Voting below the line in the Senate has become a whole lot easier. Simply voting 1 to 12 is enough to cast a valid vote. There are many advantages of the new system. You can vote for members of the party you favour rather than in the order dictated by party organisations. You no longer have to cast a vote for parties you don’t like. Stephen Morey (who created the amusing ballot paper image above) noted “Suppose you are a Liberal voter but don’t like the order of candidates as shown on the ballot paper. You may number the squares of the six Liberal candidates in any order – provided the numbers are sequential and each is different.”
This important change may enable a ‘rusted on’ Liberal supporter concerned about climate change still to vote for their party but put the climate deniers last on their preferences or omit them altogether. For example in Tasmania they could target Senator Abetz and the 3rd candidate on their list – also a climate change denier whose name I’ve forgotten – and put them 5 and 6 on the ‘conservative’ ballot, or leave them off altogether. Likewise in SA Senator Benardi could be left off altogether with the conservative preferences perhaps going to the Xenothon team. In Victoria I am not certain how the ‘conservative climate’ voter should go, but generally the Nationals – mostly climate change deniers – can be left off.
In 2013 when voting in the last Federal Election I opted to Vote below the Line in the Senate. I wished to give my first preference to the No Coal Seam Gas party as I considered this a very important local issue. But I did not trust the way the parties allocated their preferences. So I began the laborious task of numbering my preferences from 1 to (I think) 97. After about 15 minute of numbering starting with the candidates I preferred and then numbering backwards from the candidates I distinctly disliked (Climate Skeptics) I found that I had made a mistake when the form was almost completed. The electoral officer laughed when I apologetically asked for another ballot paper “One old gentleman” she replied “came back three times”. The changes to the Electoral Act mean that this time I, and many others, will be able to vote below the line in the Senate with ease.