Jul 10, 2013

Supersized ballot papers: is e-voting the answer?

Voters will grapple with enormous ballot papers in this year's federal election, as micro-parties proliferate. Freelance journalist Sally Whyte asks if there's an easier way to cast your vote.

With 46 parties registered and 11 still up for consideration, a Senate ballot paper of epic proportions will roll off the printers for this year’s federal election. Voters may be snickering at the 1.02 metre-wide paper — and the Australian Electoral Commission-issued magnifying sheets to read the six-point type — but there are serious problems being flagged. The supersized ballot papers may lead to more informal votes, and extra work in counting.

Some private firms who officiate at elections told Crikey that the oversized ballots may result in logistical “challenges” for the AEC when it comes to handling, packing and securing the larger papers — extra space may be needed.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’sĀ terms and conditions


Leave a comment

28 thoughts on “Supersized ballot papers: is e-voting the answer?

  1. Roger Clifton

    The voting intention is quite clear of someone who puts a “1” and “2” on his voting card and leaves the too-many other candidates blank. We know exactly what his first and second preferences are, it is only his third etc preferences which are informal.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that such a paper is judged informal and his clear intention is rejected. If that is case, then it’s pretty clear that we should change the rules to accommodate the large choice of candidates. Heck, it only implies a change in the counting procedure.

  2. Limited News

    The key quote above is “preserving the integrity we get out of our paper system”.

    Glad to see some sensible commentary on electronic voting as opposed to typical e-voting gee-whizzery. Thanks Crikey.

  3. The_roth

    Doesn’t matter how we vote a politician always gets in šŸ˜›

  4. Ugliness

    Why not provide a method to vote preferences above the line as well?

    I vote below the line because I want to order the parties, not the explicit senators (thanks to that practice I can honestly say I was not party to electing Sen. Fielding šŸ™‚

    It would be much easier if I could just block vote the parties by numbering them above the line.


    Most of the space on the ballot is taken by boxes large enough to write in.

    Make it an electronic system that does not count the ballots, make it simply print out a ballot with the candiates listed in the order selected on the screen. The person will be able to verify it easily and then drop it in the paper box to be counted as usual.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    I have long supported electronic voting and am pleased to have my enthusiasm moderated by some sensible elaboration of the difficulties. So for now I concede that electronic voting should be used only for low stakes elections.

  7. John64

    I don’t see why we can’t abolish – for those who are in a party – the individual names below the line on the Senate paper. If you choose to be in a party, you accept that you miss out on the chance to have individual voters vote for you – and have to accept the party’s order of their candidates. That’d remove most of the names and reduce a substantial amount of space.

  8. Gavin Moodie

    It seems a pity to relinquish electronic counting, which would be one of the biggest advantages of electronic voting.


    Gavin, the problem with electronic counting is that it is very hard to verify. When apple can’t even stop people breaking into their phones with hundreds of billions of dollars at their disposal and a decade of full scale development time what is a government going to get for a few hundred million?

  10. Gavin Moodie

    Yes, I understand that electronic votes are currently very difficult to verify, hence my welcoming this considered piece. However, it incongruous that we have developed a system for verifying electronic funds transfer but not electronic votes.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details