2021 WA Election – Tracking the Early Vote

Final pre-poll and postal vote details have now been published ahead of the WA election on 13 March. The number of early votes already in the hands of the WA Electoral Commission have passed three-quarters of a million, 755,075 or 44% of enrolled voters.

The final figures at end of voting on Friday 12 March are

  • 585,774 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 34.1% of enrolled voters. This is more than two and a half as many pre-polls as were taken in total at the 2017 election. 86.548 were taken on Friday, the usual pattern where the highest number of pre-polls is taken on the final day.
  • 331,078 postal vote applications were received up till close of applications on 10 March representing 19.3% of enrolled voters.
  • 169,301 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 9.9% of enrolled voters or 51.1% of postal vote applications.


By comparison, at the 2017 Western Australia election, the rates of pre-poll and postal votes were –

  • A total of 222,218 pre-poll votes were recorded at the 2017 election representing 16.1% of all votes or 13.7% of enrolled voters.
  • A total of 116,729 postal votes made it into the count representing 8.4% of the total vote or 7.3% of enrolled voters.
  • No figures are available for the number postal vote applications in 2017.

In February I published a post on votes by type at past Western Australian elections, including information on postal and pre-poll voting rates, at Western Australian elections since 1986. The post also includes information on party vote share by vote type.

Pre-poll voting rates have been on the rise for the past decade in all Australian jurisdictions. The rates increased greatly in 2020 as early voting was encouraged as part of the response to Covid-19. Last year I tracked the surge in pre-poll and postal votes in a blog post on last October’s Queensland election.

The graph below shows the number of pre-poll votes (in green) taken each day since the start of pre-poll voting for the WA election on 24 February. The figure in orange is the number of postal votes returned each day. The figures for the first two days are combined, and there was no pre-poll voting on the long weekend 27 February to 1 March. There were no Postal votes added to the totals on Saturday 6 March.

The graph below shows the accumulated pre-poll votes by day as a percentage of enrolled voters. The accumulated postal votes returned as a a percentage of enrolment is also shown.

By comparison, the rate of pre-poll voting in WA lags the rate at last October’s Queensland election. Pre-polls as a percentage of enrolled voters in Queensland was 38.2% compared to 34.1% in WA. Queensland had only two weeks of pre-poll voting where there were an extra two days in WA.

The rate of postal voting is also lower than in Queensland. Queensland’s pre-poll application period opened earlier, but also closed earlier, two weeks before election day. In total 26.8% of Queensland voters were sent postal vote packs, while in Western Australia we have seen applications received by the WAEC represent 19.3% of enrolled voters. Sieving out of duplicates will cut these numbers by the time postal vote packs are sent. Applications for postal votes closed on Wednesday 10 March.

Not all postal votes are used and returned, and not all returned postal votes end up being counted. Turnout at Western Australian elections, that is votes cast, is usually at around 85-88% of enrolment.

The high rates of early voting will not prevent the election result being known on election night. Almost all pre-polls and most returned postal votes will be counted on election night, but only for the lower house. Legislative Council pre-poll and postal vote counting will begin on the Sunday after the election.

I will continue to update this post through the campaign, and hopefully have time to add information on pre-poll and postal vote rates by electorate.

Early Voting by Electorate

The table below sets out the postal and pre-poll voting rates by electorate as at 6 March. The first column of numbers shows the percentage of enrolled voters in each electorate that have applied for a postal vote. The second shows the percentage of voters that have returned a postal vote. The third shows the the percentage of voters who have cast a pre-poll vote by 6 March, and the final column shows the percentage of pre-polls plus postals returned as a measure of how many completed votes are already in the hands of the Electoral Commission.

All gigures are as at the end of early voting on 12 March.

The table can be sorted by column.


Previous Updates

Statistics at the end of business on Thursday 11 March are

  • 499,226 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 29.1% of enrolled voters. This is more than twice as many pre-polls as were taken in total at the 2017 election. 58,311 were taken on Thursday, the most taken on any day to date.
  • 331,078 postal vote applications were received up till close of applications on 10 March representing 19.3% of enrolled voters.
  • 154,231 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 9.0% of enrolled voters or 46.6% of postal vote applications.

Statistics at the end of business on Wednesday 10 March are

  • 440,915 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 25.7% of enrolled voters. This is twice as many pre-polls as were taken in total at the 2017 election. 52,140 were taken on Wednesday, the most taken on any day to date.
  • 331,078 postal vote applications have been received representing 19.3% of enrolled voters, figures as at 9 March.
  • 140,892 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 8.2% of enrolled voters or 42.6% of postal vote applications.

Statistics at the end of business on Tuesday 9 March are

  • 388,775 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 22.6% of enrolled voters. This is more pre-poll votes than were taken in total at the 2017 election. 44,979 were taken on Tuesday.
  • 318,443 postal vote applications have been received representing 18.5% of enrolled voters, figures as at 8 March.
  • 114,617 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 6.7% of enrolled voters or 36.0% of postal vote applications.

Statistics at the end of business on Monday 8 March are

  • 343,796 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 20.0% of enrolled voters. This is more pre-poll votes than were taken in total at the 2017 election. 47,799 were taken on Monday, the most on any single day to date.
  • 318,443 postal vote applications have been received representing 18.5% of enrolled voters, figures as at 8 March.
  • 93,956 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 5.5% of enrolled voters or 30.1% of postal vote applications.

Statistics at the end of business on Saturday 6 March are

  • 295,997 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 17.2% of enrolled voters. This is more pre-poll votes than were taken in total at the 2017 election. 44,354 were taken on Saturday, the most on any single day to date.
  • 318,443 postal vote applications have been received representing 18.5% of enrolled voters, figures as at 4 March.
  • 78,119 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 4.6% of enrolled voters or 25.1% of postal vote applications. With no postal deliveries on a Saturday, there was no change to the total returned.

Statistics at the end of business on Friday 5 March are

  • 251,643 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 14.7% of enrolled voters. This is more pre-poll votes than were taken in total at the 2017 election.
  • 311,676 postal vote applications have been received representing 18.2% of enrolled voters, figures as at 4 March.
  • 78,119 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 4.6% of enrolled voters or 25.1% of postal vote applications.

End of business on Thursday 4 March

  • 210,693 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 12.3% of enrolled voters.
  • 311,676 postal vote applications have been received representing 18.2% of enrolled voters.
  • 57,818 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 3.4% of enrolled voters or 18.6% of postal vote applications.

2 thoughts on “2021 WA Election – Tracking the Early Vote”

  1. Do “postal vote applications” include voters who are general postal voters and do not require an application in order to receive their postal vote?

    COMMENT: They do at Federal elections, permanent postal voters being treated merely as an additional source of application. In WA I can’t tell you.

  2. I am wondering how many postal votes will be either informal or cancelled because of the requirement to have a witness sign the envelope. That’s not something which has been communicated very well to voters, and I’m wondering how many people will get it wrong. Either leave it blank thinking it’s only for people who need assistance, or fill in their own name and address, or have to cancel their postal if they don’t have anyone who can witness it for them. There’s a lot of socially isolated people out there who could be disadvantaged by that requirement, let alone the intimidation factor of having someone you know be present as you vote. This has been very poorly communicated to voters in the lead up to the election.

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