Understanding the Australian voting system

Australian election
Federal election Senate and House of Representatives voting boxes (Photo: supplied)

11 June 2016

Oz Kiwi understands that not all Kiwis can vote but new voters need to understand the system. In this Australian Federal election you get to vote both for the House of Representatives and the Senate. The election will be held on Saturday 18 May 2019.

The House of Representatives (Lower House) has 151 Members (MPs) each representing an electorate, as per the New Zealand electoral system.

On your House of Representatives ballot paper number all the candidates in order of preference. You must number every box for your vote to count.

Have a go at a House of Representatives practice vote

The Senate (Upper House) has 76 Senators who represent a State or Territory, they can stand as an independent or represent a Party. There are twelve senators from each of the six states and two from each of the mainland territories.

The Senate has a new voting system this election. You must either:

  • number at least 6 boxes for Parties above the line, OR
  • number at least 12 boxes for individual candidates below the line.

Try a Senate practice vote.

Preferential voting explained

The numbered boxes are your preferences. For more information on how preferences work read the Dennis the Election Koala cartoon. Note: the cartoon is designed to be read as a printed document, start reading from the heading, This is Australia, not America. You can’t “waste your vote”!

Preferential voting explained

Dennis the Election Koala explains “How to vote in Australian Federal elections”. (Source: Chicken Nation and Parliamentary Education Office)

The Federal election on 2nd July is a ‘double dissolution’ election as both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament will stand for election. This does not normally happen but the Coalition Government dissolved both Houses of Parliament after the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) Bill failed to pass for a second time. This is a Double Dissolution trigger.

Find your Federal election candidates.

For more information on how to vote go to the Australian Electoral Commission website.


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