First past the post

First past the post vote counting is no longer used in South Australian parliamentary elections. It is commonly used in other countries such as the United Kingdom and United States of America. First past the post voting is the simplest method of voting and easiest to understand.

It basically means that the person or party with the most votes wins.

Why not?

First past the post is an easy system to use, however it does not mean it is the best system for South Australia.

The simple answer is that it is not always fair. The following example explains why.

In an election:

  • Group A wins 35% of the vote
  • Group B wins 30% of the vote
  • Group C wins 23% of the vote
  • Group D wins 12% of the vote

Using first past the post, Group A wins 100% of the power but only received 35% of the vote. That means that 65% of the electorate is represented by a candidate they did not vote for. This is why first past the post vote counting is not always fair.

South Australia decided to use a different counting method to make sure that elections were more representative. That is why we use full preferential vote counting for the House of Assembly and proportional representation for the Legislative Council.

For an animated presentation see how your vote counts External link (requires Flash Player External link). 

Publications

  • Download document Three levels of government in SA
  • Download document Brochure: Three levels of government
  • Download document Brochure: Voting
  • Download document Vote counting methods
More Documents