Voting for dummies

or How to stick it to the two major parties

Until we get a different (proportional) electoral system, whats being decided on Saturday comes down to one simple thing.

Do you want Team Howard or Kevin 07 to be at the wheel?

Theres the Senate vote as well, and thats really important (see page 17 for more), but in the electorate of Page, in the House of Representatives, its a two-horse race.

There might be 10 candidates, but in reality youre only deciding between two people Chris Gulaptis (Team Howard) or Janelle Saffin (Kevin 07).

Its gonna be one or the other.

Your preferences will flow until they hit either Gulaptis or Saffin. And your vote will stop there.

So if you put Gulaptis #9 and Saffin #10 its a vote for Team Howard.

Put Saffin #9 and Gulaptis #10 and its a vote for Kevin 07. (See How preferences work below).

And thats why youve got people talking about just scribbling on their ballot paper.

Theyre both as bad as each other. I dont want either, they wail.

Well to anybody thinking of scribbling on their ballot, Id like to bring to your attention four issues which I personally believe everybody should think about before walking into a polling booth on Saturday (see pages 12 to 15).

Meanwhile, Id also like to suggest a much better way of venting your frustration and disenchantment at the two-party duopoly.

Sticking it to them where itll hurt the hip pocket. (Nice bit of role reversal, dont you think?)

This is what Im getting at:

The candidate you rank as #1 (your primary vote) gets given money.

I know... politics is such a rort. Its hard to believe, but they get $2.10 for every primary vote (provided they score at least four per cent of the total vote).

So by putting somebody else in at #1 at least you have the satisfaction of knowing youre not giving either of the major parties any more of YOUR hard-earned tax dollars.

(And while scribbling on your ballot paper might feel good on Saturday, the joy will be short-lived if its your backyard theyre suddenly measuring up for the next nuclear power station).

If youre worried about climate change (and lets face it, who isnt these days?) my suggestion would be to put The Greens or Democrats as your #1 and #2, as these parties were the top raters on the website where peak environment groups gave a score to each political party according to their climate change policies. Nine criteria were used including renewable energy, smarter energy and land use, Kyoto ratification and nuclear policies (see page 12 for more).

Team Howard and Kevin 07 both rated appallingly, so once youve decided which team youre batting for, Id suggest putting that candidate in third place. Theyll still end up with your vote, but youll be sending a clear message to Canberra that whoevers in the driving seat come Sunday, they need to pull their finger out NOW!Be very careful as you continue numbering all the way to the end (to #10 in Page). If you leave any boxes blank or duplicate a number, your vote goes straight in the bin.

How preferences work

Picture this. The election is over. They shut the doors and up-end the ballot box.

The votes are divvied up into piles according to #1 votes.

In the electorate of Page there are 10 candidates standing for the House of Representatives so there will be 10 piles.

The pile with the least number of votes gets picked up and those papers are distributed according to #2 votes.

Now there are nine piles. And so it goes on. The vote cant ever go to somebody whos already been excluded, so the preferences just keep flowing. Until they hit either Team Howard or Kevin 07. Thats the end of their journey.

Make your vote count You must write a different number (from one to 10 in Page and one to seven in Richmond) in each and every box. If you leave any boxes blank or write anything other than a number (such as a tick or a cross) in a box then your vote will not count.

Be very careful filling out the ballot paper and if you make a mistake ask for another one. Remember, just one error and your vote goes in the bin.

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