Organisation : Electoral Commission SA
Facility : Voting Systems
Country : South Australia
State : Adelaide
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Voting Systems :
There are three main vote counting systems used in South Australia :
** full preferential – used to elect the House of Assembly
** proportional representation – used to elect the Legislative Council and Local Government
** first past the post – used for some industrial elections administered by the Electoral Commission SA
For more detailed information on voting systems, have a look at our vote counting methods factsheet.
Full preferential :
** Full preferential vote counting is currently used to elect House of Assembly members in South Australia.
** For instructions on how to complete the House of Assembly ballot paper see our page on ballot papers.
** To win the election, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the formal votes. This is known as an absolute majority.
** If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first preference votes, that candidate is elected.
** Now, if no candidate has obtained more than 50% of votes a process of elimination begins.
** First, the candidate who has received the fewest first preference votes is excluded.
** The second preferences of the excluded candidate are allocated (shared out) to the remaining candidates.
** The totals for candidates remaining in the count are recalculated.
** The process of elimination continues if there is still no candidate with an absolute majority of votes.
** This cycle of elimination and redistribution continues until one candidate receives an absolute majority of votes.
** Once a candidate reaches majority of votes they are elected to the House of Assembly.
Proportional representation :
What is it? :
** Proportional representation is a vote counting system that gives candidates seats according to how many votes they receive.
** It is used in South Australia to elect members of the Legislative Council and Local Government.
** Isn’t this how all elections work? No it is not.
** The USA and UK use a system called first past the post that sees the party with the most votes winning the entire electoral division or seat.
** Under this system, parties or candidates who receive only a minority of the vote can win the majority of the seats.
** If this happens, the majority of electors will be represented by people they did not vote for.
** In the early 1900s, the modern political party evolved as a system for electing people.
** Emerging democracies in Europe realised that political parties now held more and more power, so they developed proportional voting systems to give voters the power to hold political parties accountable.
** Many developed countries have been using proportional representation for nearly 100 years.
First past the post :
** First past the post vote counting is no longer used in South Australian parliamentary elections.
** It is commonly used in other countries such as the United Kingdom and United States of America.
** It basically means that the person or party with the most votes wins.
Why not? :
** First past the post is an easy system to use, however it does not mean it is the best system for South Australia.
** The simple answer is that it is not always fair. The following example explains why.
In an election :
** Group A wins 35% of the vote
** Group B wins 30% of the vote
** Group C wins 23% of the vote
** Group D wins 12% of the vote
** Using first past the post, Group A wins 100% of the power but only received 35% of the vote.
** That means that 65% of the electorate is represented by a candidate they did not vote for.
** This is why first past the post vote counting is not always fair.
** South Australia decided to use a different counting method to make sure that elections were more representative.
** That is why we use full preferential vote counting for the House of Assembly and proportional representation for the Legislative Council.