NSW local government elections use an Optional Preferential Proportional Representation system. What a mouth full. I promise they are last big words I am going to use in this post.
When you vote you get to choose not only who you vote for but who else you would like to vote for if your favourite candidate does not get in. This your ‘preference’. You can have as many preferences as there are candidates!
That means that you can vote by putting a 1 in the box either above your candidate or beside them. You can then vote for more candidates by numbering their boxes 2,3,4 and so on. If your first vote is above the line, then make all your preferential votes above the line. If you first vote is below the line then make all your preferential votes below the line.
Now, here’s the important bit: while it sounds easier to just put a 1 on your first choice it may not be as effective as voting for two or three or even four candidates.
Here’s why: if you vote for only your favourite candidate and they don’t make the quote (the number of votes needed to win a seat) you vote is said to be exhausted. It has done it’s job and it is over. End of your vote’s story. But if you have a second preference you vote lives again! You vote will be passed on to your second preference. If you have four preferences (or more!) your vote can carry across all those candidates. Eventually your vote, in its second or third, fourth or more preference will go to someone who does get a quota and gets the seat, and it may be your vote that does it!
Why is this so important? With 52 candidates it is possible that no one gets a seat on first preferences – The 1 above the line. That being the case it goes to your preferences to see who doe get elected.
So, for your vote to be really effective it is good to have some preferences. I can’t tell you how to vote but I can suggest that you check out who is standing (not all 52, but at least the 11 groups and the three stand-alone independents) and see who’s values you like and who else is like them.
Have a plan before you go to the polling booth.
Make you vote count! It really does make a difference.