Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wright System

Advocating change that counts

The current electoral system that is used to elect representatives to the Australian Senate and the Victorian Upper-house is outdated and contains some serious flaws in the way the vote is counted.

The system was designed to facilitate a manual count and in the trade-off has inbuilt distortions in the election process that have the potential to effect the overall outcome.

With the coming November Municipal poll where many councils will for the first time also be adopting the system used to elect the Senate and Victorian Upper-house the potential for the results of the election to be effected by the flaws in the system are increased exponentially

The Western Australian Government has realised the impact of this error and has acted partially to correct the mistakes in adopting a system for its upper-house elections, but the Victorian and Federal Government are yet to follow in the WA steps.

WA has made one step forward but there are more steps that should be taken to improve the system and ensure that the outcome of the election reflects the voters' intentions.

To try and address the shortcomings of the system in place we have made a submission to both the State and Federal Parliament advocating change. Change that would see the implementation of what we have named The Wright System. (Named after the late Jack Wright author of "Mirror of a Nations Mind" and past President of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia.)

The Wright System advocates the use of a formula used in the calculation and distribution of a Candidates Surplus in a proportional representation count based on the value of the vote as opposed to the number of ballot papers .

The system also recommends the adoption of a reiterative count process where the count is restarted and recounted following any exclusion of any unsuccessful candidates whose votes are to be redistributed.

Copies of the submission and rules of the proposed count can be found on our sister site http://melbcity.topcities.com/

Municipal Blues

The VEC sets course for November ship wreck

Electoral reform is back on the agenda.

With the coming of the November municipal poll and both the Australian and Victorian Government undertaking a review of the election system Now is the time to make necessary changes to Australia electoral system and the way we count the vote.

The system that is currently in place is outdated and designed to facilitate a manual count. Analysis of the vote in the last State and Federal election has highlighted some of the inbuilt errors in the system. Whilst Steve Tully, Victoria's Electoral Commissioner, is in denial and avoidance mode about errors in the way he conducted the last State election the State Parliament continues to probe the facts behind the count that did not tally.

There is growing concern that the November Elections will create mass confusion and rebound on the State Government. At issue is the number of various representative models put in place by the Victorian Electoral Commission. The hybrid systems where there is a mix of multi-member and single member wards and those wards that will elect different number of councillors will all add to the confusion and dissent over the recent Municipal reforms.

The Introduction of proportional representation for Local Government was the correct policy, but its implementation and deployment by the Victorian Electoral Commission has not been effective or well managed.

There will be resentment and confusion over the fact that some Municipalities will have a postal voting system and other an attendance poll with both closing on different days. Postal votes elections will close earlier then attendance polls and without doubt many voters will front up on "Polling Day" and be told that they can not vote. There is no provision for absentee voting across Municipal boundaries and Postal vote elections will close on the Friday before the normal Saturday poll. (A better option would have been for postal votes to close on Election Day or if need be the Monday following "Election Day" so that voters are not unnecessarily disenfranchised)

Although most of these mistakes are due to poor administration and management in the VEC. In the end Iit is the State Government that will cop the flack and criticism for the system that has been put in place. A system that could have and should have been better managed in its design and implementation.

Prediction: The November poll will be the first main stumbling block for the State Government which if it is not properly address could be the down fall of what is otherwise a responsible and effective Government. The Chief Commissioner will come under review and his contract will not be renewed but this will be too late.