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The NSW Government has listened to the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s voice of reason in the need to change the way preference votes are counted in Local Government elections.
In August 2017, a Joint Standing Committee conducted an inquiry into the process, which Council took the opportunity to make a submission suggesting a number of recommendations on how the counting of preference votes could be improved.
Mayor Khal Asfour said Council’s submission highlighted the current practice of using a random sampling method for calculating preference votes was simply archaic, convoluted and inaccurate.
"We made it clear the random sampling method did not ensure any fairness to candidates in the election process, especially when the number of votes between candidates is very close," Mayor Asfour said.
"In Council’s submission, we highlighted that counting all preference votes for elected candidates would produce a more accurate result."
"However, we noted that counting every vote may increase the cost of the election and delay the declaration of the poll. In light of this, we recommended the NSW Government remove random sampling when votes were less than five per cent between candidates."
This week, the State Government looked favourably upon Council’s suggestions and delivered more than expected. They agreed to introduce a more comprehensive method, called the ‘Gregory Method’.
"The ‘Gregory Method’ will prove far more effective because it’s vote for vote, which means every vote is worth the same, unlike the former method, which took a cross section of votes and used a computer algorithm to guess the outcome," Mayor Asfour said.
"Providing full counts of all votes will increase the fairness, transparency and accuracy of preference votes, and also show a better representation of who the community wants leading our City."
"It’s also a massive step in aligning electoral practices for Local and State Government elections."
Some of the main changes made by the State Government include:
1. Removing random sampling of ballots when a candidate receives more than a required quota to be elected
2. Introducing the Gregory Method to conduct future Local Government elections
3. The NSW Electoral Commission will work with relevant stakeholders to develop a policy that makes it easier to examine ballot papers, electronic records and data entry
4. Councils administering their own elections are required to adhere to policy developed by the NSW Electoral Commission
5. An audit process be introduced to ensure all electronic ballots are accurate when counting
6. All data, including full preference data, is to be released following a Local Government election, to increase transparency
7. An external audit be carried out on counting software
8. Removing the provision for candidates paying for a recount in an election in which they are involved
9. Having the NSW Electoral Commissioner maintain the authority to conduct a recount at the request of any candidates in the election or on their own initiative
10. The cap of four digits for a decimal fraction when calculating transfer involved in preference counting in Local Government elections be removed
The amendments will be introduced for the next Local Government elections in 2020.
5/07/2018 4:41 PM