Electoral System Reform Policy discussion

(Jesse Hermans) #81

Delegating and trading/transferring are not the same thing.
With a non-transferable vote, someone can try enticing you to vote in a way they see fit. However they cannot assume legal ownership over your vote no matter what they do. At the end of the day you are still able to vote anyway you see fit, regardless of incentives - most importantly in secret thanks to the secret ballot, which allows the system to function. The moment you can definitively trace a vote back to a voter you undermine this.
Alex does a make a good point about weird combinations with absurdly long senate ballot papers undermining this, and I agree it is an issue. However even so you ultimately can’t guarantee any one person voted that way, nor can you truly know. The probability can be very high, but it can’t be definitively proven.

(Jesse Hermans) #82

This is more important when you consider mobilising large numbers of voters to vote in a certain ways. You’d have to give each purchased voter a unique voting combination you estimate no one will use, and then pay out that person if that vote registers. On a small scale this may be feasible, but it becomes increasingly difficult the number of votes you try buying. This is also only an issue with senate ballots specifically, and given the numbers required for a senate quota it doesn’t seem plausible that it’d be a reasonable or effective means to significantly alter an election outcome.

There is also the issue of embedding vote commodification in the voter psych. While it might be impossible to practically prevent with current senate preference publishing data, formally facilitating and legitimising it would no doubt lead to it becoming more practical and prevalent. I cannot see how turning votes into a currency could possibly make democracy work better.
People fought for the secret ballot for good reasons.

(Kaz) #83

Where can I sign up to this working group?

(Kaz) #84

Some issues that I’ve noted myself as limitations of our current electoral system, notwithstanding major changes to the election methods or parliamentary structure.

LGAs, state seats and federal divisions have no shared boundaries. Redrawing boundaries to ‘fit’ together e.g. have some LGAs redrawn be under a single state seat, or state seats being redrawn to be part of a single division, would also assist in the future if more sweeping reform was to take place e.g. electoral reform such as multimember seats.

The limited representation afforded to territories in contrast to states which means the territories that can elect a senator are essentially only given an extra single member seat, rather than a measure of proportionality that the states have.

The fixed 3/4 year term thing that keeps going around, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people are happy when the 8 year term for elected senators is brought up, especially when there’s no way to get them to vacate their seat if they don’t meet community expectations for almost a decade. Any reform in that space would need to address that.

(Alex Jago) #85

Start by dropping into the PDC meeting tonight, formalise it by emailing @Jesse_Hermans

(Kaz) #86

What’s the full email?

(Andrew Downing) #87

If you want to join the Policy Development Committee, you need to request this from the National Council, by email to nationalcouncil@pirateparty.org.au.

Probably cc policydev@pirateparty.org.au which will include Jesse, as he is PDO.

(Alex Jago) #88

It’s infeasible to tie LGA boundaries to state/federal boundaries, because often the population distribution doesn’t match. However, in redistributions, people do make an effort to align proposed boundaries to existing boundaries at other levels of government, especially LGA boundaries. This is to reflect communities of interest.

Doing what Tasmania does and tying state boundaries to federal isn’t the worst approach ever, but they can get away with it at least in part because they know they’re pretty much always going to have 5 federal seats. Many other states regularly gain or lose federal seats; by tying things together you’d be constantly changing the state parliament size based on that state’s relative share of the population (i.e. it would be possible for the population of that state to not change at all, and purely due to changes in other states a redistribution would still be required).

(Kaz) #89

Infeasible as it currently stands I agree, but it could encompass new planned development areas as well, and be reshaped adhoc as needed to accommodate population shifts and changes.

One thing that could also be looked at, is having a policy to ‘synchronise’ local, state and federal elections by having fixed three year terms for each on the same day, set apart by one year.
It would be difficult as it would require constitutional change at the state and federal levels, but if we also made ‘election day’ a public holiday I believe it’s a policy that would resonate with the public.

If we were to ever move to multi-member seats, that model could be adopted elsewhere as well since there would be fewer seats, but better representation in those seats.

(Alex Jago) #90

You’re proposing regularly redrawing LGA boundaries just to match state/federal districts? I can’t articulate how bad of an idea that is, or how unpopular. People are actually really attached to their LGAs.

The fixed alternating three year terms plan is cool, but all the states have recently flipped to four years instead. Antony Green also reckons that having multiple state elections on the same day would be a de facto federal election. Presumably he’s thinking in terms of campaigning.

I’m sure I’ve said this way upthread, but IMHO lower house multimember seats only really work in areas which have reasonably high &/ homogenous population densities. Upper House is a little better because there’s less expectation of local representation.

(Kaz) #91

No, I’m proposing that the EC gives added weight to LGA boundaries as they stand currently or as are redrawn with community support. There were changes that have been forced from the top down, or the bottom up that go counter to your assertion in the Camden area e.g. the division of Macarthur excised Camden, the LGA was also extended further to the north outside of historical boundaries at the behest of the council and the state government, in both examples there was very vocal concern about these moves and they were carried over anyway. Little changed with the first preference votes in both districts.

I’d also cite the council merger process in NSW as an example of how not to go about this process. The support initially for amalgamation was high in many LGAs but fell through the floor when the public discovered that their submissions and input would barely be paid lip service, let alone have any influence on the project.
When community has a voice and that voice is heard, they’re more likely to react positively to the change as the polling for amalgamation support at the beginning would point towards.

If that was a concern that it could lead to a negative outcome, that could also be somewhat mitigated by having states split between local and state elections, but personally I don’t really see any issues with that.

Yeah that’s the crux of it that I see, if the population density is low you’re going to end up with large seats or less MPs for your seat. If there was some sort of mathematical model that could be applied to strike a balance, that would make multimember an easier sell.


As long as a system is used that has top-up seats you can get away with it. By fiddling with the number of geo seats vs top-up seats you can align state/federal division boundaries while minimising parliament resizing.

This seems like a solution in search of a problem. There’s already effort to avoid election fatigue by not having state/local/federal elections coincide and we already hold elections on weekends. Only thing to tidy up is term lengths, both in standardising the number of years and making them fixed length rather than at the discretion of the government. Keeping required constitutional changes to a minimum is generally a good plan.

Sounds like you’re more or less leaning towards Mixed Member Proportional.

(Kaz) #93

I’m always wary of MMP because most proponents put forward the FPTP model of MMP that’s most used around the world.

I’d much prefer a system like our senate of STV, with some of the changes the ACT brought in e.g. randomising candidate orders, rather than a straight up adoption of MMP which uses FPTP.

(Alex Jago) #94

MMP doesn’t have to use FPTP though.

And since we’ve already got preferential voting we’re in an almost unique position to introduce MMP and not use FPTP.

It’s important to note that Australia has some of the more difficult ballot papers in the world, purely because we throw STV with 100+ candidates at people.

(Kaz) #95

This is actually a very well thought out piece, interesting read. Would the proposed system use a bicameral parliament or would the ‘house of review’ function be negated as part of this reform?

(Alex Jago) #96

It’s primarily intended for unicameralism (if you have two proportional chambers, that’s redundant).

Q: how do you know if someone’s from Queensland?

A: they’ll tell you.

I wrote most of that in late 2015 with Queensland in mind (of course, we don’t have an upper house, but rather a committee system).

Now that Qld has full preferential again, using that would be better for my proposed system in the usual ways, especially because it ensures people will always have a party vote counted.

(Kaz) #97

That depends if a different result is shown between ‘local’ proportionality and ‘wide’ proportionality and if those differences are meaningful enough to have elections from both.

But the function of the senate could be replaced by a representational body or set of processes that ensure checks and balances e.g. citizens jury, recall elections, citizens-initiated referenda etc.