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Hare–Clark electoral system

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A Hare-Clark ballot paper for the electorate of Brindabella in the 2016 Australian Capital Territory general election

Hare-Clark is a type of single transferable vote electoral system of proportional representation used for elections in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The method for the distribution of preferences is similar to other voting systems in Australia, such as for the Australian Senate.

The name is derived from the names of English barrister Thomas Hare, the original inventor of single transferable voting, and Attorney-General of Tasmania Andrew Inglis Clark, who introduced a modified form to Tasmania in 1896.


Thomas Hare (1806–91) is generally credited with the conception of the single transferable vote, while Andrew Inglis Clark (1848–1907) introduced the system to Tasmania with a modified counting method.

"The specific modification introduced by Mr. A.I. Clark, Attorney-General for Tasmania, is the provision devised by him for eliminating the element of chance in the selection and distribution of quota-excesses or surplus transfer votes."[1] The provision described as "Clark's own" was the weighting-method (later also adopted in Ireland and Malta), to transfer all votes to 'next order of preference' (the next usable marked preference), rather than a random sample.[2]

In 1896, after several failed attempts, Clark was successful in getting a system of proportional representation adopted by the Tasmanian Parliament, but it was accepted only on a trial basis in the two main cities, Hobart (to elect 6 MPs) and Launceston (to elect 4 MPs). This first 'Hare-Clark system', as it was immediately known, was renewed annually until suspended in 1902. Clark, never in robust health, died at his home 'Rosebank' in Battery Point on 14 November 1907, just as the adoption of permanent proportional representation struggled through Parliament and over a year before it was used for the first time throughout Tasmania at the general election in April 1909.[2]

Hare-Clark has been used continuously for Tasmanian state elections since 1909[3] for the House of Assembly. The Legislative Council[4] is elected by the same system as is used to elect members of the Australian House of Representatives.[4] The Hare-Clark System was adopted to be used for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly in 1992.[5][6]


Features of Hare-Clark have evolved over time. Until 1942, candidates were listed in alphabetic order rather than grouped together by party.[3] Robson Rotation, where the order candidates appeared on ballot papers is randomised, was introduced in 1980. This has the effect of reducing any advantage a candidate has by appearing at the top of a party list,[7] so as to eliminate any influence of donkey votes.


After a candidate reaches a quota and is elected, all of their ballot papers are redistributed to elect additional candidates based on the voters' next preferences indicated on each ballot paper. The redistributed votes have a reduced transfer value, which is determined by the relationship of the number of surplus votes received by the previously elected candidate compared to the total votes he or she holds.

In cases where no candidates are initially elected, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their preferences are distributed at full value. Ballot papers with non-transferable votes are set aside during this process.

The process of conducting the vote count in Hare-Clark and Australian Senate style systems is largely similar, with only minor differences. Prior to the 2016 Australian federal election,[8] group voting tickets were used for Senate elections. This allowed parties to determine the order in which preferences would be distributed to other candidates. This option for voters to have their preferences determined by group voting tickets is still in use in Victoria. In contrast, under Hare-Clark, preferences are always explicitly determined by individual voters, and there is no "above the line" voting option.

The distribution of how-to-vote cards outside polling places on election day is prohibited in Hare-Clark elections.[3]

Counting method with example[edit]

1. Initial count

Any invalid votes are excluded (e.g. no boxes marked) and then the first preferences from each ballot paper is tallied.

They are allocated to marked candidate.


Of the total 10,500 votes cast by the electorate, 500 are invalid.
There are 10,000 valid votes remaining.

Each candidate's total is announced.

2. Determining the quota

The total count of valid votes is used to calculate the quota of votes required for a candidate to be declared elected (the Droop quota).


There are 10,000 valid votes and 3 vacancies to be filled.

quota to be elected(x)=1000/(3+1)
x = 2500

The quota to be elected is 2500 votes.

3. Declaring candidates elected

Candidates who have more than the required quota of votes are declared elected. If there are still vacancies remaining, any surplus votes are distributed as outlined in 4 below.

The count is complete if there are no remaining vacancies.


Candidate PLATYPUS receives 3,000 first preference votes, and is more than the quota of 2,500.
Candidate PLATYPUS is declared elected.

4. Candidates with surplus votes

The number of votes in excess of the quota is a surplus of votes. The number of surplus votes is used to determine the transfer value of distributed preferences from the candidate.
4a. The transfer value is determined


Candidate PLATYPUS has 3,000 first preference votes, which is a 499 surplus above the quota.

Transfer value(x)=(499/3000)

The transfer value from PLATYPUS is 0.17.

4b. Distribution of preferences
The preferences from the elected candidate is tallied using all of their ballot papers, and is distributed at the rate of the transfer value.


Of the 3,000 first preference votes for Candidate PLATYPUS, 1,000 had Candidate WOMBAT as second preference. WOMBAT receives these votes but at the value of the transfer rate.

Candidate WOMBAT has 170 added to their total. To put it another way - the proportion of PLATYPUS voters who second preferenced WOMBAT multiplied by PLATYPUS' surplus votes equals the number of votes that are added to WOMBAT's old votes.

4c. Counting the new totals
The new candidate totals are counted (return to 3).

Any candidate exceeding quota through these transfers is declared elect and those surplus votes transferred as well.

when all surpluses have been transferred and if there are still vacancies remaining, the count proceeds to 5.

The count is complete if there are no remaining vacancies.

5. Remaining candidates have not reached the quota

When there are still vacancies, but all the remaining candidates are equal to or less than the quota, the candidate with the lowest current vote is excluded. The preferences of the excluded candidate is then distributed (based on next usable marked preference), at full value, and new candidate totals are counted (return to 3).

The count is complete if the number of candidates remaining is the same as remaining vacancies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnston, R. M. (1897). Observations on the working results of the Hare System of Election in Tasmania.(p.13)
  2. ^ a b "Founders of our Electoral System". Parliament of Tasmania. 2005. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  3. ^ a b c Green, Antony (2 February 2006). "Hare-Clark Explained". abc.net.au. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Legislative Council 2013 Annual Review" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  5. ^ "The Hare-Clark System of Proportional Representation". prsa.org.au. Proportional Representation Society of Australia. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Andrew Inglis Clark (1848–1907)". Clark, Andrew Inglis (1848 -1907). Australian Dictionary of Biography. 1969. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
  7. ^ Green, Antony (3 July 2008). "Review of Robson Rotation in Tasmania". abc.net.au. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 18 July 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  8. ^ Borrello, Eliza (18 March 2016). "Electoral laws passed after marathon Parliament sitting". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 16 October 2016.

Further reading[edit]

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