Why the NT seat of Lingiari keeps being mentioned in the VoterID Debate

Opponents of the Morrison government’s VoterID bill, currently being debated by Parliament, have regularly pointed out that some groups of voters will be disadvantaged by the new law if passed.

The argument is that some groups of electors are less likely to have the forms of identification set out in the bill, meaning they will be disproportionally represented amongst those denied access to an ordinary vote.

The group most often mentioned is Indigenous voters, in particular remote Indigenous voters, and the electoral division where this will have the most impact is Lingiari, the sprawling outback Northern Territory seat.

According to the 2016 Census, 40% of the division’s residents are Indigenous. But because remote voters are not included in the national automatic enrolment program, and because of cuts in remote indigenous enrolment programs, indigenous voters make up less than 40% of enrolled electors in Lingiari.

In Lingiari, remote postal services are largely non-existent and the electorate has the nation’s lowest rate of postal voting at 2.9%. As a proportion of electors, this figure is even lower in comparison to other divisions because Lingiari consistently has the nation’s lowest turnout. The turnout in Lingiari at the 2019 election was 72.9% compared to the national figure of 91.9%.

Turnout is low because remote Indigenous voters have little access to election day polling places used by other Australians, and because pre-poll ordinary voting is generally only available in Alice Springs, Katherine, and around Greater Darwin.

Most Indigenous votes are collected by remote mobile polling teams that travel around the electorate visiting communities for as little as one hour on a single day.

One of the key campaign jobs of candidates in Lingiari is making sure communities know when a mobile team is turning up, and making sure community members are around to vote when it arrives. Many miss out.

So Lingiari is central to the debate on voter ID. Remote indigenous electors are already the category of Australians least likely to be enrolled, least likely to have the opportunity to vote, and due to this new law, may become the group least likely to be allowed to cast an ordinary vote.Read More »Why the NT seat of Lingiari keeps being mentioned in the VoterID Debate

NSW Local Government Elections Website

I’ve published a new election website for the ABC.

It’s a site covering the twice delayed NSW Local Government Elections to be held on 4 December. You can find the site it at this link.

I assure you this is not the most riveting election site I’ve published. It’s more public service than news. Given that the NSW Electoral Commission’s website is difficult to navigate, I hope my more simple display of candidates and results will prove useful for voters and political tragics. I hope to add more content on the political composition of councils over the next week and a half.

In the rest of this post I’ll summarise some statistics on the elections and point to one or two oddities produced by the elections.Read More »NSW Local Government Elections Website

John Alexander’s Retirement opens up the contest in Bennelong

The announcement today that Liberal MP for Bennelong John Alexander will retire at the 2022 election prompts an obvious question – will it hurt Liberal prospects in the seat?

It is strange to suggest that a seat with a Liberal margin of 6.9%, that has been won by Labor only once in its 73 years of existence, could be put as risk by Alexander’s resignation.

But that Labor victory in 2007, when Maxine McKew defeated Prime Minister John Howard, lives on as one of the most remarkable moments in Australian election night history.

Mention Bennelong and Labor true believers dream the seat can deliver another magic moment for them.

But how vulnerable is Bennelong? Here’s my mini-guide to the seat.Read More »John Alexander’s Retirement opens up the contest in Bennelong

New Victorian State Electoral Boundaries Finalised

Last week the Victorian Boundaries Commission released its final determination of the state’s new electoral boundaries. The new boundaries will apply for the next Victorian election in November 2022.

The draft boundaries were released at the end of June and I analysed their political impact in a previous post. There were major changes to the boundaries used at the 2018 election.

Of the 88 districts proposed at the draft stage, 56 remain unchanged in the final version.

I’ve prepared a listing showing the composition of all new electorates based on movements between old and new electorate. You can find it at this link.

Maps of all new districts, details of changes, and the Commissioner’s reasoning for the changes can be found on the Electoral Boundaries Commission website.

Political summary in a paragraph – a permanent shift of two seats from Liberal parts of Melbourne to Labor parts as a result of differential population growth rates. But it is not electoral boundaries but the scale of the Liberal Party’s 2018 defeat that is the bigger problem for the Coalition at the 2022 state election.

In this post I’ll analyse the political impact of the final boundaries.
Read More »New Victorian State Electoral Boundaries Finalised

Government Introduces Bill Requiring Voters to show ID to Vote

The Morrison government this morning introduced the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021. (You can find the bill and explanatory notes at this link)

The bill’s provisions will require polling day and pre-poll voters to present some form of identification when they turn up to vote. ID will be checked against details on the electoral roll before ballot papers are issued. Presentation of ID will replace voters being asked for their name and address.

There is no requirement for photo ID. There are numerous permitted documents to prove identity, including driver licences, passports, Medicare cards, proof of age cards, birth certificates, citizenship certificates, credit cards, bank statements, utilities, letters from the Electoral Commission, tax assessments and several documents specific to Indigenous voters.

Voters without ID can also be vouched for if they are voting with a voter who does have identity documents. This provision deals with couples turning up to vote when only one has brought their driver licence.

Voters unable to pass the above tests will still be allowed to vote, but they will be directed to another part of the polling place where they will be issued with ballot papers and a declaration vote envelope.Read More »Government Introduces Bill Requiring Voters to show ID to Vote

Alice Springs Mayor’s Two Vote Victory shows why Scrutineers Matter

While electoral officials will not always admit it, scrutineers play an important role in the transparency of elections.

Scrutineers are appointed by candidates as their representatives in observing the count. Scrutineers have the right to check the administrative paper work for the count, to observe all ballot papers as they are counted, to observe the checking of declaration envelopes, to challenge votes and request disputed ballot papers be tagged for adjudication. And they also play a role in spotting errors by counting staff.

If they represent one of the final candidates in the race, scrutineers perform another informal role on behalf of their candidate. Preferential voting means scrutineers want to closely observe ballot papers cast for lower polling candidates who will be excluded from the count. Scrutineers try to tally the destination preferences from these ballot papers, the flows of preferences to the final two candidates in the contest.

Since Electoral Commissions began to conduct indicative preference counts on election night, preference tallying by scrutineers has become less important. Now there are official counts that help parties know the close contests on election night. With this knowledge, the best scrutineers can be sent to the tightest counts for the post-election check count.

But what if there is no official preference count, and scrutineers don’t attend to do their two-candidate preferred estimates?

Exactly that happened in last month’s contest for Alice Springs Lord Mayor. One candidate was well ahead on first preferences. With no indicative preference count, and with no scrutineers doing their own preference counts, it wasn’t until the distribution of preferences that the leading candidate discovered he had been defeated.Read More »Alice Springs Mayor’s Two Vote Victory shows why Scrutineers Matter

My Analysis of the 2021 Western Australian Election has just been published

For the last three decades I’ve been producing statistical publications on Western Australian elections and redistributions for the WA Parliamentary Library.

My latest in the series, summarising the results of the 2021 WA election in March, has just been published by the Library.

You can find the full series and the 2021 publication at this link.

Most of the publication is tables and statistics. Inside this post I’ve included the publication’s introduction where I set out the statistical highlights (if you are a Labor supporter) or lowlights (for Liberal supporters) from the 2021 results.Read More »My Analysis of the 2021 Western Australian Election has just been published

A Quick Guide to the Monaro By-election

The resignation of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has understandably triggered changes at the highest levels of the NSW government. This includes Deputy Premier John Barilaro announcing his decision to resign as Minister, Nationals Leader and Member for Monaro.

I’ve removed my blog post for the Monaro by-election as it has now been published on the ABC elections page. I’ve left this post here as a stub rather than break links on Google searches.

I also wrote a piece at the time of the resignations for ABC news on what’s happening with the by-elections.Read More »A Quick Guide to the Monaro By-election

A Quick Guide to the Bega By-election

The resignation of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has understandably triggered changes at the highest levels of the NSW government. This includes Transport Minister Andrew Constance announcing that he will resign from state parliament as member for Bega “later this year” to contest pre-selection for the Federal seat of Gilmore.

I’ve removed my blog post for the Bega by-election as it has now been published on the ABC elections page. I’ve left this post here as a stub rather than break links on Google searches.

I also wrote a piece at the time of the resignations for ABC news on what’s happening with the by-elections.Read More »A Quick Guide to the Bega By-election

A Quick Guide to the Willoughby By-election

The resignation of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her intention to resign from parliament means there will soon be a by-election for her safe seat of Willoughby.

I’ve removed my blog post for the Willoughby by-election as it has now been published on the ABC elections page. I’ve left this post here as a stub rather than break links on Google searches.

I also wrote a piece at the time of the resignations for ABC news on what’s happening with the by-elections.Read More »A Quick Guide to the Willoughby By-election