The UK’s first past the post (FPTP) voting system has several key problems. It can be ‘dangerous’ to vote for your most favoured candidate you since by doing so you may hand victory to a candidate you really don’t like. For example, in the UK if you vote for a UKIP candidate, your vote might let a Labour candidate win whilst you’d rather be represented by a Conservative. With preference voting, as used to elect Victoria’s lower house, you could vote UKIP:1, Con:2, your vote going to a candidate you can live with, if not the one you prefer. Informed voters understand this and so may change the way they vote (tactical voting), thus the number of votes cast for each party is not necessarily a true reflection of popular opinion. FPTP may mean that a third or less of those voting voted for the successful candidate.
FPTP vote counting is quick and easy. In UK each constituency’s count is done in one place behind locked doors. After a few hours (in most cases) a moment of theatre follows where the Returning Officer and candidates mount the stage to hear “I, John Smith, being the Returning Officer for xxxx do hereby declare that the number of votes cast for each candidate was ….”, speeches from the victor and other candidates following.
Here interim results are released as the count progresses, from which TV pundits predict the result. At some point Antony Green, the ABC’s election guru, will often ‘call’ a seat/the election for a particular candidate/party even though many votes remain uncounted. Unlike UK, postal votes only need to be posted by the close of poll and will be counted if received with six days, so in a few closely contested seats it took more than a week for the result to be finalised.