Voting informal just because you don't understand the Australian voting system is not a smart thing to do. Admittedly, the way Australians elect representatives is a bit odd, but other countries have idiosyncratic election methods as well. The US collegial way is considered far too complicated to explain to an outsider. Though quite simple, the British process of first past the post tends to favor a choice between two parties. It was unusual for the third party, the Liberal Democrats, to win so many seats as in the last election.

The Australian voting system is not that complicated. In Britain votes going to a third party are lost, totally. Just remember that in Australia a vote to a weaker party is counted as a full vote to the first or second party leading in the count. It doesn't matter where you put the major parties in your numbered list on the voting paper. What does count is which of these parties appears higher in your list. The party highest, i.e., closer to number "1", in your list is allocated your vote. That about sums it up.

Voting for the Senate is ordinary proportional voting with an Australian twist. The number of Senate seats is six for each state and two per territory. For a double dissolution 12 seats in each state are up for grabs plus two for each territory. If candidates were elected by voters selecting only one prospective Senator the result would be much the same as Australia's proportional system.

The voting paper has a horizontal line drawn across it. To vote below the line, number all of the squares next to candidates, "1", "2", "3"... and so on until you reach the total number of candidates - choosing the most favored candidate as "1" then allocating accordingly. Voting above the line is known as a "ticket vote". If you put number "1" in one of the squares in the top section your votes are "preallocated" by the party you chose as "1", as if you filled out all squares below the line.

All the number "1" votes are counted by party. In each state, if a party has 14.3% of number "1" votes (a quota) the party has a Senator elected. Two Senators get up when more than 28.6% "formal" votes are gained. A ridiculous complex mathematical formula is used to determine the remaining one or two of the six Senate seats not achieving a quota in each state. Basically, selection is worked out based on highest preference by the numbers on the ballot papers.

Considering ticket votes comprised nearly 95% of all Senate votes in the 2001 election it is time for a review of the system. As noted, the way selection is carried out is ridiculous.

As long as you remember the forgoing explanation voting is quite straightforward.

The Australian voting system is not that complicated. In Britain votes going to a third party are lost, totally. Just remember that in Australia a vote to a weaker party is counted as a full vote to the first or second party leading in the count. It doesn't matter where you put the major parties in your numbered list on the voting paper. What does count is which of these parties appears higher in your list. The party highest, i.e., closer to number "1", in your list is allocated your vote. That about sums it up.

Voting for the Senate is ordinary proportional voting with an Australian twist. The number of Senate seats is six for each state and two per territory. For a double dissolution 12 seats in each state are up for grabs plus two for each territory. If candidates were elected by voters selecting only one prospective Senator the result would be much the same as Australia's proportional system.

The voting paper has a horizontal line drawn across it. To vote below the line, number all of the squares next to candidates, "1", "2", "3"... and so on until you reach the total number of candidates - choosing the most favored candidate as "1" then allocating accordingly. Voting above the line is known as a "ticket vote". If you put number "1" in one of the squares in the top section your votes are "preallocated" by the party you chose as "1", as if you filled out all squares below the line.

All the number "1" votes are counted by party. In each state, if a party has 14.3% of number "1" votes (a quota) the party has a Senator elected. Two Senators get up when more than 28.6% "formal" votes are gained. A ridiculous complex mathematical formula is used to determine the remaining one or two of the six Senate seats not achieving a quota in each state. Basically, selection is worked out based on highest preference by the numbers on the ballot papers.

Considering ticket votes comprised nearly 95% of all Senate votes in the 2001 election it is time for a review of the system. As noted, the way selection is carried out is ridiculous.

As long as you remember the forgoing explanation voting is quite straightforward.