Saturday, April 05, 2003


It seems that racist populist Pauline Hanson may ultimately end up being elected to the New South Wales upper house. If this happens it means we we will be stuck with the vile woman being an MP for the next eight years. In addition to the criticisms I have made in the past to the electoral system in NSW (the Hare-Clarke electoral system doesn't work well for electorates of more than about 15 members) an additional valid criticism is that making preferential voting for Hare-Clarke optional (as is the case in NSW bit is not the case federally) makes things even worse, and has made things worse here. If full preferences were compulsory, Hanson would have no chance of being elected. I can explain why this is so on another occasion if anyone is desparate to know why, but the explanation is lengthy and arcane. Loosely, though, to be elected a candidate requires a quota of votes. If preferences are optional, some votes will be exhausted and will not count in the final analysis when the last few people to be elected are getting elected. This reduces the number of votes that the last few people to be elected need. The integrity of the Hare-Clarke system requires that every vote count in the final analysis, and it becomes seriously skewed if they are not. (Yes, this is horribly hand waving. Sorry).

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