The Legislative Council’s action in banning indicated preferences from how to vote cards, has put paid to the use of dummy candidates but have ignored the main cause of the problem being the “Donkey Vote” which had actually encouraged the use of dummies, (a candidate who gives away a second preference without reciprocation), for candidates drawn at the bottom of the ballot paper.
A candidate who draws number one has a massive advantage. In point of fact, the last 2 Local Government elections held for Manningham Council, 90% of the candidates who had drawn number one at the top of the ballot paper were elected.
Francis Day wrote to the review committee suggesting that the Robson Rotation of ballot positions be introduced in future local government elections.. “I thought it was really a “no brainer” to introduce the system because it allows each candidate an equal share of every position on the ballot paper. They acknowledged my letter but made no comment on my suggestion which has caused me to question the motives and the intent of the review panel. The only conclusion one can draw with this decision is that they want to make the election a lottery rather than making it possible for the best candidates to be elected and reaffirms my belief that both major parties together with the planning bureaucrats regard councils as obstructive to the future planning of Melbourne and want to replace their aldermen with commissioners as they did back in the late nineties. The Robson Rotation system is so obvious a
solution that is hard to believe why it could not be adopted in Victoria as it has worked so well in Tasmania and the ACT”. Up until now , unless you were drawn at the top of ballot paper, you would need a lot of luck, hard work plus two or more dummies to have a chance of being elected”.
What is Robson rotation?
The Hon. Neil Robson MHA developed and promoted a process for rotating the order of
candidate names on ballot papers for Tasmanian parliamentary elections. The Tasmanian
Electoral Act was amended in 1979 to require multiple versions of the ballot paper so that
each candidate name appeared an equal number of times at the top, the bottom and in other
‘favoured positions’ on the ballot paper. This new process became known as ‘Robson
By rotating the order of candidate names, ballot papers showing preferences marked
sequentially down a column (linear votes) are shared equally by all candidates rather than only favouring the top candidate listed on the single version ballot paper.
Under Robson rotation, the number of versions is equal to the number of candidates in the
column. Robson rotation for 5 candidates is shown below:
(drawn by lot)
5th rotation 2nd rotation 4th rotation 3rd rotation
Candidate A Candidate B Candidate C Candidate D Candidate E
Candidate B Candidate D Candidate A Candidate E Candidate C
Candidate C Candidate A Candidate E Candidate B Candidate D
Candidate D Candidate E Candidate B Candidate C Candidate A
Candidate E Candidate C Candidate D Candidate A Candidate B
Ballot papers are printed and collated so that consecutive ballot papers do not show
candidate names in the same order.
Elections that use Robson rotation
Robson rotation is used for Tasmanian House of Assembly, Legislative Council and local
government elections and ACT Legislative Assembly elections.
Legislative Council and local government election ballot papers list all candidates in one
column. The number of candidates at Legislative Council elections since 1991 has varied from 2 to 11. More than 20 candidates have stood in some local government elections.
House of Assembly and ACT Legislative Assembly election ballot papers include a separate
column for each party or group of candidates. Each column has its own set of rotations – a
three-candidate column will have three rotations and a four-candidate column will have four
Where columns on the House of Assembly ballot paper contain different numbers of
candidates, it is necessary to print enough ballot papers versions for a fair distribution within
each column. For example, 12 versions are required for a ballot paper containing three and
four candidate columns