Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory use an electoral counting system like no other in the nation.
In 1856, Thomas Hare, an English lawyer proposed the notion of a proportional representation system for elections – this came to be known as the Hare system.
Then, in 1888, Tasmania’s Attorney-General Andrew Inglis Clark presented a modified version of the Hare system, which was inscribed in state law in 1896.
Hare-Clark has been utilised in Tasmania ever since.
A single transferable vote system, Hare-Clark has some similarities to the system used in Senate elections.
However, where parties determine the order in which candidates in Senate elections appear on the ballot paper, Hare-Clark has different varieties of ballot papers distributed so as to reduce the unfair influence of donkey votes.
Unlike the system which informs House of Representatives elections, Hare-Clark elections see candidates from the same party competing with each other to win a seat in a given electorate.
University of Tasmania lecturer and political scientist Kate Crowley said Hare-Clark elections saw people voting for candidates and not necessarily for a particular party.
“What you’re going to see in a Hare-Clark election … [is] candidates campaigning against each other within their own party, as well as between parties, because it’s a very personality-based vote,” Associate Professor Crowley said.
It’s a very personality-based vote.Associate Professor Kate Crowley
”It shakes out that [people] end up mainly voting for the two parties, but they pick candidates as they see fit.”
Hare-Clark is also used in the state’s local government elections.
Each of Tasmania’s five electorates must elect five candidates at a state election, to fill the 25 seats in the House of Assembly.
The party that wins a clear majority of seats goes on to form a government.
In order for a candidate to be elected, they must receive a quota, which equates to one sixth or 16.7 per cent of the formal votes.
During an election count, the first step is to distribute all first preference votes.
Once a candidate receives a quota, their surplus votes are distributed to the remaining candidates according to preferences
When all of an elected candidate’s surplus votes are distributed, the remaining candidate with the fewest votes is excluded from the count. This goes on until another candidate reaches a quota.
An excluded candidate’s ballot papers are redistributed according to the order in which they were received by the excluded candidate.
The counting process continues until five candidates are elected in a division.
It is common for one or two candidates to be elected without obtaining a quota.