Flux and How-To-Votes (Preferences) for the NSW and Federal Elections

Author: Max Kaye

# Background; Why We’re Running This Experiment

Two things we value highly are transparency and neutrality. Unfortunately, the nature of elections in Australia doesn’t make these values easier to live by. Typically, parties will negotiate positions on each others’ how-to-vote cards (the bits of paper thrust at you by myriad parties as you head into the polling station telling you which order to vote in). By that nature, negotiations are often secretive and heavily based on a quid pro quo type arrangement.

One common tactic parties use is to refuse to add other parties to their how-to-votes (HTVs) without public support or endorsement of core policies. The problem we face is that we can’t agree to such terms, or even offer them to other parties.

Additionally, if we were to list other parties in order on our HTVs we would go against our neutrality.

So we’ve come up with an idea; an experiment we’ll run for the NSW and Federal elections, and see how it goes. We can’t endorse other parties’ policy, but there are other options. Particularly, it’s always been a goal of Flux to facilitate non-parliamentary parties, independents, and other community organisations a way to participate in Issue Based Direct Democracy (IBDD) without needing to be elected first. It’s been an objective in our constitution since it was written. That means interest groups (be they other parties, community groups, clubs, professional organisations, etc) will be able to participate in IBDD, receive delegations, and suggest legislation. (Of course, they won’t receive votes in IBDD like eligible voters will.)

Once operational, that practically means other parties can use Flux to suggest legislation exactly like individual voters can. In light of that, we think we have a way to handle our HTVs that is fair, open, and transparent.

# HTV Details

Our HTV cards will be separated into two categories, with a subcategory in each for minor and major parties. (Minor parties being those which commonly don’t receive 4% of first-preferences. This threshold is commonly used by electoral commissions to determine eligibility for public funding; if you don’t get 4% of the vote, you lose your deposit and get nothing back.) The two primary categories will be “Parties which cooperate” and “Parties which refused to cooperate”.

With the exception of parties that have been dishonest to us in the past - there’s only one, currently - our offer is open to all parties, parliamentary or not.

To qualify for the “cooperative” category, all another party needs to do is put us in the top half of all other parties on their HTV card. As the voting system in NSW does not require voters to fill out more than 1 box (in the upper house), practically this will often mean being on the counterparty’s (haha) HTV card at all. (For example, if a party is including 5 other groups (after themselves) on their HTV card, but there are 20 groups, it would mean being included somewhere in that list, or being added at the end.) In the case the other party is doing something similar to us, the condition is simply “like for like”; a mutually favourable position.

In return, Flux will put that party in the “cooperative” category.

Note: alternatively, if a party does not issue HTVs and they let us know, they’ll be placed at the end of the list of cooperative minor parties with a footnote mentioning this fact.

Additionally, for cooperative parties, if we are elected in that election, we will present one bill (of the party’s choosing) before the respective legislature. This does mean there will be a way for a Flux representative to suggest legislation that does not go through IBDD, but it will only ever be a one-off, and only in the case we’re elected.

The HVT cards themselves will be structured as follows, with each category being ordered randomly:

  • Parties which cooperate
    • Minor Parties
    • Major Parties
  • Parties which refused to cooperate
    • Minor Parties
    • Major Parties

The instructions to voters will be straight forward:

  • Vote 1 Flux
  • Preference parties you like from the cooperative minors in any order you choose
  • Preference parties you like from the cooperative majors in any order you choose
  • If the ballot is not valid yet (i.e. you need to fill in some more boxes):
    • Preference parties you like from the uncooperative minors in any order you choose
    • Preference parties you like from the uncooperative majors in any order you choose
  • While the ballot is still not valid, continue to fill it out however you like, and then cast your vote

Deadline for telling Flux if we’ll be on your HTV: 12th of March

# Conclusion

As a final point, this plan is an experiment. We don’t know how it will go, or if it will be effective. If we don’t try new things, however, then we won’t be able to make progress. That’s why we’re trying this for the NSW and Federal elections.

To get in contact with Flux regarding HTVs, please email leadership@voteflux.org.

If members have any questions, please ask them in the public Q and A section of the app, or email steerco@voteflux.org.

Max Kaye
Lead Candidate, NSW LC
Deputy Leader

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