Daily updated post tracking the rates of postal and pre-poll voting compared to previous elections.
State and territory elections over the last two years have seen a huge increase in both pre-poll and postal voting. I’ve written a number of posts on trends at those elections. I’ll include some relevant links at the end of this post.
I’ve also published a second post with a sortable table and graph showing the rates of pre-poll and postal voting by division.
The time between close of nominations and polling day is one week longer in 2022 compared to 2019, four weeks versus three weeks. In contrast, a change in the law means that pre-poll voting will be one week shorter in 2022, confined to only two weeks rather than the three weeks allowed at previous elections. The change means that where in 2019 pre-poll voting and postal voting started at the same time, in 2022 there have been two weeks for parties to flood the electorate with postal vote applications before the start of pre-poll voting for two weeks.
Summary of Early Voting statistics at the end of the pre-polling day period Friday 20 May –
- (Postals for Friday not yet available) With the closing date for postal vote applications now past, a total of 2,731,060 postal vote applications had been received representing 15.9% of enrolment. This compares to 1,538,139 in 2019 or 9.4% of enrolment.
- 1,644,061 postal votes have been returned representing 9.5% of enrolment or 55.0% of dispatched postal vote packs. There have now been more postal votes returned in 2022 than the total number of postal applications in 2019.
- In 2019 84.0% of postal votes dispatched were returned, though 3% postals did not make it through scrutiny so only 81.0% of postal votes dispatched made it into the count.
- Postal votes admitted to the count in 2019 represented 7.6% of enrolment, or 8.2% of votes. (Based on House ballot papers admitted.)
Summary Pre-Poll Statistice –
- Final Pre-polls to total is 5,541,757 to a total of 4,778,856 in 2019 in the reported daily figures. There were just under a million votes taken on Friday, 923,852 in total and 208,000 more than on the final day in 2019. There have been five fewer days of pre-polling in 2022 because of the change in the law, but the number of pre-polls has passed the number taken in the longer period in 2019. See graphs below. Pre-polls represent 32.2% of enrolled voters compared to 29.9 in 2019.
- Pre-poll figures for both 2019 and 2022 are of all pre-polls issued at early voting centres so includes both within district ordinary pre-polls and out of district pre-poll declaration. Based on 2019 experience, most pre-polls will be within district pre-polls.
- There were 4,908,831 pre-poll votes in 2019 representing 29.9% of enrolment or 32.5% of votes counted. This is the final audited pre-poll figure which is slightly higher than the reported daily totals used above in comparison to the daily totals in 2022.
- In 2019 there were 4,288,451 House votes cast as pre-poll ordinaries, that is at a polling place for the voter’s home division. These represented 28.4% of votes counted.
- There were another 620,380 House votes cast as pre-poll declaration, largely pre-poll absents cast outside of division, representing 4.1% of votes counted.
Early Votes Taken to Date
The chart below shows the Pre-poll and Postal Vote applications by state as a percentage of enrolment.
Comparing Pre-poll Voting at the 2019 and 2022 Elections
The first chart shows the number of votes per day. The blue dots are 2019 figures with the number increasing daily through the campaign with the fewest number taken in the first week. The green dots are 2022 daily figures by day.
The next chart shows the cumulative numbers as a percentage of enrolled voters. The percentage will be higher as a proportion of votes cast. The horizontal axis shows days of pre-polling over the three weeks in 2019 and the same for the two weeks in 2022.
Comparing Postal Voting at the 2019 and 2022 Elections
Graphs comparing postal votes can be a little complex. There is always a big surge of postal votes added to the AEC statistics with the close of nominations. This is caused by the inclusion of permanent postal voters to the tally with the close of nominations. With the 2022 election closing nominations a week earlier than 2022, the comparison is complicated. I've decided just to plot the last three weeks of statistics as shown in the chart below. I'm also including the rate of postal votes returned.
Past Record of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting
The chart below shows percentage of votes by category at elections since 1993. It shows clearly the rise in early voting over the last 15 years.
Until 2007 all pre-poll votes were declaration votes, and like postal votes, required a voter to tick one of a category of reasons why the voter was casting a pre-poll or postal vote. Scrutineers were entitled to challenge votes on the basis of the reason. The inclusion of reason on the declaration was removed after the 2007 election. Pre-poll voting within division was converted to voters making an oral declaration, having their name marked off the electoral roll, and being issued ballot papers which were placed directly into a ballot box on completion. Pre-poll ordinary votes are available for counting on election night.
I go into more detail on the background to the change in pre-poll voting in a previous post, Should we Count Pre-poll votes before 6pm on Election Day?. The idea of counting pre-polls early was rejected, but the AEC is now permitted to open pre-poll ballot boxes from 4pm on election day to sort and unfold ballot papers. Counting won't start until 6pm, but the extra time for unfolding
Two-Party results by Vote Category
The chart below shows the two-party vote for categories of votes cast at the 2019 election. The percentage of votes in each category is shown on the left.
As shown, Labor won the vote on polling day with ordinary and absent votes, but the Coalition's victory was built upon stronger performance with pre-poll voting and especially with postal votes.
Note that "Other" votes includes, hospital, remote and other forms of mobile voting.