Writing on ballots

Refried Noodle

Club Legend
Jun 21, 2005
AFL Club
As long as you number every box and don't write anything else in the boxes your vote is valid.

You can scribble and write all sorts of hello messages to the counters around the edge of the ballot paper if you like too.

Chase the Ace

Premiership Player
Nov 21, 2005
Melways 2G G11
AFL Club
Other Teams
The rules have changed. In the past if had your preferences 1,2,3,3,3,3 your first two prefences counted but if they were elimanted your vote became worthless. Now if all candiates arn't preferenced properly you vote is automaticlly void.
I'm not surprised that you are wrong

Albert Langer: Australias First Political Prisoner?
Laksiri Fernando*
According to Amnesty International Australia produced its first prisoner of conscience in the country for over 20 years just before the March general elections. Albert Langer, a well known political activist who asked Australian voters to give preference to smaller political parties at the expense of the Labour and Liberal parties, was initially sentenced to ten weeks of imprisonment on 14 February 1996.

On 7 March however, the Full Bench of the Federal Court ordered Albert Langers immediate release after allowing his appeal against the severity of his ten week imprisonment. At the time of his release Langer had served over three weeks in prison.

Langers release was the result of a campaign at home and abroad. His appeal against the jail term was supported by the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The initial protest against his imprisonment came from Amnesty International. In an urgent appeal issued on 23 February, Amnesty International in London urged the Australian Federal Government to release Albert Langer immediately and unconditionally.

Langers case raises important issues concerning the freedom of expression. The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Australia is a party to the Covenant and also to its Optional Protocol.

An order for an injunction was filed by the Australian Electoral Commission on 8 February, twenty four days before the general elections. The Victorian Supreme Court found Langer in breach of section 240 of the Electoral Act which specifies how a voter should indicate his/her preference in numerical order. During the election campaign, many small parties and groups condemned the major parties and canvassed the electorate not to vote for those in power or seeking power. However, Langer found a method, which he expressed by peacefully distributing leaflets, through which persons who vote for a small party or parties could completely avoid giving second or third preference to a major party by voting 1, 2, 2, 2 or 1, 2, 3, 3.

The Australian Electoral Commission expressed the view that the optional form of voting advocated by Langer was an acceptable way to vote and, by doing so, no one would spoil their ballot paper. However, the Commission argued that Langers advocacy of the optional method breached the clearly specified method in the Electoral Act! As Amnesty International stated: We find it difficult to comprehend why the Australian Electoral Commission on the one hand declares as acceptable the optional form of voting advocated by Albert Langer, while on the other hand initiates legal action which ultimately led to his imprisonment for 10 weeks.
The Australian Electoral Commission wasn't very happy with this campaign. While it argued that Langer had the right to vote this way, he should not be encouraging others to do so. The Victorian Supreme Court ultimately agreed and then ordered that Langer be jailed for contempt of court when he continued his campaign after being ordered to stop. When Langer was sent to prison Amnesty International declared him Australia's first prisoner of conscience for more than twenty years, and called for his release.

There is no question that, in many respects, the Australian electoral system is one of the most democratic in the world. The single member constituency system makes parliamentary representatives accountable to their electorates, while preferential voting prevents distortions and undemocratic outcomes as is the case with many first-past-the-post systems.

However, as unfortunately revealed in the Langer case, there is little appreciation of the full or complete freedom of expression which is an implied right in the electoral system and a necessary ingredient for the proper conduct of a democratic election. If not during an election, then when else might one exercise his or her full freedom of expression! Another controversial aspect of the Australian electoral system is the compulsory voting requirement. Cant one express his/her choice by not voting at all in an election? These are questionswhich require thought and solutions.

But perhaps the most obnoxious aspect perhaps is s329A of the Electoral Act, which provides for prison sentences of up to 6 months for anyone who publicly encourages voters to fill in a ballot paper other than in a clearly preferential manner.
This section contradicts freedom of expression during an election campaign with respect to the most relevant issue of how to vote or how not to vote. This is a section which must be removed from the Electoral Act.

The most distressing point in the whole case was, as the popular columnist Padraic McGuiness has stated (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March), Langers viciously heavy sentence for speaking his mind. If efforts to seek his early release had failed, Albert Langer would have languished in the high security Pentridge prison until 30 April, twenty eight days after the elections.

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