Why voting below the line is worth the election effort

Angus Kidman 22 June 2016


Here's how to do it without stress with our handy below-the-line tool.

I'm one of those people who has always voted "below the line" for the Senate, numbering every single box. Partly that's because I want my vote to be my vote, not the suggestion of somebody else; partly it's because I enjoy working out who I dislike the most and putting them right at the end of the list.

Many Australians don't bother, and that's particularly understandable after the longest Federal election campaign in living memory from a largely uninspiring and undifferentiated mob. Write down a handful of numbers, grab your democracy sausage and get out of there. But there are two reasons why you should consider putting in a little more effort and actually ranking candidates in the senate.

The first is that at this election, you don't actually have to number every single box on the Senate form for your vote to count. As long as you number at least 12 boxes, your vote will be valid, and every preference will be counted until your vote is exhausted. While you won't get the satisfaction of putting your most-loathed Senate candidate dead last if you take that option, it does mean you don't surrender your vote to complex "preference whispering" deals.

The second is that it's easy to work out your vote in advance. If you use our nifty below-the-line Senate voting card creator, you can easily generate your own personalised how-to-vote card, and then print it out and take it to the polling booth on election day. Just choose your state, choose the parties you want to vote for, and (optionally) re-order the candidates to create your own fully customised order. You can do that for every single candidate, or just for the ones you're supportive of/utterly opposed to. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Around 15.6 million Australians will vote come 2 July. You don't get the option terribly often, so make the most of it.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

Picture: Shutterstock

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