Antony Green

Antony Green - Election Analyst

Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting

In the final week of parliamentary sittings, Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath tabled the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM’s) inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 Federal election. (You can find the report here.)

One of the controversial proposals in the report, and one opposed by Labor and Green members of JSCEM, was a recommendation to move from full or compulsory preferential voting (CPV) to optional preferential voting (OPV) for House of Representatives elections.

The report provides few arguments in favour of OPV. The recommendation for OPV appears suddenly at the end of a brief discussion on informal voting, in particular noting the impact OPV’s use at NSW elections has on informal voting at Federal elections. Senate McGrath presented a different argument for OPV when tabling the JSCEM report in the Senate, referring to OPV as a measure “to maximise voter choice”.

I’ve written on OPV many time previously, and I would suggest reading this post I wrote in 2013 after a previous suggestion from the Coalition about introducing OPV.

Informal voting will always be higher under compulsory preferential voting because ballot papers with faulty numbering have few options for salvation available. This compares with OPV where ballot papers with incomplete, duplicate or missing numbers, or completed with a single tick or cross, can count for candidates to the extent that a voter’s intent is clear.Read More »Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting

The Decline of Three-Cornered Contests at Federal Elections

This is the first post in a topic I’m calling “Graph of the Day”. It will mainly be shorter posts where I’ll graph something I’ve been researching or otherwise think is worth documenting.

This post and its graphs are about the decline of three-cornered or triangular contests, that is districts where both Coalition parties nominate candidates against the Labor Party.

The decline has been steep, from more than 40% of districts in the mid-1980s to fewer than 8% at the last six Federal elections.

The number of three-cornered contests is likely to fall further if a proposal from within the Federal Coalition to introduce optional preferential voting comes to fruition.

My prediction of a further decline under optional preferential voting is based on the record of state elections in NSW and Queensland. NSW has used optional preferential voting for state elections since 1980, and it was also used for Queensland state elections from 1992 to 2015.

That the Coalition parties actively avoid three-cornered contests under OPV is clear. There has not been a three-cornered contest at a NSW election since 1999. In Queensland, after 61 three-cornered contests at the first OPV election in 1992, the numbers declined to one in 1995, two in 1998, and six at the 2001 election. There were no three-cornered contests in 2004 or 2006, and the Liberal and National Parties merged ahead of the 2009 Queensland election.Read More »The Decline of Three-Cornered Contests at Federal Elections

2020 Groom By-election – Rates of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting

Voting for the Groom by-election has been underway today with few surprises expected in the result.

Groom is an ultra-safe LNP seat, held with a margin of 20.5%. The by-election has been caused by the resignation of LNP member John McVeigh. Only four candidates have nominated, well down on the 14 that contested the Eden-Monaro by-election in July. That Labor nominated a candidate in such as safe LNP seat was greeted with general surprise, while the Greens have opted out of contesting a Federal by-election for the first time in a quarter-century.

The LNP’s Garth Hamilton is expected to win easily and I won’t be providing any coverage of the results tonight. The best places to follow the results are the Australian Electoral Commission’s website, and via William Bowe at his Pollbludger site.

As I have for other elections this year, I thought it worth devoting a post to pre-poll and postal voting rates. With Covid-19 still around, you would have expected a high rate of postal and pre-poll voting. In fact the numbers are only slightly higher in Groom than at last year’s Federal election.

It gives me an opportunity to raise an issue about postal vote applications that should be addressed before the next Federal election. In short, there are serious questions as to whether we should still be allowing postal vote applications as late as the Wednesday before polling day. With Australia Post scaling back postal delivery times, what is the point of allowing application for postal votes too late for the postal vote pack to be delivered before polling day?
Read More »2020 Groom By-election – Rates of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting

2020 ACT Election – A Few Things to Watch For

The ACT uses the same Hare-Clark electoral system as Tasmania, but differences in the way voters use their ballot papers means that election counts can unfold differently.

Hare-Clark shares a common ancestor with the Senate’s electoral system, but several key differences mean that Hare-Clark operates as a contest between candidates where the Senate’s electoral system is overwhelmingly a contest between parties.

The difference starts with the ballot paper.Read More »2020 ACT Election – A Few Things to Watch For

Early Voting at Queensland Elections and its Political Impact

As a Covid-19 measure, the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) is encouraging electors to vote early in 2020. This means the Queensland election will see a record rate of votes cast before the traditional polling day on 31 October.

While the overall early voting rates will be exaggerated by the circumstances of holding an election under Covid-19 precautions, the switch to early voting continues a trend that has been accelerating over the last decade.

This post looks at Queensland elections since 1986, how and when people have voted, as well as the differing levels of party support by vote type at the 2017 state election.Read More »Early Voting at Queensland Elections and its Political Impact

Eden-Monaro By-election – Regional and Vote Type Breakdown of the 2019 Result

To help in analysing the Eden-Monaro by-election results on Saturday night, I’ve broken down the 2019 results by region and by vote type.

In summary, the electorate has three broad regions. The largest by population is the Queanbeyan-Palerang council area with 32.0% of votes taken in 2019. The rural areas surrounding the ACT including Yass, Tumut and Cooma took 28.1%, while voting centres on the NSW far south coast took 25.9%.

Labor’s two-party vote versus the Liberal Party was strongest in Queanbeyan-Palerang (54.6% to 45.4%), then the South Coast (52.5% to 47.5%) and weakest in the rural areas (46.1% to 53.9%). The Liberal Party’s two-party vote was strongest in the reverse order to Labor’s, shown as the second figure in the bracketed numbers above.

Of first preferences support for minor parties, National support was weakest on the South Coast (2.5%) and strongest in the Yass-Tumut-Cooma area (11.1%).  Green support was strongest on the South Coast (10.0%).

Of all votes cast in 2019, only 50.6% were ordinary votes cast in polling places on election day. Another 35.4% were pre-poll ordinary votes cast during the campaign. There were another 5.8% of votes cast as pre-poll absent votes, 5.6% as postal votes, 1.9% as absent votes, and 0.7% as others including provisional and special hospital votes.

In descending order of Labor two-party preferred percent versus the Liberal Party, the results were absent (54.6% to 45.4%), polling places (52.8% to 47.2%), pre-poll absent (52.3% to 47.7%), pre-poll ordinary (48.9% to 51.1%)  and postal votes (42.9% to 57.1%). In summary, Labor won polling day, the Liberal Party won the pre-poll period, with Labor winning narrowly overall.

More detail can be found in this post below, with much more detail on the by-election, the candidates and polling place results at my ABC Eden-Monaro by-election guide.

Read More »Eden-Monaro By-election – Regional and Vote Type Breakdown of the 2019 Result

Local Seats for Local People – Who Should be Allowed to Contest Elections

Whether candidates live in the electorate they contest is a question that induces rage with some voters.

Who are these blow-in candidates they’ve never heard of contesting the local seat?

It is a matter that raises particular attention in country seats, where being an outsider is a major disadvantage for a candidate.

But for political parties, trying to find candidates for your opponent’s safest seats is always difficult. It is an obvious truth of politics that the quality of a party’s candidates dips as the chances of the party winning a seat declines. It is a truth that becomes even more evident at elections where a party looks certain of defeat.

Serious political parties contest every seat, even if only to attract a few extra dollars from public election funding. But trying to find candidates that are qualified to stand, (think dual citizenship issues at Federal elections), doesn’t have an embarrassing social media history, and won’t start spouting loopy ideas that attract mainstream media attention, can be something of a challenge.Read More »Local Seats for Local People – Who Should be Allowed to Contest Elections