Federal Election 2016: How do we decide which Senators are in for three years and which are in for six?

We're still waiting for the final count in the Senate after Saturday's election.

Under the usual circumstances only half the Senate is up for election in each three-year cycle.

But, in the weekend's double dissolution election, all Senators were up for a vote.

Not sure how we get back to half the Senate being up for election in three years time?

This is how.

How will the new terms be decided?

A normal Senate stint lasts for six years.

The only exception to the rule is in the territories, the two Senators representing the ACT, and the pair representing the NT are up for re-election every three years regardless.

So, 36 Senators will get a three-year term and 36 Senators will get a six-year term.

For a normal election Senators need to achieve a "quota" of one-seventh of the overall vote or 14.29 per cent.

For a double dissolution election the "quota" that needs to be reached is much lower, one thirteenth of the share or 7.69 per cent.

There are two ways this could be settled

The Countback Method or the Order-elected Method.

The Australian Financial Review has reported the Coalition and the Labor Party plan to team up to try and protect their own Senators and ensure the minor parties face shorter terms.

There are two groups that should be worried here: those Senators who achieved between 7.69 per cent and 14.29 per cent of their state's vote.

They'll face off against the Senators who belong to a party with more than 14.29 per cent of the vote but were lower down their ticket order.

The Attorney-General George Brandis noted:

"There are various Constitutional precedents that will have to be studied and whatever is the fairest way of dividing the Senate between short term and long term Senators, I'm sure, is what will occur."

The Countback Method

In 1984 the Electoral Act was changed to outline the "countback method" for sorting the Senators' terms in a Double Dissolution.

The law says the AEC has to recount the vote but it does not say Senators have to use the countback method.

To divvy up the short and long-term positions, the votes have to be recounted as if a normal election had been held.

Every Senator who manages to achieve 14.29 per cent of their state's vote gets a six-year term (the quota needed for a regular election).

Everyone else keeps their job for three years.

Senators who got more than 7.69 per cent but less than 14.29 per cent would get three-year terms.

On today's count that means those who face a three-year term include:

Derryn Hinch

Pauline Hanson

Jacqui Lambie

Five Greens Senators

This favours the major parties and Derryn Hinch is looking at taking it to the High Court:

"My argument would be and we may end up in the High Court over this, my argument would be I should be the fourth Senator in the top six who should stay for six years because at the moment the Justice Party is running behind the Libs, behind Labor and just over half of the vote the Greens got. So, I think we're sitting at the fourth number of primary votes, I should be the one that stays for six years," he said.

The Order-Elected Method

Despite the 1984 legal changes, in every Double-Dissolution Election Senators have opted for the Order-Elected Method.

Twelve senators are elected in each state

The six longer term seats are given to the first six to make it past the 7.69 per cent quota.

The method gives more power to first preference votes, so the minor parties are the most likely to benefit.

For example, if this method is followed in Tasmania, this is how it would look.

Labor and Liberal Senators would get two of the longer term spots. The Greens and Jacqui Lambie would get one a piece.

If it isn't followed, the Labor and Liberal Party would take all six long term spots.

Source: ABC News

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