Queenslanders Embracing Optional Preferential Voting

Queensland and New South Wales are the only States to employ the Optional Preferential System of voting.

Optional Preferential, unlike the compulsory preferential system used in other States and in the House of Representatives, allows voters to cast as many or as few preferences as they wish.

For example, a voter may simply place the number “1” next to a candidate and leave all other squares blank. This will count as a formal vote. Of course, if preferences are needed to find a winner, this vote will be exhausted and the voter will have missed the opportunity to influence the result.

Optional preferential voting was introduced in Queensland by the Goss Labor government and used in the 1992, 1995, 1998 and 2001 State elections.

A survey conducted by the Electoral Commission of Queensland shows that 60% of Queenslanders in the February 2001 election cast a “number 1” only vote. Another 32% of voters allocated all preferences, whilst only 8% chose a partial preference vote.

These statistics are proof of the success of Peter Beattie’s campaign slogan to “just vote 1”.

Text of a media release issued by the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie.

Premier Peter Beattie has welcomed a survey by the Electoral Commission of Queensland which shows that most Queenslanders are embracing optional preferential voting.

“The report says that voters are increasingly endorsing the reason why optional preferential voting was introduced – that voters should not be forced into voting for candidates they do not support,” said Mr Beattie.

“The report says that the February 2001 State Election was the fourth to be held with optional preferential voting and the results showed that electors were now thoroughly familiar with it.

“The survey shows the majority of voters are utilising optional preferential voting, with only 32 per cent of voters using the full preferential system, 60 per cent voting only for their first choice candidate and 8 per cent opting for a partial preference vote.”

The survey was held in 11 electorates:

  • Capalaba, Indooroopilly, Moggill, Waterford in Brisbane
  • Burleigh, Cairns, Gympie and Toowoomba North in provincial Queensland
  • Burdekin, Nicklin and Warrego in rural Queensland

The report says that all but two of the seats were decided on preferences.

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