Queensland Voting System - Optional Preferential Voting

Optional Preferential Voting
Counting the Votes


Optional Preferential Voting

Optional Preferential Voting (OPV) has been used in Queensland State elections since 1992. OPV is a unique voting system giving voters a choice to vote for one candidate, more than one or, all candidates on the ballot paper. Voters can cast a valid vote by either:

• expressing a single primary preference for one candidate only (marking only one square, leaving all the others blank)
• expressing a partial distribution of preferences by voting for some, but not all candidates on the ballot paper (marking some but not all squares)
• expressing a full distribution of preferences (marking each and every square in order of preference). 

back to top

Counting the Votes

Ballot papers are counted in each polling booth after the close of polling at 6.00pm on polling day and included in the election night count.

After polling day the Returning Officer for each electoral district counts all types of votes including absent, postal and pre-poll votes. These are all added to the official count by the Returning Officer.

The counting of the votes is done in stages;

• Firstly ballot papers are sorted into formal and informal votes. Ballot papers without a clear first preference are set aside as informal votes and are not admitted to the count.
• The first preferences for each candidate are then counted. A candidate is declared “elected” if they have an absolute majority of the formal first preference votes (an absolute majority is more than 50 per cent of the formal votes).

If no candidate has an absolute majority the transfer of preferences is done by:

• Eliminating the candidate with the least amount of first preference votes. That candidate’s second preference votes are then distributed amongst the remaining candidates. Ballot papers with no second preference are set aside as “exhausted”.

This process is continued until a candidate has an absolute majority of the votes and that candidate is then declared “elected”.

For more information on the voting system please see our OPV Fact Sheet.

back to top