Today, the Courier Mail reports that Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has asked Attorney-General Cameron Dick to look into whether optional preferential voting at the state level is leading to an increase in the informal vote in Queensland — presumably with the view of replacing OPV with the compulsory preferential model we have at federal elections. I’m sure that compulsory preferential voting having the consequence of boosting ALP electoral prospects in Queensland with a large Green vote has nothing at all to do with it.
No sirree — cynics we ain’t. (Cough)
There is no doubt at all that optional preferential voting existing at the state level increases the size of the informal vote at the federal election in those states. Our most recent look at it for the 2010 election result was here — and pretty much every man and his dog that has ever looked at it has come to the same conclusion.
But it’s also worth looking at what effect OPV has on state election results. At the moment, NSW and Queensland are the two states running optional preferential systems for state elections, with NSW introducing it in the early ’90s and Queensland introducing it in 1992. If we track the level of informal voting at state elections for the past 25 or so years, it’s interesting to note that NSW and Queensland — the two states with OPV — have the lowest levels of informal voting among all the large states: