Definition – Preferential Voting
In both federal and state elections Australia uses the preferential system of voting in elections for the House of Representatives. This means that voters are required to number the candidates on the ballot paper in order of preference. It is not acceptable to vote using ticks and crosses.
To win, a candidate needs to secure an absolute majority, or 50% plus one, of valid votes cast. If a candidate does not secure an absolute majority of primary, or first preference votes, then the candidate with the least number of primary votes is eliminated and his/her votes reallocated in accordance with their second preferences.
This process continues until a candidate has secured 50% plus one of the total votes. Hence, a winning candidate’s majority may be comprised of primary and preference votes. The system ensures that the candidate who is most preferred or least disliked will win.