How Unfair is WA's Electoral Legislation? Assessing 'One Vote One Value'

46 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2007


The Western Australian Government is currently endeavouring to amend the legislation governing the distribution of voters to electoral districts in WA in order to alleviate a disparity which exists between the numbers of voters in rural and urban districts. This paper examines the differences in power between voters in urban and rural districts, under a number of scenarios designed to approximate the realpolitik of the Western Australian Parliament, utilising the power indices of Shapley and Shubik (1954), and Banzhaf (1965). It finds that the operation of political parties can substantially alter the distribution of power established in legislation, to the point that inequalities in the numbers of electors per electoral district inherent in the current electoral law are obviated. This suggests that institutional and legislative attempts to skew the distribution of power towards one group are unlikely to be effective in a real political environment, and calls into question the relevance of such measures. The paper also provides illustrations of a number of phenomena and paradoxes of power in WA, suggesting numerous avenues for further research.

Keywords: Voting Power, Australia

JEL Classification: C70

Suggested Citation

Wills-Johnson, Nick, How Unfair is WA's Electoral Legislation? Assessing 'One Vote One Value'. Available at SSRN: or

Nick Wills-Johnson (Contact Author)

DBP ( email )

PO Box Z5267
St Georges Terrace
Perth, 6831

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