Electoral Systems of Australia's Parliaments and Local Governments

Australia's voting systems can be divided into three major groups:

  • Plurality/First-Past-the-Post

    The candidate who polls the highest number of formal votes – even if that number is less than 50% of the formal vote – is elected.
  • Majoritarian/Majority

    In Australia majority systems are sometimes called preferential systems. The term "preferential" refers to a voter being able to indicate an order of preference for the candidates on the ballot paper.
  • Proportional Representation (PR)

    Proportional representation systems are used for elections in multi-member electorates to elect candidates who receive a set proportion of the vote. In Australia, these systems are classified into two categories – List Systems and Single Transferable Vote (STV).

Proportional Representation Voting Systems of Australia's Parliaments

Proportional representation electoral systems are used in Australia to elect candidates to the Senate, the upper houses of NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, the Lower House of Tasmania, the ACT Legislative Assembly and many Local Government Councils.

Preferential Voting Systems of Australia's Parliaments

Preferential voting systems as used in Australia are majority systems where candidates must receive an absolute majority, more than 50% of the total formal votes cast, to be elected. If the absolute majority is not gained on the first count, then preferences are distributed until an absolute majority is obtained. The term "preferential voting" means voters can indicate an order of preferences for candidates on the ballot paper, i.e. who they want as their 1st choice, 2nd choice and so on.