Federal elections

Tracking the Early Vote for the 2022 Federal Election

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.

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.

Summary Postal Vote Statistics as at the end of Saturday 14 May

  • A total of 2,534,788 postal vote applications had been received representing 14.7% of enrolment. This compares to 1,538,139 in 2019 or 9.4% of enrolment.
  • 1,015,493 postal votes have been returned representing 5.9% of enrolment or 40.1% of dispatched postal vote packs.
  • 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 –

  • Pre-polls to date are 1,988,999 compared to 2,203,077 at the same time in 2019, though there have been five fewer days of pre-polling in 2022 because of the change in the law. See graphs below. Pre-polls currently represent 11.5% of enrolled voters compared to 13.4% at the equivalent date in the second week of pre-polling 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.
  • 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.

Read More »Tracking the Early Vote for the 2022 Federal Election

2022 Federal Election Date Named plus links to my Election Guide

So the 2022 Australian federal election will be held on Saturday 21 May. That’s three years to the weekend since the last election.

The wild theories that the Prime Minister would delay the House election until later in the year proved to be, as expected, completely wrong.

The relevant dates for the election are:

Dissolution and Issue of Writs – tomorrow, Monday 11 April

Close of Rolls – Monday 18 April. This is Easter Monday so the Easter break will complicate people trying to enrol or update their details. You can find the AEC’s new enrolment page here, and update enrolment form here.

Close of Nominations – Thursday 21 April. Ballot draw and release of nominations will be on Friday 22 April. Postal votes will not be sent to voters until after the close of nominations, which means after the Anzac Day weekend.

Postal Vote ApplicationsCan be applied for now through the AEC website. You must apply for a postal vote by Wednesday 18 May, but you are better applying well before the close of application date if you hope to receive your postal vote pack before polling day.

Pre-poll-Voting begins – Monday 9 May. Note that the Electoral Act has been changed since 2019 to shorten pre-poll voting to two weeks instead of three.

Polling Day – Saturday 21 May.

The election period is six weeks instead of the usual five. This means there are four weeks between close of nominations and polling day. With pre-poll voting now limited to two weeks, people cannot vote in person until four weeks into the election campaign.

However, it is likely that political parties will flood the electorate with postal vote applications in the two weeks before pre-poll starts encourage people to vote by post. Read my notes on postal voting inside this port.

Inside the post I also include links to my background material on the 2022 Federal election at the ABC election website.
Read More »2022 Federal Election Date Named plus links to my Election Guide

Loophole allows Liberal Democrats to Retain their Party Name

(7:15pm – this post has been updated to clarify some points of law.)

Last year Labor and the Coalition combined to pass legislation that prevented parties from having registered names that were too similar to those of already registered parties.

It was clear the target of the legislation was the Liberal Democratic Party. Last November, after applications by the Liberal and Labor Parties, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) gave notice that the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Labour Party would be de-registered if they did not change their names.

The full 3-person Australian Electoral Commission confirmed the original de-registration notice from November on 9 February., so the Liberal Democrats were de-registered under their existing name.

On 9 March the High Court upheld the new law by which the party had been de-registered. It looked like game, set and match for the Liberal Democrats.

But no, the Liberal Democrats are free to contest the 2022 election under the name Liberal Democrats despite the law and despite the High Court.

It all comes down to a clever loophole in the law that someone in the party spotted.
Read More »Loophole allows Liberal Democrats to Retain their Party Name

Why the 2022 House and Senate Elections will be held on the same day

Last year I wrote a post on possible elections dates. In the post I wrote “There is a highly improbable option for a half-Senate election by 21 May 2022 and a separate House election as late as 3 September 2022.”

This improbable option keeps being re-cycled as a real possibility.

It isn’t.

If the government doesn’t call a May election for the House in conjunction with the required half-Senate election, it would be an admission by the government that it is too frit to face the electorate. There is no constitutional or public administration reason to hold separate elections for the House and half-Senate in 2022. Separating the elections would be because the government saw some electoral benefit.

In my view there is no benefit for the government in splitting the elections. In fact, splitting the election would be a terrible re-election strategy. Forcing the electorate to vote twice at most only 15 weeks apart would be deeply deeply unpopular and almost guarantee the government’s defeat.

No Australian Prime Minister has ever called a separate half-Senate election at a time when a House election was due. No Prime Minister has ever delayed a House election beyond its normal term by creating two elections 15 weeks apart. Prime Minister Morrison is not going to the first Prime Minister to engage in the folly of splitting the two elections in this way. He didn’t do it in 2019 and he is not going to do it in 2022.

The only people peddling this split election nonsense are people on twitter who hate the government. Splitting the elections would guarantee defeat. The government is not going to select the option that is its worst possible option for winning re-election.

So having vented my irritation that this nonsense is still being peddled, let me explain why the elections can be split.Read More »Why the 2022 House and Senate Elections will be held on the same day

What to Watch for with the NSW By-elections

It’s Saturday 12 February 2022, by-election day in NSW.

It’s not often you get four by-elections caused by such high profile departures from parliament, three former party leaders including a former Premier, Deputy Premier and Opposition Leader, and a former senior cabinet member.

The four by-elections with links to my ABC election guide for each are

I’m involved in the ABC’s live coverage of the results from 6pm on ABC news channel. You can also follow the results at the ABC elections site where I will add some relevant commentary when I’m not too busy with the television coverage.Read More »What to Watch for with the NSW By-elections

Federal Election Guide Published

It hasn’t had it’s formal launch yet, but my 2022 Federal Election Guide has been published by the ABC.

Here’s the link
https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/federal/2022/guide/preview-national

That’s the link to the overall election preview which includes links to a preview for the contest in each state.

At the top of the page are the usual links to Electorate and Candidate index pages. From these you can navigate to a profile for every electorate.

There’s more to be added to the site but this is a good start.Read More »Federal Election Guide Published

Election Night Analysis – Art or Science?

On 15 January I gave a presentation at the 2022 Linux conference on how Australian elections are counted and reported, and in particular, how I go about calling the winner as part of the ABC election coverage.

I titled the talk “Election Night Analysis – Art or Science?”, and as I explain in the talk, it is all statistics and mathematics with only a hint of art and hunch around the edges.

Here’s a video of the address which you can watch in the embedded version below or link through to the version on YouTube.Read More »Election Night Analysis – Art or Science?

2022 Contests of Interest – Capricornia

This is the first of several posts I will do in the run up to the Federal election, expected to be held in May.

These posts will draw on material from my soon-to-be-published election guide guide for the ABC.

My posts on this site won’t be about the key seats that will decide the election. Rather I will concentrate on seats of political science interest, where the 2019 election produced a peculiar result, or where there are significant long term shifts in party support.

My first post on Capricornia fits both these criteria. The 2019 election result was well out of line with past results in the seat. The question is whether the 2019 result in Capricornia was caused by the issues that swirled around the 2019 campaign, or was the result a longer term trend that is undermining Labor support in the seat.Read More »2022 Contests of Interest – Capricornia

Why the NT seat of Lingiari keeps being mentioned in the VoterID Debate

Opponents of the Morrison government’s VoterID bill, currently being debated by Parliament, have regularly pointed out that some groups of voters will be disadvantaged by the new law if passed.

The argument is that some groups of electors are less likely to have the forms of identification set out in the bill, meaning they will be disproportionally represented amongst those denied access to an ordinary vote.

The group most often mentioned is Indigenous voters, in particular remote Indigenous voters, and the electoral division where this will have the most impact is Lingiari, the sprawling outback Northern Territory seat.

According to the 2016 Census, 40% of the division’s residents are Indigenous. But because remote voters are not included in the national automatic enrolment program, and because of cuts in remote indigenous enrolment programs, indigenous voters make up less than 40% of enrolled electors in Lingiari.

In Lingiari, remote postal services are largely non-existent and the electorate has the nation’s lowest rate of postal voting at 2.9%. As a proportion of electors, this figure is even lower in comparison to other divisions because Lingiari consistently has the nation’s lowest turnout. The turnout in Lingiari at the 2019 election was 72.9% compared to the national figure of 91.9%.

Turnout is low because remote Indigenous voters have little access to election day polling places used by other Australians, and because pre-poll ordinary voting is generally only available in Alice Springs, Katherine, and around Greater Darwin.

Most Indigenous votes are collected by remote mobile polling teams that travel around the electorate visiting communities for as little as one hour on a single day.

One of the key campaign jobs of candidates in Lingiari is making sure communities know when a mobile team is turning up, and making sure community members are around to vote when it arrives. Many miss out.

So Lingiari is central to the debate on voter ID. Remote indigenous electors are already the category of Australians least likely to be enrolled, least likely to have the opportunity to vote, and due to this new law, may become the group least likely to be allowed to cast an ordinary vote.Read More »Why the NT seat of Lingiari keeps being mentioned in the VoterID Debate