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Modified d'Hondt Electoral System

Updated 19 Jun 2014

The 1989 and 1992 ACT Legislative Assembly elections were conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission using the "modified d'Hondt" electoral system.

Introduction

The 1989 and 1992 elections were held under the set of electoral rules known as the "modified d'Hondt" system. Modified d'Hondt is a combination of a European party list system of proportional representation known as the d'Hondt system, the Australian Senate system of proportional representation, and various methods for preferential voting for candidates and parties, both within and across party lines.

The Australian Capital Territory comprised one electorate for the election. However, electors were only able to cast ordinary votes within their own federal electoral Division of either Canberra or Fraser. Electors voting in the other electoral Division had to cast an absent vote.

The Ballot Paper

The ballot paper resembled a Senate ballot paper in format. It was divided in two by a horizontal 'ballot line'. The names of the registered political parties which nominated candidates appeared above the ballot line, followed by the names of the independent candidates. Below the ballot line, positioned below the relevant party names, appeared in columns the names of the candidates of the registered political parties. The order of the registered political parties on the ballot paper was determined by a draw conducted by the Australian Electoral Officer for the Australian Capital Territory. A further draw was made to determine the order of the independent candidates. Unlike the Senate system, electors could mark valid preferences both above and below the ballot line.

Stages of the Scrutiny

The scrutiny has eight stages:

  1. The formality check: at this stage, any ballot papers which fail to satisfy the criteria for formality are excluded from further consideration.
  2. The count of first preference votes for each party and independent candidate. In the 1989 election, first preference votes for each candidate within a party were counted at the first stage of the scrutiny. Amendments to the Australian Capital Territory (Electoral) Act 1988 meant that only total first preference votes for the party, and independent candidates, are counted at the first stage. Votes for candidates are only counted at later stages for parties remaining in the count, in order to allocate seats to candidates.
  3. The initial round of exclusions: at this stage, all parties and independent candidates that have failed to poll a prescribed number (the cut-off quota - approximately 5.56%) of first preferences are excluded in bulk, and such of their ballot papers as indicate or are deemed to indicate available preferences beyond the first are transferred in accordance with these preferences to the continuing parties and independent candidates, and the vote totals of the continuing parties and independent candidates are adjusted accordingly.
  4. The provisional allocation of seats to the continuing parties and independent candidates: this is done on the basis of their adjusted vote totals, according to a specified 'highest average' formula. Any independent candidates allocated seats at this stage are said to be 'provisionally elected', as are the candidates of any party which is allocated a number of seats greater than or equal to its number of candidates.
  5. The identification of provisionally elected party candidates: this stage is required if there is a party which has been provisionally allocated at least one seat, but still fewer seats than it has candidates. In that case, the seats are distributed amongst the candidates of the party according to the preferences for those candidates shown or deemed to be shown on the votes polled by or transferred to that party, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation, and the candidates to whom the seats are distributed are the ones provisionally elected.
  6. The transfer of votes from candidates not provisionally elected, and from parties none of whose candidates were provisionally elected: at this stage, such of these votes as indicate or are deemed to indicate next available preferences are transferred in accordance with those preferences to other continuing candidates, and the vote totals of the continuing parties and independent candidates are adjusted accordingly.
  7. The final allocation of seats to the continuing parties and independent candidates: this is done on the basis of their further adjusted vote, according to the same formula used at stage 4.
  8. The final allocation of seats to party candidates: this is only required if there is a party which has won at least one seat, but still fewer seats than it has candidates. In that case, the seats are distributed among the candidates of the party according to the preferences for those candidates shown or deemed to be shown on the votes polled by or transferred to that party, using the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation.