eli5: What is Branch Stacking?


I am trying to understand what Branch Stacking is in Australian politics (and likely other similar systems).

I’d like to know why its not allowed, what it does and how it works.


In: 1

If we take the Australian Labor Party as an example, the ALP is the parent organisation of the political party. Each state or territory operates an independent branch of the ALP, such as the Australia Labor Party (Victorian Branch) aka Victorian Labor operating in Victoria.

Just about any eligible voter can [become a member of an ALP branch](https://viclabor.com.au/membership/join/), membership requires registration fees.

Any political party needs to decide which candidates will run for which seats in each electorate. In ALP the branch members vote for the candidate in a process called pre-selection.

Branch stacking is when members of the party try to recruit other members to join with the intended goal being to influence these pre-selections.

One way to do that is to pay for their membership fees. ALP has rules that forbid that. But it can be hard to detect/prove if eg. you have recruiters slipping new members cash under the table to effectively pay for their pre-selection votes.

Branch stacking isn’t illegal as long as you aren’t submitting false membership data to the electoral commission, but it can be against the rules of the political party. The reason being that it undermines the democracy of the party, giving undue control over the candidacy to those with existing power/money within the party.

Also worth checking [this ABC article](https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-15/branch-stacking-definition-australian-politics-is-it-illegal/12354790) on the topic.