UPDATE: David Leyonhjelm, the LDP’s winning Senate candidate, said today:

many punters had confused his fledgling party with the Liberals but said he was happy to take their votes.

“I don’t think everybody who voted for us though they were voting for the Liberal Democrats – maybe some thought they were voting for the Democrats, or even the Liberal party,” he said.

“We are not going to kid ourselves that 8.5 per cent of NSW thinks they were voting for the Liberal Democrats.”

It looks like the leading candidate and registered officer of the tiny, “libertarian” Liberal Democratic Party, David Leyonhjelm, has used a behind-the-scenes preference deal, a misleading party name and a very lucky spot on the ballot paper to win a Senate seat from New South Wales (see below for the maths). This is a scandal, and the rules need to be changed so that minor parties can no longer take control of people’s Senate votes.

Why is this a scandal?

First of all, the only reason the Liberal Democratic Party are in a position to do this is that they got about 8.7% of the vote in New South Wales. And the only way they could possibly have got a vote that high is by confusing voters into thinking they were actually the Liberal Party. The Liberal Democrats were in the very first spot on the riduculously-wide NSW Senate ballot paper:

Long Senate ballot paper is long
Photo by stilgherrian, thanks for using a Creative Commons licence.

and it would clearly have been easy for voters to think they were the Liberals. The most obvious evidence for this is to look at the LDP’s votes in other states, as of 11pm on election night:

Victoria: 0.06%
Queensland: 0.64%
WA: 3.21%
SA: 3.5%
TAS: 2.29%

In 2010, the Liberal Democrats got 2.31% of the Senate vote in NSW. There is quite simply no way a 7% swing in favour of a political party would not have been picked up by Australia’s overly-busy polling industry. The only reasonable explanation is that voters were mistaken.

Secondly, Leyonhjelm has already tried to deliberately manipulate the minor-party system to get themselves into office. He is not only the registered officer of the Liberal Democrats, but also holds the same job in a totally different party, the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens). The Smokers’ Rights Party and the Republican Party of Australia also had their preferences controlled by Leyonhjeim, as revealed by Andrew Crook in Crikey on August 22. So we have a candidate for one party controlling the preference deals of *four* different parties. Leyonjhelm was ready to make a deal with the devil to win his seat; three of those four parties made a deal with Pauline Hanson that could have seen her elected. Instead, Leyonhjelm is going to use Hanson’s votes to win.

A political party is supposed to represent a group of people who want to see some change or other in the way we are governed. It’s not meant to be a front group for a Dodgy Brothers operator with an eye for the main chance.

At the moment, the Group Voting Ticket system of Senate voting is a breeding ground for this sort of corruption of democracy. When presented with 110 candidates, most voters will choose to vote “above the line” – that is, just tick ONE box instead of writing in 1-110 next to every single candidate. When they do that, they hand their votes over to unknown backroom-artists like Leyonhjelm: the political party you vote for gets to say where the votes go if they don’t win. This encourages more and more fake parties to set up.

We need to change the rules. There is one simple rule change that could get rid of most of these parasites. All we need to do is say that if you just vote ‘1’ in the Senate for a party, they get to use your vote, but no one else does unless you clearly say so. You would say so by writing a ‘2’ in the box next to your second favourite party, if you want, and so on. If you didn’t write a ‘2’ then your vote would go no-where. This takes the power away from people you’ve never met, and puts it where it belongs, back in your own hands.

If you also think this is a scandal and it needs to stop, please say so here. Let’s raise our voices and get this issue on the agenda of the big parties.

The maths:

HOW are the Liberal Democrats going to win?

When you run for the Senate, you need about 14.7% of the vote to win a seat. When the votes are counted, they look at the percentage each party got and work out how many “quotas” each party got 1 quota is exactly the amount of votes needed to get 1 Senator elected, so in the table below you can see the ALP got 2.23 quotas and the Coalition got 2.41 quotas. This means they will each get 2 Senators elected. There are 6 seats up for grabs, so we need to figure out the last two winners.

ALP 2.23 quotas, 31.9%
Coalition (COA) 2.41 quotas 34.5%
Liberal Democrats (LDP) 0.61 quotas, 8.72%
Greens (GRN) 0.54 quotas, 7.82%
Palmer United Party (PUP) 0.25 quotas, 3.62%
Democratic Labor Party (DLP), 0.10 quotas, 1.51%
Christian Democratic Party (CDP), 0.11 quotas, 1.68%
Shooters and Fishers Party (SFP) 0.09 quotas, 1.30%
One Nation (ONP), 0.08 quotas, 1.19%

The One Nation and Shooters and Fishers Party candidates will get knocked out of the race first, and their votes will got to the CDP. Then the DLP will get knocked out, and their votes will also go to the CDP, leaving ALP, Coalition, LDP, CDP, Green and PUP in the race. The ALP and Palmer United will be the next to drop out; The ALP’s votes go straight to the LDP, and the PUP votes will go to the Coalition.

This will leave four candidates running for two spots. From highest to lowest vote, they will be LDP, Coalition, Greens and CDP. The CDP will drop out, and about 0.3 of a quota will go to the LDP, and that will be enough to elect them. Then the Coalition will win the last seat.

Now these figures are early. I’m writing this on election night, and the exact amounts will change. But, as long as the total LDP vote stays higher than the combined vote of the DLP, CDP, SFP and ONP, I can’t see any way this preference flow is going to change.

The worst union in Australia is the Shoppies. (The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, or the SDA). For years they harvested money from young workers at places like Coles and Hungry Jacks and David Jones, who once forced all their employees to join the union. Funnily enough, those companies never had any trouble with strikes. The bosses of the Shoppies union have never been interested in fighting for their members, in fact recently a pack of ragged-arsed anarchists won a victory for underpaid Dominos pizza delivery drivers that the union refused to even work for. The union bosses are far more interested in using the power of the union to make sure equal marriage never happens.

If you’re voting for the ALP in the Senate in Queensland or Western Australia, then if you don’t take control of your own vote, you’ll be voting for three powerful officials of the SDA, Don Farrell in South Australia, Chris Ketter in Queensland, and Joe Bullock in Western Australia. If you vote ALP in Queensland, SA or WA, and you just vote ‘1’ in the ALP box in the Senate, you will be voting against equal marriage.

So what if you want to vote ALP, but you support equal marriage? How do you do that? Instead of just voting ‘1’ for the ALP, you can take total control over your vote by voting “below the line“. On the Senate voting paper, every single candidate has a box next to their name. Voting below the line means you fill in every single box. In Queensland you’ll have to put a ‘1’ in the box next to the person you like the most, all the way down to ’82’ next to the one you hate the most. In Western Australia it’s a little easier, you only have to number 62 candidates. This can get a bit complex, but there are now plenty of tools to help you work out how to get your vote just right. Have a look at, Cluey Voter and

Here’s an example of what you might do:

You might decide you still support the ALP, even if they keep weird homophobes like Chris Ketter and Joe Bullock in the party. So if you’re in Queensland, you can give your number 1 vote to Claire Moore, your number 2 vote to Mark Furner, and your number 3 vote to Nikki Boyd – they are the three other ALP candidates for the Senate. You might then go right through the ballot paper marking everyone else from 4 to 81, and then save your 82nd vote for Chris Ketter, to send a clear message you support the ALP but you also support equal marriage.

In WA, you’d do the same thing by giving your number 1 vote to Louise Pratt, and your second vote to Peter Foster, going right through the paper from 3 to 61, then giving your 62nd and final vote to Joe Bullock. SA’s a little different again; you should vote ‘1’ for Penny Wong, skip over Don Farrell, ‘2’ for Paul Pisoni, then go through everyone else and give Don Farrell your 73rd vote.

Of course, you might do something different. There are plenty of bad people running for the Senate, and you might decide someone else deserves your very bottom vote. So what I say here is just one way you can vote for the ALP in the Senate but stil support equal marriage. Whichever people you decide to support, the three tools I linked to above will help you sort out who you like, who you hate, and who you don’t care about. And if you REALLY want to take control there’s a tricky way to make sure only the people you really like get a chance to use your vote.

If you’re a member of the SDA, or if you work in the retail or fast food industries and you like the idea of a union that would stand up for you and for equal marriage, you might want to have a look at three groups who want to change the way the SDA operates. SDA Union Transform and Transpose and SDA Members for Same-Sex Marriage are fighting the homophobes from within, and the General Transport Workers Association is pounding on the gates from outside by setting up a rival organisation that actually knows how to fight.

There are two ways to vote for the Senate in Australian elections. One way (“above-the-line”) is simple and quick, but it means the politicians you vote for get to control who gets to use your vote if they don’t win. Why should you hand your power over to them like that? The other way gives you 100% control: it’s called “below the line” voting, but it’s a lot more involved. Here in the state of Queensland, we have 82 people running for the Senate in this Saturday’s election, so if I want to vote “below the line”, I have to fill out every single box next to each candidate’s name, from 1 to 82.

This is complex, so only about 3.8% of people do it across Australia. And it still has disadvantages. Even if I have no strong opinions on more than a few parties, or even if I ONLY want people from a few parties to get in and actively don’t want anyone else to use my vote, I still have to pretend that I like the person who gets my “50” vote more than the one who gets my “82” vote. I’m pretty interested in and engaged with politics, but there’s no way I have an opinion on 82 different people. There’s only ten people I actively want to support in this election, and I reckon groups like Family First and One Nation are just as bad as each other. So are parties like the Sex Party, Animal Justice Party and Senator Online Party, who did grubby deals that give One Nation’s Pauline Hanson a very good chance of winning a seat.

Fortunately, there’s a little trick hidden away in the law about how the votes are counted. The trick is probably meant to make sure people who make honest mistakes filling out the ballot paper still get to have their vote counted. But we can manipulate this trick to make sure that only the people we actually WANT to vote for get to use our vote.


1) Vote for the candidates you actually want to get in. I have ten people I want to support, so I am going to vote 1-10 for them.

2) MAKE A DELIBERATE MISTAKE. The best way (in my case) is to write down the number 11 twice.

3) Then you have to fill in all the rest of the boxes. The order does not matter one bit, so you can just start from the left and go to the right. But you HAVE to fill them all in consecutively. I’m going to start from 13, so that I know the last number I write still has to be 82. You can also write from 12-81, as Dr Cam Sexenheimer pointed out on Twitter this morning.

So, what exactly will this do, and what are the risks?

It means that only the top ten people I voted for will get to use my vote. If none of them get elected, my vote will just drop out and not go to anyone. Because I voted “11” twice, the rules say the vote-counters can’t know who I wanted to “really” vote for. But the other rule they put in to make sure votes with a couple of honest mistakes get counted means my vote gets counted, too.

Yes, but what about the risks?

The first risk is that you make too *many* errors and your vote doesn’t get counted at all. The rule says that IF:

You could correct three (or fewer) of the numbers on your voting paper,

and IF those corrections would mean 90% or more of the numbers were filled out properly

THEN your vote counts.

That means if you made FOURTEEN numbering errors (including your deliberate error), your vote would simply not be counted at all. For instance, if you voted 1,2,3,3,3,3,3,8,9,10… your vote WOULD be counted because changing three of your numbers would mean 90% or more of the boxes were filled out correctly. But if you voted 1,2,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,17,18,19… your vote would NOT be counted because changing three numbers would still leave ten boxes labelled incorrectly, and 10 out of 82 means you’ve only filled in 88% of the boxes correctly.

Yes, that’s a little complex. So if you’re going to take advantage of this hack, make sure you only make ONE error, the deliberate error. Because if you vote this way, and if the race is tight when your vote gets counted, there will be angry, smart politicians who know the rules backwards arguing VERY LOUDLY INDEED about whether your vote is valid or not. So why give those major-party-mongrels the pleasure of throwing your vote out?

There’s also a deeper risk I should mention. When you run for the Senate, you normally have to get about 14% of the vote to win. If none of the people you vote for wins a seat, your vote drops out of the count completely. That means the 14% someone needs to win gets a tiny bit smaller. If, say, 100,000 people were to vote this way in Queensland, and all their votes dropped out, that means the candidates still in the race would need about 14,000 fewer votes to win a seat. It’s practically impossible to predict beforehand how this sort of thing is going to play out at an election, with complex interlocking preference deals between dozens of different parties, but it could possibly lead to weird results you don’t want.

So, think about those risks before you do this. I’m prepared to risk it myself, so I am definitely going to vote this way. It’s not a huge thing really, but it’s good to be able to assert control over my life in small ways, and large ones too.

NOTE: Amusingly enough, I got turned onto this trick by the loathsome @Karwalksi of the Wikileaks Party, who thinks exposing their website’s visitors to US Government spying is cool and edgy.

NOTE: Similar info to this was published over a week ago on the Indpendent Australia website. However there are errors in that post, including the idea that the revolutionary communist activist formerly known as Albert Langer (who now chooses to be known as Arthur Dent, NOT “Albert Langer”) “discovered” this loophole.


1) Tweets from the Australian Electoral Commission this morning:

2) The official guidelines the Electoral Commission use to decide if a vote gets counted or not

3) Section 270 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

The Wikileaks Party in Australia is officially on the ballot in elections due to be held by November 30 this year. Wikileaks’ founder and its most famous personality, Julian Assange, will run for the Senate in the state of Victoria. On Thursday July 25 2013 they announced their slate of candidates, only to immediately suffer a DDOS attack for which US hacker @th3j35t3r claimed responsibility.

On July 26 the Wikileaks Party website was still down. An error message was provided by Cloudflare , a company which assists websites in surviving attacks by monitoring their traffic, detecting hostile activity and blocking that activity before it stops the original website working:

Wikileaks Party using Cloudflare

Cloudflare is already credited with protecting the main Wikileaks website from a DDOS attack in August last year. However, Cloudflare has a more sinister side, one that should give anyone connected with Wikileaks second thoughts about trusting any private information to it, and that knowledge has been public since 2011 thanks to Yasha Levine writing in The Exiled. Cloudflare founder Matthew Prince has a long history of working directly with US law enforcement, since he managed the anti-spam Project Honey Pot in 2003:

“Mr. Prince has…focused effort on providing enforcement officials with the necessary information and tools to prosecute violators of the federal CAN-SPAM Act and other anti-spam laws. To that end, Mr. Prince managed the development of Project Honey Pot, an Unspam community-service project that consists of a distributed system of decoy e-mail addresses that website administrators can include on their sites in order to gather information about the robots and spiders that spammers use”

So Prince happily says he has already started one company to work directly with US Federal law enforcement. His current project, Cloudflare is potentially even closer to the national security apparatus:

“We ran [Project Honey Pot] as a hobby and didn’t think much about it until, in 2008, the Department of Homeland Security called and said, “Do you have any idea how valuable the data you have is?” That started us thinking about how we could effectively deploy the data from Project Honey Pot, as well as other sources, in order to protect websites online. That turned into the initial impetus for CloudFlare”.

So, while the Wikileaks Party says it will be “fearless in its opposition to the creeping surveillance state, driven by globalised data collection and spying agencies”, and says it supports protection for whistleblowers, the Party is funnelling all traffic to its website through computers belonging to a company with close and friendly links to that very same surveillance state. This could give the US government very easy access to the IP address of all visitors to the Wikileaks Party website. How could this hurt Wikileaks supporters?

Well for example, one day Wikileaks may well release official Australian information that is embarrassing to the the US government. If the US Government had already issued a National Security Letter to Cloudflare telling it to retain details of which IP addresses visited the Wikileaks Party site, they could look at those records and see if anyone had visited the Wikileaks Party website from a government computer, or if an unusual or new pattern of visits had been logged in the time before the leak. If anything looked promising, for instance if many visits were logged from an Internet cafe that had never accessed the website before, that may well narrow the search for the leaker down a lot. Comparing records of visitors to both the Wikileaks’ Party website and the main Wikileaks website could make it yet easier to track down a would-be-anonymous leaker. These sort of techniques are how General David Petraeus’ lover was tracked down last year after she sent threatening emails from anonymous addresses connected to hotel Wi-Fi networks last year.

If we take Cloudflare’s assurances at face value, however, we have nothing to worry about. They tell us “If the NSA is listening in on any transactions traversing our network, they are not doing so with our blessing, consent, or knowledge“, and in the same post on the company blog they go into some detail about how SSL is used to encrypt traffic on Cloudflare, and why they think it is unlikely that the NSA is able to break Cloudflare’s 2048-bit encryption. Which is a lovely story to tell children at bedtime, but utterly irrelevant to your online privacy. What SSL does is encrypts your messages. So if you sent me an email saying “Let’s go to the pub tonight”, and I sent you an email back saying “Great!”, then an online snooper wouldn’t be able to read the contents of our messages. But what they could know is that you had sent me a short email, and that I had sent you a short email in reply. If that snooper already knew that the two of us often go to the pub, and that we usually arrange our drinking by email, it’s pretty easy to work out, without breaking any encryption, where she could snoop on us that evening. This is described in much more detail in a paper by Shuo Chen, Rui Wang, Xiao Feng Wang and Kehuan Zhang (pdf file):

“Specifically, we found that surprisingly detailed sensitive information is being leaked out from a number of high-profile, top-of-the-line web applications in healthcare, taxation, investment and web search: an eavesdropper can infer the illnesses/medications/surgeries of the user, her family income and investment secrets, despite HTTPS protection; a stranger on the street can glean enterprise employees’ web search queries, despite WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption”.

So the NSA may not be “listening in”. But they don’t have to listen in, as such, to find out a lot about you.

What has Cloudflare already provided the US government? We can get some idea by looking at another part of that Cloudflare blog post:

“To date, CloudFlare has never received an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court…As a policy, we challenge any orders that have not been reviewed and approved by a court. As part of these challenges, we always request the right to disclose at least the fact that we received such an order but we are not always granted that request…CloudFlare fully supports the calls for transparency today by other web companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. At a minimum, we request the law be updated to allow companies to disclose the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters (NSLs) they have received”.

So Cloudflare mentions orders from the secret FISA court, and National Security Letters. They deny that they’ve ever received FISA orders, but don’t deny receiving any National Security Letters. So we can infer that they have received NSLs, and that they have complied with them. In their security policy they say:

“It is possible that CloudFlare may be required by court order to provide information about our customers. CloudFlare may also be required to provide information pursuant to law, applicable regulation, subpoena or other legal process”.

Which once again implies that while they may challenge orders that are not issued by a court, in the end they are willing to comply with US Government orders for information.

When I asked the Wikileaks Party on Twitter why they were using Cloudflare, I was answered by their Chief Technology Officer who apparently chooses to be known online only as @karwalski. Karwalski said that Cloudflare was keeping the site online despite the attack. When I asked why Wikileaks was funnelling information through servers of an organisation closely linked to the national security state, karwalksi asked if I had an alternative suggestion. I responded that it wasn’t my job to help Wikileaks do it’s job of protecting the privacy of visitors to its site (19), and was told:

“Ok, you had better not ever be a passenger or driver of a car, they are dangerous. Cool logic dude“.

So that’s what the Wikileaks Party in Australia thinks of your privacy. If you’re ever thinking of leaking anything to anyone, don’t let it be to Wikileaks – you can’t trust them with your online security.



After a week of me calling out the Wikileaks Party by name on Twitter about the privacy risks with their website, Assange’s running-mate in Victoria, Leslie Cannold, finally decided to respond tonight (Monday August 12 2013), when Twitter user @BenHarkin asked her about it:

It’s not my area of control or expertise. If tone were different I would have referred it. But rude irks me. @benharkin @djackmanson

So, there’s some handy information. If you want to hold the Wikileaks Party accountable for anything bad they might be doing, remember that you have to ask nicely, or they don’t have to worry about it.


Cannold thinks my rude, aggressive, presumptious tone should insulate the WikiLeaks Party from answering questions about the security risk its website poses to visitors:

U r outrageously rude & entitled. I wouldn’t dream of following yr barked orders in real life & won’t online. @djackmanson @benharkin

I thought Wikileaks was all about aggressive journalists demanding answers and accountability from the powerful?