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OK, got your attention, good. This article is not going to tell you who to vote for, but actually how to vote. For guidance on who to vote for have a read of some of the information on this site and other sources, and form your own opinion. Check out our report card on the various parties environmental policies which will be available soon.

We have received a number of questions on how the Queensland voting system works, especially around how preferences are distributed.

CANEC AMCS LEAFLET XIn particular we have had inquiries about how the preferences will be allocated if you just vote 1 for a party (e.g. Greens) and do not mark any other boxes? The answer is – NO Preferences would be allocated at all!

i.e if you only vote 1 for a candidate and that candidate is not elected your vote will not be counted for another candidate at all.

If you number the boxes then your preferences will be allocated.

Here at CAFNEC we will be numbering all the boxes in our order of preference to be sure our vote counts, how you vote is up to you.

The only way that political parties can direct preferences in Queensland is by providing supporters with ‘how to vote’ cards, relying on them to take the advice given and number their ballot accordingly.

Optional Preferential voting

Queensland operates under the unusual Optional Preferential voting system, this is how it works:

Source: http://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/voting.aspx?id=91

Optional Preferential Voting (OPV) has been used in Queensland State elections since 1992. OPV is a unique voting system giving voters a choice to vote for one candidate, more than one or, all candidates on the ballot paper. Voters can cast a valid vote by either:

  • expressing a single primary preference for one candidate only (marking only one square, leaving all the others blank)
  • expressing a partial distribution of preferences by voting for some, but not all candidates on the ballot paper (marking some but not all squares)
  • expressing a full distribution of preferences (marking each and every square in order of preference).

Counting the Votes

Ballot papers are counted in each polling booth after the close of polling at 6.00pm on polling day and included in the election night count.

After polling day the Returning Officer for each electoral district counts all types of votes including absent, postal and pre-poll votes. These are all added to the official count by the Returning Officer.

The counting of the votes is done in stages;

  • Firstly ballot papers are sorted into formal and informal votes. Ballot papers without a clear first preference are set aside as informal votes and are not admitted to the count.
  • The first preferences for each candidate are then counted. A candidate is declared “elected” if they have an absolute majority of the formal first preference votes (an absolute majority is more than 50 per cent of the formal votes).

If no candidate has an absolute majority the transfer of preferences is done by:

  • Eliminating the candidate with the least amount of first preference votes. That candidate’s second preference votes are then distributed amongst the remaining candidates. Ballot papers with no second preference are set aside as “exhausted”.

This process is continued until a candidate has an absolute majority of the votes and that candidate is then declared “elected”.