The groups or “tickets” running in the Dubbo Regional Council election seem to be like an arms race. Noone seems particularly keen on them but a lot of candidates have decided they are a necessary evil.
It appears a decision by Country Labor to have a group in East ward may have triggered the formation of several other groups in the final days of nominations being open.
Mr Shields said early in the election he saw no advantage to having groups within wards because the percentage of votes needed to drag a second candidate across the line made it almost impossible to succeed.
However, he ended up with groups in four out of five wards.
John Ryan was another who was reluctant but felt he would have been at a disadvantage if he wasn’t in a group and others were.
Mr Shields is correct. It would be almost impossible for a group to have both candidates selected when there are only two in a ward.
It is a very different to the situation when a total of 11 candidates were selected at the previous Dubbo City Council election and it was possible to get a second candidate on a ticket, as Mr Shields did with Greg Mohr.
Tickets appear to still be heavily in favour in local government elections with several in the Orange City Council election, including tickets endorsed by the Greens and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
But, the success or failure of groups in Dubbo may come down to how easily voters find it to understand the ward system and the ballot paper they receive on the day.
When ballot papers become complex and there are huge numbers of candidates, such as for the upper house at state and federal elections, a single vote above the line seems like an easy option.
For DRC voters at the September 9 election, they only have to vote for one person, regardless of whether they vote above or below the line.
They also have the option of marking more preferences, but one is the minimum.
It remains to be seen whether those who opted not to have a ticket will be penalised. Past elections show it is definitely possible to be elected even if you stand alone.
All four candidates for Dubbo City at the 2012 election who were not in a group, Mathew Dickerson, John Walkom, Allan Smith and Kevin Parker, became councillors.
The groups obviously hope the teamwork will continue on council and give them the chance to form voting blocs. Time will tell.