donkey vote

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From donkey (fool) + vote.
The practice may be a protest at the compulsory nature of Australian state and Federal elections, or may indicate apathy or ignorance. The term is partly an assumption of the ignorance theory, and partly a reflection on the fact that the vote is not simply wasted, but has an unplanned and possibly undesirable effect.

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

donkey vote (usually uncountable, plural donkey votes)

  1. (Australia) The act of casting a vote, in an election using a preferential voting system, by specifying the candidates in the order in which they are listed on the ballot paper (i.e., by numbering the choices sequentially from top to bottom, ignoring what they represent); a vote so cast. [From 1962.]
    • 1979, Howard Rae Penniman (editor), The Australian National Elections of 1977, page 325,
      The share of preferences going from the Progress Party to the Democrats was swollen, if not almost wholly accounted for, by donkey votes.
    • 1993, John Craig, Australian Politics: A Source Book, page 178,
      Examination of the 1984 and 1987 federal elections showed the donkey vote to be worth about 0.65% of the formal vote (Peetz 1989:469).
    • 2000, Shaun Bowler, Elections in Australia, Ireland, and Malta Under the Single Transferable Vote, page 56,
      This needs to be tempered somewhat: Voting systems that require electors to express preferences they may not in fact possess are susceptible to random effects such as the so-called donkey-vote phenomenon observed for federal elections in Australia, in which some electors simply number sequentially from 1 onward down the ballot paper.

Related terms[edit]