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Preferential voting

When you vote for your local member of the House of Representatives you need to decide who you like the most, the second most and so on. Discover why preferences matter on election day with the ABC’s Behind the News.

Video duration: 3 min 34

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In a lounge room, 5 teenagers (3 girls and 2 boys) are sitting on a black corner sofa. Some of the teenagers are holding bowls of popcorn and chips. Another teenage girl (Girl 1) is standing behind the sofa with DVD cases in her hands.

Girl 1 (standing): All right guys, it’s movie time!

The teenagers on the sofa discuss what they want to watch.

Girl 2: What do want to watch?

Boy 1: Sweet! A scary movie

Narrator: When a group of people have to make a decision together, it can get complicated.

Girl 1 stops the arguing and holds up each DVD in turn.

The 2 boys put up their hand.

Girl 1: Alright! We’ll take a vote. Who’s for The scary thing from Horror Lake?

 

Girl 3 puts up her hand.

Girl 1: Henry Porter and the chamber potter secret?

Girl 2 looks skeptical and shakes her head.

Girl 1: Best boyfriend ever? Me.

Girl 2 puts up her hand.

Girl 1: Mutants from the year 3000?

Girl 4 puts up her hand.

Girl 1 rolls her eyes.

The 2 boys give each other a high five.

Girl 1: Sparrowman? *sigh* Alright. It looks like it is The scary thing from Horror Lake.

Boy 1: Sweet.

A DVD is loaded into a DVD player. Girl 1 sits down on the sofa and points the remote control at the TV. She and Girl 2 look unhappy but the boys look happy.

Girls 2 and 3 are holding each other, and Girl 2 has her face covered by a pillow. The boys look as if they are enjoying the movie.

Narrator: Wait a second! Yeah, that’s one way of making a decision. But are you sure it’s the best one?

The boys jump back as if they have had a fright, smile and fist pump.

Girl 2 covers her face with a pillow; Girl 1 turns her head away.

The screen breaks away to black and white footage of a woman screaming.

Narrator: Two people will love scary things but the rest of the group might hate it. And do you really want 4 out of 6 people having nightmares?

Girl 2 peeps from over the top of her pillow.

The film rewinds to the start of the scene.

Narrator: There is another way.

Girl 1 is standing behind the sofa.

Girl 1: Well, if you can’t have your first choice, what’s your second?

The camera pans to each teenager as they make their choice.

Girl 4: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind Henry Porter.

Girl 3: Sparrowman’s ok.

Girl 1: I guess Sparrowman could be ok.

Boy 1: I could check out the mutant one.

Girl 2: Yeah, I guess I could watch Henry Porter again.

Boy 2: Yeah, I go with Henry Porter.

A wide shot of all the teenagers sitting on the sofa. Above their heads are the DVD covers of their first and second choice of movie. The Henry Porter covers are circled.

Narrator: Now we’re getting somewhere. While Henry Porter was only one person’s first choice, 3 more people have made it their second choice. So 4 out of 6 people are going to be fairly happy.

A dog joins the group.

Narrator: And we have maximum movie enjoyment.

On the TV is a spoof of the Harry Potter movies.

Movie character: You’re a wizard Henry. A real life wizard. And do spells.

A montage of people voting in federal elections, including a woman being handed her ballot papers.

A close up of a ballot paper with candidates including Patrick from the Aqua Party, Robert from the Orange Party, Vicki from the Pink Party and Sue from the Lime Party.

Text: Preferential Voting

Narrator: This is similar to the way Australians vote in elections, it’s called preferential voting.

People completing their ballots in voting screens.

Counting completed green House of Representatives ballot papers.

People placing their completed ballot in the ballot box.

Text: Preferential Voting

Narrator: Instead of people just choosing the one candidate they like best, they give each one a number; 1 for their favourite, 2 for their second favourite, 3 for their third and so on.

In a lounge room, 6 teenagers (4 girls and 2 boys) are sitting on a black corner sofa. Four of the teenagers disappear, leaving 2 girls left on the sofa.

Narrator: Let’s take 4 candidates as an example. You guys will do.

Four teenagers dressed in suit jackets stand behind lecterns. A blank sign hangs in front of each lectern. On the brick wall behind the teenagers is a sign that reads ‘1000 voters. 501 to win’.

Narrator: To win your seat, you need half of all the votes plus one. So, if there are say a 1000 voters, you need 501 to win. Got it?

A young woman in a black t-shirt and red cardigan, sits at a table. Arranged in front of her are four piles of green House of Representatives ballot papers.

The woman holds up a ballot paper to show the candidate that has the first preference on that ballot.

Narrator: When all the votes are in, the counters add up all of the first preferences for each candidate and we end up with these scores.

The signs in front of the lectern of each teenager have numbers on them. They read (from left):

Boy 2 – 350

Girl 1 – 280

Boy 1 – 220

Girl 2 – 150

Girl 2 disappears off screen.

Narrator: As you can see, Kyle is in the lead but he doesn’t have more than half the votes. So, it’s not over. Now we eliminate the person with the least votes. Sorry Kodi.

A young woman in a black t-shirt and red cardigan, sits at a table. Arranged in front of her are four piles of green House of Representatives ballot papers.

The woman holds up a ballot paper to show the candidate that has the second preference on that ballot.

Narrator: But the people who voted for Kodi still get a say. The counters go back to all of her votes and see what people put as their second preference.

The signs in front of the lectern of the 3 teenagers have sums on them. They read (from left):

Boy 2 – 350 + 60=410

Girl 1 – 280 + 80=360

Boy 1 – 220 +10=230

Boy 1 disappears off screen.

Narrator: Those votes get added to the totals of the remaining candidates. Now, Kyle has 410, Annabel has 360 and Joshua has 230 but there’s still no winner. So, Joshua gets eliminated and we add up the preferences again.

The signs in front of the lectern of the 2 teenagers have sums on them. They read (from left):

Boy 2 – 410 + 70=480

Girl 1 – 360 + 160=520

Balloons are released and Girl 1 celebrates.

Narrator: Now Kyle has 480 and Annabel has 520. So, even though she was behind at first, she’s just won the election.

Montage of people giving out and taking how to vote cards outside polling places.

Montage of people placing their completed ballot papers in the ballot box.

Narrator: Because preferences are so important, political parties often try to convince people to order their choice in a way that suits them the best. That’s why they hand out how to vote cards at polling booths. But of course, it’s only a suggestion. In the end, it is up to voters to choose who they like the best.

In a lounge room, 6 teenagers (4 girls and 2 boys) are sitting on a black corner sofa. Some of the teenagers are holding bowls of popcorn and chips.

Narrator: And they’ll have to choose wisely because their decision will last for a lot longer than a movie. 

Text: BTN