Voting system set to change at local council polls

QUEENSLAND council elections are set for a massive shake-up with proposed government changes putting the power of who is elected firmly back into voters' hands.

Mayors and councillors will no longer be able to rely on their popularity and the size of their war chests to secure a seat on council based on the current first-past-the-post system.

Currently voters are required to list their number one preference for mayor when casting their vote.

However, under a suite of electoral reforms introduced into State Parliament, people will be able to vote for their number one mayoral candidate in preference order.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli, said the changes surrounding preference voting when electing a mayor was a win for communities.

"It is not fair that people only have the opportunity to vote for one person," he said.

"In the same way I do not think we should be forcing people to have to preference, you should not be excluding them from exercising their right if they wish to.

"People should be able to choose who they like the most and indicate who they like the least."

Reader poll

Do you support first past the post or optional preferential voting?

This poll ended on 19 June 2014.

First past the post: It's simpler - 38%

Optional: You can choose who you least like - 21%

First past post: Less likely to have teams - 8%

Optional: Best candidate should be choice of most - 31%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Similar changes will also see a shake-up on how councillors are elected in undivided councils at future elections.

Voters will now have the option to vote for as many candidates as they choose, up to the number of councillor positions available.

Mr Crisafulli said it allowed people to vote for as little or as many candidates on the ballot paper and their vote would be valid.

He said it would mean voters no longer had to number long lists of candidates.

Other changes under the proposal include requiring candidates to register how-to-vote cards and requiring voters to produce identification when casting their vote at polling booths.

The changes do not apply to Ipswich council because it is a divided council.

Topics:  council elections, mayoral election, voting preferences



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