Vote side effects may include head-scratching, itchy temper

18th November 2017 6:10 AM
This election will be decided in the regions, Dr Paul Williams says. This election will be decided in the regions, Dr Paul Williams says.

ONE of the state's leading election watchers believes Queensland's new voting system could cause confusion, leading to long lines and frustration.

In April 2016 the LNP thought it had outmanoeuvred the government when it worked with the cross-bench to expand the number of seats in the next parliament.

But, in a House of Cards-type switch, Labor tacked on compulsory preferential voting, which they believed would hurt the LNP's chances.

The changes mean no matter how much you love, hate or don't care about a political party, you must number every ballot paper box in your preferred order.

Parties will no longer be able to encourage voters to "just vote one" - a change that may confuse voters and lead to more votes going to minor parties including One Nation.

Griffith University state political expert Paul Williams said optional preferential voting had been a "sort of halfway house" between a first past the post system and the full preferential voting system.

Dr Williams said older voters would be familiar with the new system as it mirrored federal voting and the way Queensland voted before 1992.

But he urged young voters in regional Queensland not to let cynicism get them down.

"My message to them would be if they're disgruntled, disenchanted, disenfranchised, if they feel Brisbane's running their lives, that's even more reason to vote," he said.

But Dr Williams warned confusion from the changes could fray tempers at some polling stations, with it taking longer to fill out ballot papers than in previous elections, which Dr Williams said that could mean longer queues, and "long queues will mean there'll be some cranky people".

 

There have also been significant changes to electoral boundaries and electorate names during this term.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland abolished seats and created new ones in Brisbane, north Queensland and southern parts of the state, while also shifting boundaries across the state.

Dr Williams said despite the new voting system and boundaries, the election would play out like previous Queensland elections.

"This election will be decided in the regions," he said.

"The seats will change hands more commonly in regional Queensland, in the north."

He said the surging One Nation vote would likely be strong in various regions across the state - with recent polling showing it came at the LNP's expense.

Dr Williams said One Nation would be strong in western Queensland, metropolitan areas around Logan and the Gold Coast, and parts of central and northern Queensland.

"There will be a big One Nation vote in Rockhampton but a minuscule LNP vote. I would say Rocky's safe for Labor," he said.

Labor kept hold of Rockhampton even after its 2012 election "wipeout" so it could be expected to hang on this time too.

Dr Williams said party leaders would issue suggestions for how supporters should mark their preferences.

"In the bush, where the One Nation vote is strong, you'll see LNP preference Labor last."

Labor was more likely to view One Nation as the worst option and urge voters to put them last.

Dr Williams said Labor's preferences would likely help the LNP keep some seats from falling to One Nation.

But some "recalcitrant" trade unions viewed the LNP and not One Nation as the biggest enemy, so they might encourage members to make the LNP their least preferred option.

The new system meant Electoral Commission Queensland would need to invest in educating voters, Dr Williams said.

"The electoral commission has to run a very big (campaign) to remind people you must number your ballot," he said.

Voting early is possible for anyone, with pre-poll centres now open across Queensland, in other states and even overseas.

Pre-polling will close at 6pm Friday, November 24. Polling booths are open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday, November 25.

The ECQ said anyone could vote early, and several pre-poll centres would operate in the weeks leading up to the election. - NewsRegional