Antony Green

WA’s Experiment with Lower House Ticket Voting

Divided Senate ballot papers and Group Voting Tickets were first introduced for Senate elections in 1984. They were later adapted for use in the four mainland states with Legislative Councils, South Australia in 1985, NSW in 1988, Western Australia in 1989 and Victoria finally in 2006.

Divided ballot papers remain in use for electing upper houses in all jurisdictions. However, group voting tickets (GVTs), allowing parties to control between-party preferences, have fallen out of favour. GVTs were abolished in NSW in 2003, for the Senate in 2016 and in South Australia in 2018. GVTs are still part of the upper house voting system in Victoria and Western Australia.

All states except Western Australia adopted the Senate’s horizontal ballot paper where groups are listed left to right, with voters given the option of voting ‘above the line’ for party groups, or ‘below the line’ for lists of candidates. Western Australia finally adopted this ballot paper in 2017.

The original WA upper house ballot paper listed parties and groups vertically. Voters were given the choice of voting for groups on the left of the ballot paper, or for candidates on the right.

The reason Western Australia adopted a different ballot paper was because the design was intended to be used for both upper and lower house elections. The divided lower house ballot paper was used for three by-elections in 1988 but then abandoned before the 1989 state election.

A sample of the divided ballot paper used for the 1988 Ascot by-election is shown below.Read More »WA’s Experiment with Lower House Ticket Voting

How to Vote in the Western Australian Upper House

It is VERY important that voters understand that the rules for voting in the WA upper house, the Legislative Council, are not the same as those used at the last two federal Senate elections.

Ahead of the 2016 Federal election, the rules for Senate voting were changed. Party control over preferences was ended by the abolition of group voting tickets (GVTs), previously used by parties to control preferences. The new system put control over between-party preference entirely in the hands of voters, the same as applies at lower house elections.

But these changes do not apply for WA Legislative Council elections.

This post is a Q&A explaining the differences and giving some hints on how to complete your Legislative Council ballot paper.Read More »How to Vote in the Western Australian Upper House

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.

Read More »2021 WA Election – Tracking the Early Vote

Western Australian Legislative Council Calculators Launched

Today I have launched my Legislative Council calculators for the Western Australian election.

You can find the calculators for each region at this link, an explanation of how they work on this page, and links to the group voting tickets for each region over here.

At the 2017 election, more than 95% of votes in all six regions were cast as single ‘1’ above the line tickets, meaning those votes were counted according to each party’s lodged group voting tickets.

The asymmetry of effort between casting a single ‘1’ for a party above the line, or laboriously numbering more than 50 preferences below the line, herds voters into accepting the preference deals and voting above the line for a single party. That sends their vote off on a preferential magical mystery tour across the ballot paper.

As usual there are complex micro-party preference harvesting deals, though not as locked together as at some previous elections. Each of the micro-parties has been allocated a region in which they will be favoured. These are – Read More »Western Australian Legislative Council Calculators Launched

The Gurgle Hole of History – Leaders who’ve lost their Seats at Elections

Western Australia’s Liberal Leader Zak Kirkup holds his seat of Dawesville by a margin of just 0.8%.

According to the Newspoll in this morning’s The Australian, the swing to Labor at the state election on 13 March could be more than ten times Kirkup’s margin in Dawesville. Kirkup is clearly in danger of losing his seat, even if you intone the usual caveats about margin of error and the perils of assuming uniform swing.

It raises the grim prospect for Kirkup that his name could soon be added to an unwanted list – that of government leaders and opposition leaders who have lost their seats at an election.Read More »The Gurgle Hole of History – Leaders who’ve lost their Seats at Elections

Donkey Vote Advantages for the 2021 Western Australian Election

With nominations for the WA election now published, it’s worth assessing what small advantage candidates and parties will gain from the ‘donkey vote’.

I have published all candidates in ballot paper order on the ABC’s election website if you want investigate the ballot orders yourself. I have also summarised the nominations in another blog post.

Analysis of Australian elections has always shown that a small advantage accrues to the candidate that appears first on a lower house ballot paper. As the number of candidates increases, the advantage seems to increase. No one wants to be listed last on a ballot paper with a dozen or more candidates, a disadvantage the Liberal Party suffered at last year’s Eden-Monaro by-election.

A similar advantage exists with upper house ballot papers for groups that appear in the first column at the left hand edge of the ballot paper. Experience has shown this advantage is even greater when there is confusion over ballot paper names. That will certainly be a problem for the Liberal Party at the 2021 WA election.
Read More »Donkey Vote Advantages for the 2021 Western Australian Election

Kalgoorlie – Changing Boundaries, Changing Votes

Kalgoorlie was one of the Western Australian regional seats whose politics was upended by the introduction of one-vote one-value electoral boundaries. As was also the case with Albany and Geraldton, a small urban seat suddenly expanded to include rural areas. And in the case of Kalgoorlie, to include vast remote districts.

It wasn’t just new boundaries that changed the political complexion of Kalgoorlie. Labor had already lost the seat in 2001 as the result of a decline in Labor support that began in the 1980s.

(This post is an extract from the Kalgoorlie page of my 2021 WA Election guide. You can find the full electorate profile here.)

Read More »Kalgoorlie – Changing Boundaries, Changing Votes

Western Australian Election Site Updates

(This post is being updated most days. See inside post for details)

My 2021 Western Australian Election Website has been published on the ABC website. While published at the start of campaign, the site continues to have material added to it on a daily basis.

As an experiment, I’m going to maintain this post as a daily log of updates.

For anyone who wants to submit candidate information for the site, don’t send it through this blog. Please use the ABC elections e-mail link.

Wednesday 3 March

Read More »Western Australian Election Site Updates

The Battle for Albany

Before discussing the battle for Albany, I’ll give a plug for my 2021 Western Australian election guide that is now available on the ABC website.

The guide has all the usual bells and whistles, backgrounds on all seats, maps with 2017 polling place results, background on candidates, and indexes by candidate name, electorate name and electorate margin. The site is not static and is updated on a daily basis. Full lists of candidates will be added after the release of nominations on 12 February, and upper house calculators will be launched once group voting tickets have been lodged.

But back to this post’s subject – Albany. It is almost an anti-bellwether seat, having been retained by Labor for two decades, against all state-wide trends, almost entirely due to the personal vote of sitting Labor MLA Peter Watson.

Watson is retiring at the 2021 election. Albany is Labor’s 10th most marginal seat with a margin on 5.9%. Without Watson, can Labor hold Albany?Read More »The Battle for Albany

2019 SA Senate Election Part 2 – the Preference Distribution

Part 1 of my post on the 2019 SA Senate election analysed how voters completed their ballot papers under the new Senate system, how preferences flowed between parties and what was the impact of how-to-votes.

This post will be more descriptive in summarising the formal distribution of preferences. It highlights major exclusions and distributions during the count and comments on differences with how the count might have unfolded had the abolished group voting ticket system still been in place.
Read More »2019 SA Senate Election Part 2 – the Preference Distribution