Topher brilliantly illustrates how Australia’s preferential voting works with 1,000 marbles, and how you can stick it to the major parties this election.
He explains, using props that even the mathematically challenged can comprehend, how it is possible to elect some freedom loving minor parties to the lower house of the Federal parliament — in the hope of holding the balance of power and “keeping the bastards honest”.
Americans, this is way too advanced. The system expresses voter preferences quite well, though nothing’s perfect. You simply vote for all the candidates from best to worst.
Also, Australians exclusively use paper ballots, scrutineers looking over the shoulders of the people counting the votes, and (if necessary) recounts — and so far no one has ever seriously disputed a vote count. Election results are usually known by the end of election night, but not always. If the outcome depends on a number of close counts (for seats in the House of Representatives, which determines who forms government), it can take up to four days (1988) before the result is known — in part because the preference system requires a complex counting system.
Sadly Australian voting does not yet use voter ID, and a small amount of shenanigans does occur as a result.
hat-tip Stephen Harper