Chaos has descended upon the nation’s polling booths, with voters struggling to understand changes to above-the-line voting on the Senate voting paper. New Senate voting rules, introduced in March as a way to stymie the smaller parties, mean that voters must number at least six boxes above the line on the Senate ballot paper for their vote to count. However, as the Australian Electoral Commission admitted yesterday, voters who vote 1 above the line will also have their vote counted, provided there is nothing else wrong with the ballot paper. Confusion has been heightened by a new online tool, created by the AEC, which allows voters to “practise’’ their Senate vote ahead of polling day.
As of yesterday, a voter who entered a simple 1 above the line would have received an error message, saying: “You need to number at least six boxes consecutively in the order of your choice above the line.’’ However, as the AEC acknowledged yesterday, a 1 vote above the line is valid, provided the voter’s intention is clear.
More than 80 per cent of Australian voters vote above the line on the Senate ballot paper, since the alternative means numbering every box below the line on a paper the size of a tablecloth. Legislative changes, which survived a High Court challenge in May, mean voters no longer have to number every box below the line. Voters are being encouraged to number six boxes above the line, but so-called “vote saving’’ provisions allow one-, two- or three-box voters to count as well.
Full Article: Federal election 2016: Number six above the line. Confused?.