Posted 9/10/12

 

Macedon Ranges Shire Council Elections, 2012

 

Special Feature:

What You Should Know Before You Vote...

 

MRRA Home Result Election 2012 Homepage About Council The Candidates Candidate Preferences About MRRA

 

 

How your vote is counted

 

Here, we provide an explanation of vote counting systems, how your vote is counted, and show how votes were actually counted in the West Ward in the 2008 Council election.

 

Vote Counting Systems

How Votes Are Counted - the Proportional vote counting system

Example of Actual 2008 West Ward Vote Count, and how councillors were elected

 

 

Vote Counting Systems

Broadly speaking, there are two main vote counting systems: 

Macedon Ranges Shire has three multi-councillor wards: East, South and West wards.  As three councillors are to be elected in each ward, Council must use the Proportional vote counting system for Council elections.  The Preferential system is only available for single-councillor wards - where one councillor is elected in each ward.

 

 

How Votes Are Counted

No matter how simply put, the Proportional vote counting system is very complicated.  Take a deep breath.  Ready?  OK, let's go.

 

The Proportional system distributes preferences two ways: from excluded candidates, and from elected candidates.  

  1. To win, a candidate needs to gain a quota - that is, they need to obtain a specific number of votes. 
  2. In Macedon Ranges Shire, a quota is calculated by dividing the total FORMAL votes by 4 (i.e. 25%), plus one vote.  For example, if there are 10,000 formal votes, a candidate needs a quota of 2,501 votes to be elected. 
  3. Quotas are set once the number of total formal votes is known. Informal votes are not counted.
  4. Ballot papers are first sorted and counted according to which candidate is No.1 on the ballot paper.  This is the "primary" vote.  
  5. If no candidate achieves a quota on primary vote, the candidate with the lowest number of primary votes is excluded, and their second preferences (candidates voters marked No.2) are distributed to remaining candidates.
  6. If no-one is elected, the next candidate with the lowest total number of primary votes - and any preferences from the first excluded candidate - is excluded.  This candidate's primary votes go to their second preferences, but preferences from the first excluded candidate are passed to that candidate's third preferences.
  7. If no-one is elected, the next candidate with the lowest total number of primary votes and preferences is excluded.  Their primary votes are go to their second preferences, while preferences received from the first excluded candidate move to that candidate's fourth preference, and the second excluded candidate's to their third preference.

Candidates with the least votes continue to be excluded, and their votes passed to the next preference on the ballot papers they are holding, until a candidate achieves a quota, and is elected. 

 

So far, all of the distributed votes have come from excluded candidates, and you begin to see how your vote moves from candidate to candidate.  It can in fact be passed on to every candidate, except the candidate placed last on your ballot paper (see Candidate Preferences).

 

Where an excluded candidate is the next preference on a ballot paper, they are skipped over and the preference goes to a remaining candidate who is next highest on a ballot paper. 

 

Now it really gets complicated:  A CANDIDATE IS ELECTED!  

  1.  If an excluded candidate's votes elect another candidate (gives them enough votes for a quota), distribution of the excluded candidate's votes stops.  For example, if an excluded candidate's primary vote elects another candidate, preferences they hold won't be distributed unless there is still a vacancy to be filled.
  2. Elected candidates usually end up with more votes than they need for a quota (for example, an elected candidate with 2,801 votes has 300 votes more than the 2,501 votes needed for a quota).  These 300 extra votes are called a surplus, and they are immediately passed to remaining candidates.
  3. To ensure surplus votes are fairly distributed to the remaining candidates, the next preferences on ALL of the elected candidate's 2,801 ballot papers - primary votes, and preferences from excluded candidates - are checked. 
  4. Because there are more ballot papers (2,801) than votes (300) that can be passed on, preferences on ballot papers are transferred to remaining candidates at a transfer rate which converts the 2,801 ballot papers into the 300 available votes. 
  5. The transfer rate is a fraction, calculated by dividing the surplus (300) by the ballot papers (2,801).  In this example, each ballot paper is transferred to another candidate at a transfer rate of 0.10710. 
  6. For example, say Candidate A receives 700 preferences on the elected candidate's 2,801 ballot papers.  These are passed to Candidate A at the transfer rate of 0.10710 per ballot paper, and Candidate A receives 74 of the surplus 300 votes.
  7. A transfer rate does not devalue a vote.  It simply ensures preferences on ballot papers are accurately represented in the surplus votes being distributed.  Remember, the elected candidate's surplus was 300 votes, not 2,801.
  8. If an elected candidate's surplus elects another candidate, the newly elected candidate's surplus is immediately distributed, as above.  If no-one is elected, candidates with the least total votes continue to be excluded until another candidate is elected. 
  9. Once all three councillors are elected (all vacancies are filled), counting stops. The election is over.

 

2008 West Ward Election - How Current Councillors Were Elected

Here is a simple explanation of how West ward councillors were elected in 2008.

Eleven candidates contested.  The quota was 2,056 votes. 

Primary vote results were as follows:

Jukes 1,810
Harvey 1,187
Gyorffy 953
Manning 813
Benson 673
Livingstone 574
Todd 572
Yardley 559
Peeler 447
Drago 420
Wilson 214

 

No candidate achieved a quota on primary vote.

  1.  Wilson was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Peeler whose votes increased to 585.  No-one gained a quota
  2. Drago was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Peeler whose votes increased to 799.  No-one gained a quota.
  3. Yardley was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Harvey, whose votes increased to 1,571.  No-one gained a quota.
  4. Todd was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Jukes. 
  5. ELECTION OF JUKES with 2,286 votes, a surplus of 230 votes.
  6. Jukes' surplus mainly went to Benson whose votes increased to 961.  No other candidate achieved a quota.

At this point, only 6 candidates remained: Livingstone, Peeler, Gyorffy, Manning, Benson and Harvey. 

  1.  Livingstone was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Manning whose votes increased to 1,206.  No other candidate achieved a quota.
  2. Peeler was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Manning whose votes increased to 1,909.  No other candidate achieved a quota.
  3. Gyorffy (with 2 votes fewer than Benson*) was excluded, with preferences mainly going to Manning.
  4. ELECTION OF MANNING with 2,734 votes, a surplus of 678 votes.
  5. Manning's surplus was distributed between the two remaining candidates, Benson and Harvey.  Benson received 601 of Manning's 678 surplus votes.
  6. ELECTION OF BENSON with 2,088 votes.

Counting stopped.

 

*  If Benson had been 2 votes behind Gyorffy, she would have been excluded instead and would likely have elected Harvey.