Melton was one of the seven districts where the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) conducted its re-check of election night votes by data entering ballot paper preferences into a computer system.
Melton had 14 candidates, and electorates with more than 12 candidates presented a counting problem for the VEC. After election night, all votes are manually check counted in bundles of 50 ballot papers, each bundle made up of first preferences for one candidate. After the counting of each bundle, bank note counters are used to quickly double check the number of counted papers in each bundle. The note counters verify the hand tally, NOT what’s written on the ballot papers.
Ballot papers with more than 12 candidates can’t fit into note counters. Hence why Melton (14 candidates), Point Cook (15) and Werribee (15) were data entered. The inability to use note counters would have substantially slowed down the amalgamation count where ballot papers are broken out of their polling place bundles and amalgamated ahead of the distribution of preferences. The distribution of preferences itself would also have been slowed.
Melton was a closely watched seat in 2022. It was the only seat in the state that had swung against Labor at the two previous state elections, and there had also been unusual swings against Labor in the area at May’s Federal election. Melton also attracted two noteworthy Independents in Dr Ian Birchall, who polled well in 2018, and Jarrod Bingham. When rolled in, it turned out neither had polled significantly, Birchall finishing third with 9.0% and Bingham fourth on 5.8%.
The two major parties attracted only 62% of the vote between them, Labor 37.7% and the Liberal Party 24.3%. But the other 38% was split across 12 candidates. In a seat with a low Green vote and with Independents campaigning against the government, Melton was a rare seat where preferences favoured the Liberal Party.
But the main threat to Labor in Melton was an Independent finishing second and sweeping up Liberal preferences, which in the end did not happen. That Bingham recommended preferences for the Liberal candidate ahead of Birchall further reduced the chances of the minor party vote coalescing. Too many candidates resulted in the anti-Labor vote dissipating in the distribution of preferences, as had happened in 2018.
As with my previous posts on Northcote, Preston, Hawthorn and Brighton, this post will use of the electronic ballot papers to analyse preference flow statistics and also to look at the influence of candidate how-to-votes.
The key findings for Melton are –
- The Liberal Party how-to-vote, which switched in 2022 to recommend preference for the Greens ahead of Labor, resulted in 73.9% of Liberal voters following the recommendation and putting the Greens ahead of Labor. Note that Liberal preferences were not distributed.
- For the 12 Melton candidates that registered how-to-votes indicating preferences, 27.0% of ballot papers exactly matched the how-to-vote of the chosen first preference party. The Liberals at 36.7% and Labor at 33.4% had the highest rate of ballot paper concordance with how-to-vote recommendations. The plethora of minor parties showed very little how-to-vote discipline.
- In the two-party preferred count, a rare minority 44.5% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal. The Greens polled only 4.6% of the vote but still delivered 80.3% of preferences to Labor despite fewer than one in ten Green ballot papers having the recommended how-to-vote sequence.
More detail with tables inside the post.Read More »VIC22 – Melton – Analysis of Preferences