The Australian Labor Party may be done in by the system of optional preferential voting that they introduced for the first time this election. Under previous elections voters had to preference all candidates, under the new rules voters had to only number one to five. The instructions on the ballot paper stated number one to five.
There is no logic behind the new rules. Why just allow five If a large number of voter's preferences stop at five then the ballot paper exhausts and many voter's unknown to them will be throwing way their ballot paper.
If everyone or a large number of people preference just five candidates our system of voting will be come a de facto first-past-the-post voting system or a party list system. by default
The VEC should have issued a statement that you should number five or more preferences and that in order to maximise your vote you should number every square.
In Western Metropolitan there is now concern that a large number of ballot papers will in fact exhaust. Sex Party and Family First had nominated only two candidates so their voters will have to make a choice as to who they will vote for beyond their Party. Evey other party including the Liberal Party, the DLP, Greens and Labor all stood a full team of five candidates. This means that most of their voters could opt to just preference their party and no more. Analysis of the August Victoria Senate election indicates that the number of Sex Party below-the-line voters who preferenced the ALP directly after was less then 14%. The number who preferences the Greens directly after Sex Party was 27%. The remaining 59% had opted to preference another party before either the Greens or the ALP. This will most certainly add to the unknown in Western Metro where every preference will count. What is in ALPs favour is that it is the group to the right and many Sex Party voters will tend to preference the ALP next before stopping at five. This could be the ALP best chance at surviving the optional preferential count
UPDATE: Further Analysis in existing data indicates that Bob Smith will fall short by 50-300 votes mainly due to the optional preferential voting. It is anticipated that many FF/DLP and Liberal votes will exhaust before being transferred to the ALP. Whilst the ALP will pickup the lions share of SexParty Below the line Preferences it is insufficient to make up the short fall that is needed from FF, DLP and the Liberal Party transfers. To have a chance of winning Bob Smith will need 50% of Sex Parties 3,4 and 5 preferences before the Greens to make up the short fall from FF/DLP and Liberal optional prefernital votes. This may be to much to achieve. The ALP will live to reget its decsion to introduce optional prefernetial ballots. Its woprst then issuing a split ticket above the line.
Tthe winning candidate will have less then a quota. creating another distortion in the way the ballot is counted. In a more accurate proportional system system the quota would be adjusted to accommodate the dropping quota as ballot exhaust through-out the count. with a reiterative count model the ballot is reset and all votes are redistributed after any exclusion as if the candidate excluded had not stood.. A new quota is calculated at the end of the primary distribution in each iteration of the count automatically adjusts as the count as it progresses. It is much more accurate and better reflects the voters intentions.