A Jewish lawmaker in Australia is under fire for changing his sample ballot cards in deference to the large Orthodox Jewish community in his electorate.
Michael Danby, a junior minister in the Labor government, placed the Sex Party last in sample ballot cards he sent to Orthodox Jewish voters in his Melbourne electorate ahead of the Sept. 7 election.
The rest of his electorate was advised to put the ultra-conservative Family First Party in last place on their ballot. Australia’s preferential voting system favors the two major parties because votes from failed candidates are re-allocated to more successful candidates.
Polls predict the Labor Party will lose to the opposition Liberal Party. But Danby, who holds his seat in Melbourne Ports by a 7.9 percent margin, is likely to remain in Parliament.
Orthodox Jews have started pre-polling because all Australian elections are held on Saturdays.
Danby defended his actions, telling Fairfax Media that his cards were “only suggestions.”
In Australia’s two-party preferred voting system, voters need to assign a number to every party for their vote to be valid.
“We do not want people to waste their vote,” Danby said.
But Yaron Gottlieb, a columnist writing on the Jewish website Galus Australis, was nonplussed. He wrote: “It seems Danby believes that people who care about the Jewish community are more likely to be sympathetic to Danby if his second preference is a homophobic, ultra-conservative party that doesn’t believe in human induced global warming and wants to take indigenous affairs back to the 1960s. What does this say about Danby’s view of us?”
This story "Nod to Orthodox as 'Sex Party' Downgraded by Australian Candidate" was written by JTA.