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Election sign row triggers teal push to make preferential voting compulsory in NSW

Guardian 22Mar2023

Independent Jacqui Scruby accuses Liberals of attempting to ‘deceive’ voters after signs that say ‘you can just vote one’ appear in contested seat.

A key New South Wales ‘teal’ independent, Jacqui Scruby, will seek to make preferential voting compulsory if she enters parliament after the Liberal party encouraged voters not to number every box at Saturday’s state election.


The Pittwater candidate accused the Liberal party of attempting to “deceive voters” with “you can just vote one” signs popping up across the blue-ribbon electorate, which is being contested by the Rory Amon for the Liberal party after the resignation of the former frontbencher Rob Stokes.

“We need to have a serious conversation about making NSW’s preferential voting compulsory to bring it in line with pretty much the rest of the country,” Scruby said.

A Liberal party spokesperson said: “NSW elections are conducted under optional preferential voting, and people can just vote one.”

Scruby said optional preferential voting – where voters are only required to number one box on the lower house ticket – meant communities could end up with an MP the majority did not want.

“It could shape the result in several teal seats,” she said, arguing the state needed to be brought in line with the rest of the country.

Joeline Hackman, an independent candidate for Manly, said optional preferential voting led to confusion because it operated differently to the federal election and wanted to see it reviewed following the election.

Senior opposition figures, including Rose Jackson, who is on Labor’s shadow cabinet, have also been encouraging voters who want to see a change in government and are voting for a minor party to preference Labor next.

The teal candidates’ most high-profile backer, Climate 200, has been using Australian band Lime Cordiale to explain to young voters they risked “throwing your vote in the bin” if they did not exhaust preferences through TikTok and Instagram videos.

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