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Thursday, 13 September 1928

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) . - I agree with the proposal that we should not make a vote informal simply because an elector places the figure 1 opposite his preference. As a matter of fact, I have always held that view in regard to the Electoral Act generally. If there are only two candidates, the placing of a X opposite the elector's choice should be regarded as a valid vote.

Mr Hill - It is so regarded now.

Mr SCULLIN - Such a provision was inserted when the last amendments were made' to the Electoral Act. Why should we not amend the Referendum Act so as to make it conform exactly with the Electoral Act? As things are, the elector is likely to become confused. This year we shall have a referendum simultaneously with an election, and two sets of ballotpapers will be issued. On one paper the elector will be instructed to indicate his choice by means of figures, and on the other he will be told to use a X. There will also be the Senate ballot-papers, which stipulate that voting must be done by placing figures in the squares. These different instructions will surely lead to confusion, and there is no need for it. The Attorney-General said that if the electors were required to put a 1 opposite " Yes ", and a 2 opposite " No ", some of them might think that they were giving two votes to " No ". Would that not apply, too, when the electors were voting for parliamentary candidates, and were told to put 1 opposite their first preference, and 2 opposite their second preference ?

Mr Latham - It is an old trouble.

Mr SCULLIN - I think that the act still insists upon the placing of 1 and 2 in the squares, even if there are only two candidates. I strongly urge that we should not send out two separate instructions during the one election campaign.

Mr Latham - There will be only one instruction on the ballot-paper: Electors will be instructed to vote by means of a X.

Mr SCULLIN - -No doubt this may have the effect of reducing the number of informal votes for the referendum, but it will double the number of such votes for the general elections, especially if there are more than two candidates. It will also have the effect of increasing the number of informal votes for the Senate elections. I admit that a variety of methods have been used both in State and municipal elections, but we in the past have tried to get into the minds of federal electors that they should vote by means of figures. As things are, there is a possibility of the electors being confused through their receiving two different instructions from platform speakers. Electors should be instructed to vote by means of figures, but there should be a provision that the use of a X would not make the votes informal.

Queston resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Informal ballot-papers).

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