February 2024

Update on looming elections, by-elections and redistributions

March will be a big month for elections. It’s keeping me very busy.

The biggest election in terms of voter numbers is Brisbane City Council, followed by the Tasmanian state election.

There is also a Federal by-election in Dunkley, two Queensland state by-elections and one South Australian state by-election.

Over the horizon beyond Easter are the Cook federal by-election, and now an announcement on the start to the Northern Territory federal redistribution.

I have ABC websites and blog posts being updated on all these electoral events. This post is an opportunity to highlight the on-going work I’m doing on each of these events, as well as pointing out some of the most recent updates.Read More »Update on looming elections, by-elections and redistributions

Dunkley By-election – Tracking the Early Vote

In this post I will track the rate of pre-poll voting, postal vote application and postal vote return rates for the Dunkley by-election. Polling day is Saturday 2 March.

I’ll put headline figures here at the top of the post each day and graph daily voting rates inside the post.

Saturday 24 February

  • Pre-poll numbers turned around on Friday, more than doubling the previous day’s numbers with 2,529 votes taken. After five days a total of 8,461 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 7.5% of enrolment. This compares to an estimated 9,791 votes or 8.8% of enrolment in 2022. The 2022 figure has been adjusted to exclude out-of-district pre-polls. The 2,529 pre-polls taken on Friday compared to 2,086 on day 5 in 2022.
  • (Figures yet to be updated.) 20,0021 applications for a postal vote have been received representing 17.6% of enrolment. So far 8,398 postal votes have been returned representing 7.4% of enrolment or 41.9% of applications.

The total figures for Dunkley at the 2022 election were –

  • Adjusting for out-of-district pre-polls, there were 30,395 pre-poll votes taken in Dunkley at the 2022 election, representing 27.2% of enrolment or 30.2% of total votes.
  • There were 22,221 applications for postal votes representing 19.9% of enrolment. 16,625 postal votes had returned by polling day, a return rate of 74.8%. By the closing date for receipt of postal votes, 18,430 had been received, a return rate of 82.9%.
  • Returned postal votes represented 16.5% of enrolment. Postal votes admitted to the count represented 18.3% of the total vote in 2022.

Read More »Dunkley By-election – Tracking the Early Vote

Obstacles in the way of Independents at the ACT Election

Australian jurisdictions that elect upper houses by proportional representation, and allow the grouping of candidates on the ballot paper, have a two step process for nomination.

First a candidate nominates. Then candidates can lodge a separate form requesting they be grouped on the ballot paper. Candidate that don’t lodge a grouping request will be placed in the ‘Ungrouped’ column on the far right of the ballot paper.

When requesting grouping, candidates also specify the order in which their names will be listed in the column. Where the candidates are from a registered party or parties, their party name or names will be printed at the top of the column.

The rules are different for Tasmania and the ACT, the two jurisdictions that use variants of the Hare-Clark electoral system. Request for grouping are allowed, but parties and candidates cannot determine the order names are listed. Hare-Clark ballot papers randomise the order of candidate names printed in each column.

In Tasmania there are differences in the grouping rules for party candidates versus independent candidates. Parties simply request their candidates, or even a single candidate, be listed in one column. An Independent or Independents can make the same request, but as explained in this post, they must supply more nominator names.

In contrast the ACT does not allow grouped Independents. Independents will be placed in the Ungrouped column unless the Independents go through the process of registering a party name. For slightly different reasons, David Pocock registered a party called David Pocock to contest the 2022 Senate election, making it easier for voters to identify him on the ballot paper.

This rule on Independents will be a major impediment for the talk of Independents contesting the ACT election in October. Unless they register some sort of party name to nominate under, ACT Independents will be placed in the Ungrouped column.

The first blog post I ever published was in 2008 and concerned changes to the ACT Electoral Act restricting ballot paper columns to registered parties.

That old blog is no longer publicly available. With Tasmanian and ACT elections looming, and talk of high profile Independents contesting both, I thought it worth resurrecting the old post. In short, Tasmania provides a mechanism allowing Independents access to a column on the ballot paper, but the ACT does not.

The unaltered post below was first published on 28 March 2008.Read More »Obstacles in the way of Independents at the ACT Election

Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries

Today marks seven years since the Northern Territory’s current federal electoral boundaries were first gazetted. Under the ‘seven-year rule’ in Section 59 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a redistribution of the NT’s federal boundaries must commence within 30 days.

The NT’s redistribution will differ from those currently underway in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The other state redistributions have been triggered by a change in seat entitlements under Section 24 of the Constitution. New South Wales and Victoria will both lose a seat, Western Australia gain a seat. The seat numbers will be unchanged at two for the NT redistribution.

Seven-year rule redistributions can be deferred if they commence within twelve months of the expiry date for the House of Representatives. The deferral deadline in 2024 is May, meaning seven-year rule redistributions due for Tasmania in November and Queensland in March 2025 will be deferred until after the next election.

But the Northern Territory redistribution will go ahead. With only two seats involved, the process of drawing boundaries will be easily completed before the next election is due. Unlike with change of seat number redistributions, there are no complications if an early election is called because the existing NT divisions would remain in place.

While unlikely to have major political implications, it is worth looking at the NT redistribution to examine how the NT briefly lost its second seat in 2020, and also to observe how the Australian Electoral Commission’s Indigenous enrolment drive before the 2023 referendum has increased remote enrolment.
Read More »Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries