Candidate preferences for Geelong Mayor election

Late on Monday 1 October, the Victorian Electoral Commission released candidate preferences for the coming Geelong Mayor election.

Here’s each candidate’s nomination of preferences, in numerical order.

Sue Bull

  1. Sue Bull
  2. John Mitchell
  3. Graeme Robin
  4. Ron Watt
  5. Frank Rozpara
  6. Stephanie Asher
  7. John Smith
  8. Keith Fagg
  9. Bernadette Uzelac

Ron Watt

  1. Ron Watt
  2. Stephanie Asher
  3. Bernadette Uzelac
  4. Sue Bull
  5. Keith Fagg
  6. John Mitchell
  7. Graeme Robin
  8. Frank Rozpara
  9. John Smith

Frank Rozpara

  1. Frank Rozpara
  2. John Mitchell
  3. Graeme Robin
  4. Bernadette Uzelac
  5. John Smith
  6. Sue Bull
  7. Stephanie Asher
  8. Ron Watt
  9. Keith Fagg

Stephanie Asher

  1. Stephanie Asher
  2. Bernadette Uzelac
  3. Graeme Robin
  4. Sue Bull
  5. Keith Fagg
  6. Ron Watt
  7. John Mitchell
  8. Frank Rozpara
  9. John Smith

John Smith

  1. John Smith
  2. John Mitchell
  3. Keith Fagg
  4. Bernadette Uzelac
  5. Graeme Robin
  6. Sue Bull
  7. Ron Watt
  8. Frank Rozpara
  9. Stephanie Asher

John Mitchell

  1. John Mitchell
  2. Bernadette Uzelac
  3. Sue Bull
  4. Graeme Robin
  5. John Smith
  6. Keith Fagg
  7. Ron Watt
  8. Stephanie Asher
  9. Frank Rozpara

Keith Fagg

  1. Keith Fagg
  2. Ron Watt
  3. Bernadette Uzelac
  4. Stephanie Asher
  5. Graeme Robin
  6. John Smith
  7. Frank Rozpara
  8. John Mitchell
  9. Sue Bull

Bernadette Uzelac

  1. Bernadette Uzelac
  2. Stephanie Asher
  3. John Mitchell
  4. Ron Watt
  5. Keith Fagg
  6. Graeme Robin
  7. Frank Rozpara
  8. Sue Bull
  9. John Smith

Graeme Robin

  1. Graeme Robin
  2. Stephanie Asher
  3. John Mitchell
  4. Keith Fagg
  5. Bernadette Uzelac
  6. Ron Watt
  7. Frank Rozpara
  8. Sue Bull
  9. John Smith

A brief reflection on preferential voting

If the results of a Geelong Advertiser poll are anything to go by, Keith Fagg may almost get the absolute majority (50% +1) of primary votes (the ‘1’s) required to take office. But if he doesn’t, that’s when the preferences will come into play, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Local Government Act 1989 (Schedule 3, Clause 10).

Preferences are a strange electoral beast. Voters are potentially required to allocate their vote to a candidate who they don’t even like, just so their vote isn’t rendered informal. For example, and this is only an example, imagine that you want Sue Bull to be Mayor of Geelong but don’t really care for any of the other candidates. In a preferential system of voting, if after all the ‘1’ votes are counted nobody has an absolute majority, then the person with the lowest number of primary votes is eliminated and the No. 2s on his or her ballot papers are allocated to the relevant candidates. If the 2010 federal election results are anything to go by, when Sue ran for the seat of Corio and received 1.17% of the vote, then she may very well receive the lowest number of primary votes. Sue would then be eliminated and your No. 2 candidate would end up receiving your vote.

This may be fine if your support for Sue extends to a support for the preferences that she has nominated above, in which case your vote would transfer to John Mitchell and, if Mitch is likewise eliminated, Graeme Robin, Ron Watt, and so on. But just because a candidate nominates preferences doesn’t mean you have to vote that way. You could choose to number your ballot paper in any order that you wish. So if you want to vote for Sue, feel ambivalent about most other candidates but know that you definitely don’t want John Mitchell to become mayor, you’d number the ballot paper accordingly: Bull 1 … Mitchell 9.

Which brings me to another reason why preferential voting is a strange electoral beast. In a close race, the preferences of the candidate who receives the fewest primary votes are the most valuable. As mentioned, if no candidate has an absolute majority after the primary vote has been counted, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and that candidate’s votes are given to the No. 2s on his or her ballot papers. This is interesting to note when it comes to the mysterious John Smith.

John Smith has avoided all publicity so far. It is reasonable to assume that his primary vote will suffer as a result. Yet if he receives the lowest number of primary votes and no other candidate has an absolute majority after the primary votes are counted, John Mitchell will be the beneficiary of John Smith’s reticence — if, that is, Smith’s primary voters follow his above suggestion for allocating preferences. This would be very handy for Mitchell if there was a close race between him and another candidate. Those preferences, albeit few, might just get Mitchell over the line, especially if that other candidate had few No. 2 or 3 preference allocations.

These are just a couple of examples of how preferences could influence the election result.

Respond, rebuke, participate: