Blogging Senate forecasts and results in the WA Senate re-election until officially declared.

Twitter: @AU_Truth_Seeker

Saturday, 31 August 2013

South Australian Senate - No Carbon Tax elected with just 0.04% of the vote

UPDATE: Following more up to date polling and a revised more objective method of calculating variability, I have re-forecast the SA Senate composition:
Following these updates, NCT can be elected with 0.1% of the vote - and this is not even a contrived example!

(Original Post)
Senate shenanigans continue to be found. By my analysis, the No Carbon Tax ticket is 64% likely to be elected to the 6th spot in the SA Senate. This can occur if its vote is as little as 0.04% 0.12%. That is, if 400 1200 people out of 1,000,000 South Australian voters put 1 above the line for No Carbon Tax, they may well be elected to Australia's senate.

To test this for yourself, here is the output of one of 1000 monte-carlo simulations I have run. Plug these ticket votes into Antony Green's senate calculator for South Australia and see for yourself.

Group  A          SEP          0.25%
Group  B          FF          2.63%
Group  C          DEM          0.32%
Group  D          SPA          0.07%
Group  E          LDP          0.61%
Group  F          PUP          2.56%
Group  G          XEN          15.15%
Group  H          NAT          0.47%
Group  I          IND-I          0.18%
Group  J          DLP          0.35%
Group  K          RUA          0.08%
Group  L          IND-L          0.06%
Group  M          CA          0.12%
Group  N          SEX          1.43%
Group  O          AI          0.14%
Group  P          GRN          9.32%
Group  Q          AJP          0.11%
Group  R          NCT          0.12%
Group  S          HEMP          0.41%
Group  T          DLR          0.07%
Group  U          ONP          0.32%
Group  V          SPP          0.06%
Group  W          AC          0.36%
Group  X          SFP          0.65%
Group  Y          KAP          1.01%
Group  Z          SMOK          0.08%
Group AA          VEP          0.05%
Group AB          ALP          28.83%
Group AC          BAP          0.06%
Group AD          AMEP          0.07%
Group AE          AFLP          0.31%

Group AG          LNP          33.72%

There are obviously a number of assumptions here - I have taken the XEN and GRN vote from 2007 and then applied a swing from ALP to LNP in accordance with the current BludgerTrack numbers. In doing the Monte Carlo analysis, there are minor variations - this is statistically the best way to model uncertainty.

What can we do to stop this anti-democratic result occurring?


  1. Whats anti democratic about it? If you follow the preference then 167,000 people (not 400) prefer the NCT.

    Its only seemingly anti-democratic. If we actually voted 30ish times - eliminating the lowest party each time - you would see people changing over from eliminated minor parties to the NCT. Thats democracy.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I am a big fan of compulsory preferential voting in HoR elections, although I believe the 1-2-3-3 method of voting should also be formal.

    What is undemocratic is the registration of group voting tickets by parties, and the manner in which preferences are traded on grounds other than ideology or anything policy related.

    In the SA example, NCT will likely get to the 160,000 quota. This may be comprised of 400 voters who DID vote for NCT, and 159,600 who didn't.

    The other challenge is that it becomes increasingly hard to find the ticket you wish to vote for in ballots that exceed 1 metre. For example, confusion between the DLP and ALP, and Liberal Democrats and Liberals also corrupts appropriate democratic outcomes.

  3. "This may be comprised of 400 voters who DID vote for NCT, and 159,600 who didn't."

    Well no, that isn't how our system works. If NCT wins, it is because 160,000 voters selected preference flows that preferred NCT to any other party remaining.

    It's not about first preferences - it is about highest preference given the options remaining.

    This is not to say the system doesn't need work, nor that most people understand how the system works. A lot could be learned by looking at the HoA elections for the Tasmanian Parliament, which have a similar system, but one which actually works well.

    1. The point is that do the 159,600 actually know their preferences are going to NCT?

  4. I'm with TS on this... if people controlled their own preferences then it would be true that they legitimately have been preferred by voters ahead of other options. But since parties determine the preference flow, it is possible that they do not represent the real preferences of the voters.

    As for what to be done... if you want to stop it then find the point in the preference-gathering race when NCT is closest to being eliminated, find which party needs to get a higher vote, and go and campaign for them. :)

    Long term, a compromise solution for the voting system would be to allow optional preferential both below and above the line... but if somebody only puts a [1] above the line, then you use the group voting ticket. By allowing optional preferential I think there would be more voters choosing the direction of their preferences.

  5. @TS and Muppet.
    No party can force you or any other voter to follow the party's Group Voting Ticket (GVT). People can vote any way they wish below the line. The GVT system is there to give voters an easy, quick way to vote and to reduce the number of informal (wasted) votes.
    If you don't like the way that your preferred party has allocated preferences on its GVT, then don't give them a tick above the line and allocate your preferences below the line as you see fit.

  6. @Intuitive reason:
    The 160,000 votes that NCT will end up with will consist of 400 people who actively put 1 in the box next to No Carbon Tax. Most of these would be protest votes. The other 159,600 would consist of people who have voted for a different party but then ended up electing the NCT anyway. Examples:
    1. Family First preferences go to NCT before other Christian based parties.
    2. DLP preferences to go NCT before other Christian based parties
    3. Rise Up preferences going to NCT before other Christian values parties
    4. Country Alliance going to NCT before other "regional" parties such as Katter, Nats, etc.
    5. Animal Justice party going to NCT before the Greens
    6. Australian Christians going to NCT before other christian values parties
    7. Shooters/Fishers going to NCT before Fishing and Lifestyle party
    8. Katter Party going to NCT before other regional parties, like Country Alliance

    Although not a lawyer, I have some background in contract law. There is no reasonable expectation in voting for a particular party that your preferences will be traded and siphoned off to a party with unrelated goals. Such a "contract" would not be legally binding, and voters are being dudded. In addition to unexpected preferences, market failure also exists whereby people cannot simply find the party that they wish to vote for. This too, erodes our democracy.

    I agree in using the Tasmanian system as a model, theoretically. But it wouldn't work federally due to the large number of candidates. Additional legislation should be passed limiting the power of micro-party-preference-barons. Look at what's happened in NSW.

    As for strategically campaigning for an unrelated ticket to manipulate the order, make me a few Building Australia t-shirts and I'll be there! (okay... perhaps not... :-)
    Agree with the long term solution. Make it as easy as possible for people to direct preferences in any way they see fit.

    @Stefan L
    Voting is, in Marketing lingo, a "low involvement" product, particularly the Australian flavour of compulsory voting. In order to make the system work, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, and for people's intentions to be reflected in their democratic representatives. The fact that legally each GVT must be displayed at each polling place means nothing. The time it takes to vote below the line places an unreasonable burden on most voters.

    Millions of Australians in this Senate election will end up voting for Three Word Slogans that proliferate on ballot papers, simply because they cannot find the party they want. Even when they find their preferred party, voters have no guarantee that the party will wisely and responsibly use their custodianship of their voters support.

    This is unfair.

  7. I agree that it needs to be easier to direct your own preferences, but I would think it a very bad move to get rid of GVTs entirely. With so many minor parties, many of whom may have misleading or confusing names, I think it is important that voters have the option to choose to delegate the task of preference allocation to one party whose values they know and trust and who will know far more about each of these groups than the average voter could hope to.

  8. Yes, there is an issue there regarding expectations and it's a problem.

    I wonder whether another solution would be to allow anyone to register a 'Voting pattern' that could be nominated, rather than limiting this capacity to parties. That would be a powerful little option.

  9. I don't know what the solution is, but I know that what's happening this time is the problem. The answer may well involve less power to GVTs, higher deposits, ending random ordering of ballots to ease the confusion of people not finding their desired party, and the registered voting pattern could be a great idea too!

  10. A bit moot TS when NCTCS's Leon Ashby got close to 5,000 votes in 2010. Your 400 votes assumption is, well, a bit on the light side.

    And your problem with our longstanding democratic process is?

    1. Agree - NCT will poll over 0.04%. But my point remains. They could get elected with just 0.04% if their cards fall right.
      It is not democratic to be potentially electing someone to our parliament when the level of support for their party is effectively 0% (rounded).
      People voting above the line should not have THEIR votes horse traded to an unrelated party.

      It should be easy to vote, not hard. There's evidence to suggest that people in some cases can simply not find the party their voting for - look at high vote for LDP and DLP (in Vic), particularly where their ballot position created confusion with ALP and Liberal Party.

    2. There are a couple of simple and non-controversial ways to dramatically reduce the size of the ballot paper and make voting a much easier task for the public.

      First, remove the requirement for a party to have at least two candidates to lodge a GVT. The vast majority of parties know they are trying for one seat, not multiple. Nearly half of the names on the ballot are just there to meet arbitrary legal requirements.

      Second, get rid of "the line". If you want to allocate your own preferences, number all boxes. If you want the party to allocate them for you, just number 1.

      These changes would require those parties that want to run multiple candidates (i.e the majors) to lodge GVTs for each candidate, but that's no big deal. And it would get rid of almost two thirds of the boxes on the paper without needing to take actions to restrict the number of parties nominating.

    3. Mainly agree - all sorts of reforms should be on the table, including these ones. These would help remove the incentive for micro parties to run, which would further reduce the number of candidates and further enhance the ease of performing one's democratic duties.

  11. TS on Crikey:
    This should make us all scared to vote above the line. If major party (and Xenophon vote) is based on 2007, and then 2013 Lower house swings are applied, micro party “No carbon tax” has a 64% chance of election as long as its primary vote is 0.15%. This is sadly no typo. Seriously, what DOES this party stand for on other issues?

    If TS wanted to seek the truth he could have found the NO CARBON TAX Climate Sceptic's party policies detailed on the party's website.

    1. Geoff - feel free to give them a plug by posting a link - I'm sure my readers would love to check them out to determine where to put them if my readers are voting below the line. As they have a serious likelihood of winning, I encourage transparency and seek the truth :-)

    2. After some research, I have found you actually ARE the NCTCS Party.

    3. Did you find our policies while you were researching?