The instructions on Victoria's upper-house ballot paper may have mislead voters by encouraging voters to not complete all of the below the line preference data. This may end up effecting the outcome of Western Metropolitan Region
The instructions for below-the-line voting encourages voters to just place the numbers 1-5 in the boxes below. This minimises the effectiveness and value of the voter's ballot as many below-the-line votes will exhaust and end up on the Votes-without-value pile.
Instead of advising voters to place the number 1 to 5 to indicate the candidate of your choice the VEC should have said "Indicate in order of preference a minimum of 5 candidates of your choice. In order to maximise your vote you should number each square sequentially in the order of your choice corresponding to each candidate" or something similar.
The instructions given give the impression that you should only number 5 boxes.
There is no logic to support placing a minimum number of five on a ballot paper. If your going to adopt optional preferential you might as well introduce optional voting as opposed to compulsory voter registration.
Many parties, knowing that they could not elect all, nominate five candidates per group. This not only has the effect of inflating the number of candidates but it also devalues the vote as many voters will just choose the group they wish to support and their vote will stop there and never go beyond. This has the effect of turning our preferential voting system into a de-facto party list system
If we are to continue to maintain an optional preferential ballot then we will have to consider adopting a reiterative counting system, such as the Wright system, that takes into consideration exhausted ballots and recalculates the quota on each iteration. A reiterative counting system would do way with the distortion that arises from the segmentation of the ballot and more accurately reflect the voters intentions. On exclusion of candidates from the count the ballot is reset and votes distributed as if the excluded candidate(s) had not stood. Each iteration will only include distribution of primary votes and surplus votes. The process of iteration continues until all vacant positions are elected in a single iteration. One transaction per candidate. One vote one value.