Explained: What are preferences and why do they matter
WITH the Queensland election campaign in full swing, you have probably been hearing and seeing a lot about preferences and how-to-vote cards.
While you may have learned a little bit about Australia's preferential voting system in school, it is easy for the everyday person to get confused about the whole process.
This election is one of the most important in recent history, so it is important your vote matters.
To make things easier, the Daily Mercury has put together a handy guide explaining everything you need to know about the voting system.
What does preferential voting mean?
In the Queensland election, you must number all boxes in order of your preference - this system of voting is called full preferential voting.
FPV means numbering every box on the ballot paper in your preferred order.
Why do you need to number every box?
Your vote can only be counted if you number every box.
If a ballot paper isn't completed correctly, it's called an informal vote, which does not contribute to the election result.
Election officials count first preferences by looking for the number one (1) next to a candidate's name and allocating the vote to that person.
Next, the person with the lowest number of first preference votes is eliminated from the count and their second preferences are allocated to the remaining candidates.
Then, the next person with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and their preferences are distributed.
This process of elimination continues until just two candidates remain and one has the majority of votes.
The successful candidate is declared once the result is clear.
Then what are how-to-vote cards?
How-to-vote cards are commonly used by political parties and candidates as a recommendation to voters.
However, voters do not need to follow this and can number boxes on their ballot paper according to their own personal preferences.
Voters can also choose to follow the how-to-vote card offered by the candidate they support.
For example, on a ballot paper with five candidates, you can put a number 1 on the box next to the name of the candidate you support the most, continuing this process until you reach the number 5, which would indicate the candidate you support the least.
What impact will preferences have on the upcoming election?
University of Queensland political expert Chris Salisbury said in past elections, the majority of preferences from minor parties such as One Nation, Katter's Australia Party and United Australia Party have flowed to the LNP.
"In seats where you have got seven, eight or nine candidates, that is going to make the race to the finish for the top two hard to pick and that's where the order of preferences will determine the successful candidate," Dr Salisbury said.