Australia: Northern Territory Adopts Optional Preferential Voting and Bans Campaigning Near Polling Places | ABC Elections

The Northern Territory Parliament yesterday passed legislation that will dramatically change the face of elections in the Northern Territory. I outlined the provisions of the bill in a blog post in January (you can find the post here), but the two provisions with significant political consequences are a switch from full to optional preferential voting, and a ban on posters, how-to-votes, handbills and all forms of campaigning within 100 metres of a polling place. The original bill included a 500 metre ban, reduced to a more practical 100 metres by government amendment in the debate. The ban will remove what locals call ‘the gauntlet’, the tunnel of posters and party workers thrusting how-to-vote material at voters outside polling places. From my own personal observation, campaigning outside polling places is more vigorous in the Northern Territory than in any other Australian jurisdiction.

Ukraine: Voters face complicated and confusing ballots — again | Kyiv Post

Ukraine will on Oct. 25 conduct the most procedurally complicated local elections it has ever seen. Voters can only hope the polls are not also the most chaotic and corrupt ever seen. The complex, multi-system voting procedure will inevitably cause problems with vote counts and distribution of seats, and will likely further reduce the trust of voters in election results, experts have told the Kyiv Post. “Even we don’t totally understand the logic of this law,” said Andriy Mahera, deputy head of Central Election Commission, adding the new election system is already causing some head scratching.

Bulgaria: Bulgarians and preferential voting: shift happens | The Sofia Globe

Bulgarians appear to have taken to preferential voting with a passion, with more than third who voted in the country’s October 5 elections using their right to re-arrange the order of candidates of the party of their choice. Going by provisional figures released by the Central Election Commission, about 34 per cent of those who voted exercised preferential voting – more than 1.1 million people. Preferential voting was brought into Bulgarian law by the rewritten Election Act that was approved in March 2014. Voters’ first chance to use it was in Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections, with the most celebrated case involving the Bulgarian Socialist Party. In the May vote, then-party leader Sergei Stanishev was shoved down the list to be replaced by the candidate who was 15th on the list. Momchil Nekov, hitherto obscure, became the toast of those amused by the BSP’s misfortunes.

Canada: Ranked ballot option coming to Ontario municipalities | Yahoo News Canada

It won’t help decide the heated race in the upcoming Toronto election — but it could in 2018. The Ontario Liberals are making good on a campaign promise to give municipalities some new tools to supposedly enhance local democracy. A spokesperson for Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin confirms that the Kathleen Wynne government will amend current legislation to give city governments the option of ranked ballots in future elections. “As the Premier indicated in our ministry’s mandate letter, in the course of reviewing the Municipal Elections Act, we will provide municipalities with the option of using ranked ballots in future elections as an alternative to the first-past-the-post system, starting in 2018,” Mark Cripps told Yahoo Canada News. “This work will get underway following the elections on October 27.”

Editorials: How to reform Australian Senate voting in one easy step | The Age

The grabbing of Senate seats by micro-party candidates with a handful of primary votes and a manipulated preference flow, while other party candidates with hundreds of thousands of votes are bypassed, is a matter demanding reform. The problem is that neither Labor nor the Coalition want to give up their own potential to manipulate the system by hijacking preference flows. Maybe now they will. As leader of the Greens, after the 2010 election I took a simple reform to the Gillard government. It was rejected. Perhaps the Abbott government will take it up. As everyone will remember from voting last Saturday, in the Senate we are required to either put ”1” in the box of the party of our choice above the line, or number all the candidates in the order of our own preference below the line. Fewer than one in 10 voters bother with the second choice. As the number of Senate candidates has grown, the second choice has become less and less attractive. The problem with the easier option of just voting ”1” for a party above the line is that the voter cedes control of her or his flow of preferences to the backroom operators of that party. Across Australia millions of votes cascade to other parties in an order the voters would not select themselves. The law requiring parties to lodge, pre-election, their choice of preference flow has led to the dark art of manipulation of preferences for unwarranted electoral advantage.

Australia: What is preferential voting? | SBS World News

Preferential voting is required in Australia. It’s largely unique to our political scene, reflecting the number and diversity of smaller parties that participate in elections. It is a system of voting that allows a citizen to individually number and rank all candidates for both houses of parliament according to their preferences. It is employed when no one candidate or party wins outright, based on first preference votes. It means a citizen’s vote can still be counted, even if their first choice of candidate is eliminated due to a lack of votes. On a ballot paper, placing a number one against a candidate is considered the first preference or primary vote. If no candidate secures an absolute majority of primary votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is then eliminated from the count.