Robson Rotation

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Robson Rotation is the method of printing multiple ballots for single transferable vote elections, with each having the candidates listed in a different order.

Ordinarily all ballot papers in an election are printed the same, with the candidates' names in a set order. The order can be determined by lot, by alphabetical order or if two or more candidates "consent" to be grouped as a team, the grouping or party may specify the order of their names. However, this can give an advantage to the candidates listed highest on the ballot paper, because they will attract a 'donkey vote'.

Donkey voters are common in systems with compulsory voting where voters turn up to vote on election date to avoid a fine and number their ballot papers in the order of candidates on the ballot paper.

Using the Robson Rotation the number of distinct permutations of candidates names used on the ballot papers is increased, and eliminates any advantage given to a candidate by donkey voters. To achieve this, a number of designs of ballot paper are printed, and amounts of each design are randomly distributed. This system was first introduced in Tasmania in 1979 by Neil Robson, a Liberal MHA for Bass. It was first used in practice in the 1980 by-election for the seat of Denison.

It was subsequently adopted in the Australian Capital Territory in 1995.

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