Convenience Voting

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 SA Election – Pre-Poll and Postal Voting Rates

The final figures for pre-poll and postal votes were as follows –

  • 29.9% of enrolled voters have either applied for a postal vote or cast a pre-poll vote.
  • 208,136 pre-poll votes have been cast representing 16.4% of enrolment. This is a 75% increase on the 120,468 pre-polls taken in 2018 representing 10.0% of enrolment. There were 35,820 on the final Friday of pre-polling.
  • There were 170,081 postal vote applications including around 25,000 permanent postal voters. This is twice the 82,213 applications in 2018 (not including 20,00 permanent postal votes) representing 6.8% of enrolment. Voters in Covid isolation can collect a postal vote pack from Covid testing centres which may add a few thousand extra postal votes.

Unlike every other Australian jurisdiction, Pre-Poll and Postal votes cannot be counted on election night in South Australia. The higher the rate of pre-poll and postal voting, the fewer the votes available for counting on election night and the lower the likelihood we will know the winners on election night.

In this post I explain the rate of pre-poll and postal voting at previous South Australian elections. I also provide charts of the rate of pre-poll voting by day, and the rate of postal and pre-poll voting by electoral district.

Most urban electorates should record a 50-60% vote count on election night which should be enough to call most seats. The seat with the lowest on the day vote will include Finniss (35%), Mount Gambier (45%), and Hartley, Colton, Stuart and Hammond under 50%.
Read More »2022 SA Election – Pre-Poll and Postal Voting Rates

2022 NSW By-elections – Tracking the Early Vote

The four NSW by-elections for Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby are being conducted under rules where every voter is automatically being sent ballot papers in a postal vote pack.

You can find my guide to the by-elections at the ABC Elections site. Each page now includes candidate how-to-vote material.

In this post I will keep track of the number of pre-poll votes cast and the number of postal votes returned before polling day. As I explain inside this post, the rate of postal voting is certain to be very high given this automatic send out of postal vote packs. Voters can still vote pre-poll or vote on polling day, but many are certain to use the ballot papers sent to them.

Observation – In the final week of voting you would normally see a surge in pre-poll voting. That hasn’t happened with these by-elections. Pre-poll voting increased each day in week one of voting, but there has been no increase in the per day rate in week two. That voters were receiving postal vote packs last week has almost certainly caused some voters to use their postal vote rather than attend pre-polling. As polling day nears, the number of postals returned has begun to surge.

The rates of pre-poll and postal voting by Friday 11 February on the completion of pre-poll voting:
Bega – 29.4% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 21.3% returned a postal vote
Monaro – 23.1% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 15.3% returned a postal vote
Strathfield – 16.3% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 26.4% returned a postal vote
Willoughby – 9.6% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 28.1% returned a postal vote

Inside this post I breakdown the pre-polls and postals by electorate by day and compare them to the equivalent rates in 2019. I also explain the rules under which the election is being conducted, and also the changed counting procedures for the by-election.

Update on Counting Procedures – Postal votes envelopes will be processed in the week after the election, but there will be no counting of postal votes until Saturday 19 February.

It is important to stress that this all postal election is not available for the Federal election or the looming South Australian election. Both those elections will allow more voters to apply for postal votes, but full postal mail-outs aren’t an option for either election.
Read More »2022 NSW By-elections – Tracking the Early Vote

Party Vote by Vote Type – 2018 Victorian Election

Back with another graph of the day post.

Every election held in Australia post the arrival of Covid-19 has seen a sharp decline in voting on election day and a surge in postal and especially pre-poll voting.

Last October’s Queensland election saw only 27.6% of votes cast as within-district polling day votes, with 43.6% of votes cast as pre-polls and 23.8% as postal vote. (See this post)

March 2021 saw a similar surge in Western Australia with polling day ordinary votes falling to 38.0% compared to 40.2% for pre-poll votes and 14.8% as postal votes. (See this post)

At the November 2018 Victorian election, polling day ordinary votes represented only 48.3% of all votes, the first Australian state election where less than half of votes were cast on the day in district. The rate of Early/Pre-poll voting was 36.8%, then the highest recorded at an Australian election, having quadrupled in 12 years.

Given the trend to voting before polling day has been stronger in Victoria than anywhere else, and given the state’s experience with Covid-19, one can only guess how low the rate of polling day voting will be at the 2022 state election.

The graph below shows the percentage vote by vote type at Victorian elections since 2006.Read More »Party Vote by Vote Type – 2018 Victorian Election

Early Voting at Tasmanian Elections

UPDATE 23 April – One week before the election, 26,000 postal packs have been dispatched with the date for applications now having passed. This is only slightly up on the 24,676 in 2018. 18,000 pre-poll votes have been taken, only half the number in 2018, but the last week of the campaign is when most pre-poll votes are cast.

Original post
Rising rates of early voting have been a phenomena at elections across Australia for the last decade, with the rate of early voting boosted further since the emergence of Covid-19 a year ago.

Elections held since the emergence of Covid-19 have seen fewer than 40% of voters turn up to vote on election day, exaggerating the pre-pandemic trend to voting early.

At last October’s Queensland election, ordinary votes cast in a voter’s home district on polling day represented only 27.6% of all votes, down more than half from 57.2% in 2017. Postal votes doubled from 10.7% to 23.8% and rates of pre-poll voting rose from 26.2% to 43.8%.

Exact figures are not available for the Western Australian election but point to less than 40% of votes being cast on election day, and there were similar low rates at last year’s ACT and Northern Territory elections, and the Eden-Monaro and Groom federal by-elections.

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) has not adopted the strategy of its brethren Electoral Commissions in vigorously encouraging early voting. Both Pre-poll and Postal voting are readily available, but with no community transmission of Covid in Tasmania, on health advice the TEC has decided there is no reason to discourage polling day voting.

There has been a rise in pre-poll voting at recent Tasmanian elections, but its incidence remains much lower than elsewhere.

At the 2018 Tasmanian election, 74.6% of votes were within district polling day ordinary votes. The figure was down from 80.8% in 2010 and 89.2% in 1992. The graph below shows the rates for each category of non-ordinary votes at Tasmanian elections since 1992.Read More »Early Voting at Tasmanian Elections

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

Early Voting at Western Australian Elections

As has been the case at other elections held in the last year, the 2021 Western Australian election will see major changes in when people vote.

As at the Northern Territory, ACT and Queensland elections in 2020, the WA Electoral Commission has responded to Covid-19 by actively encouraging voters to take advantage of postal and pre-poll voting options ahead of the state’s official polling day on Saturday 13 March.

As with every other Australian jurisdiction, the last decade has seen Western Australians move away from voting on election day. At the 2017 election, only 64.1% of votes were cast on polling day compared to 85.5% two decades ago.

Chart 1 below shows the percentage of formal votes cast in each vote category at WA elections since 1989.
Read More »Early Voting at Western Australian 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 Queensland Election – Results by Vote Type

The great unknown ahead of the 2020 Queensland election concerned what change in voting patterns would we see as a result of holding an election during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tracking the postal and pre-poll figures before the election revealed a huge increase in postal and pre-poll voting as a proportion of enrolment. Now we know the votes cast, that trend shows up in the results.

Politically Labor did much better with pre-poll and postal voting than it did in 2017. But with much greater numbers in both categories of votes, the improvement may just reflect more Labor voters voting early.
Read More »2020 Queensland Election – Results by Vote Type

2020 Queensland Election – Tracking the Early Vote

In this post I will keep track of the Queensland election postal and pre-poll vote totals.

Polling day update At least 320,000 postal votes will be counted after 6pm on election night along with around 925,000 pre-poll votes.

Pre-poll Final Update including Friday 30 October – another 168,070 pre-poll votes were taken on Friday, the final day of pre-polling and the most taken on any day. The total of pre-polls is 1,288,696 or 38.2% of enrolled voters. On top of these numbers, another 26.8% of electors have been sent postal vote packs, see details below. Not all postal votes are returned, some are returned late and some are rejected because of problems with details on the envelope. Some people who have requested a postal vote end up voting pre-poll or turn up on election day.

The final Thursday and Friday of pre-polling saw the most votes recorded, though the late surge was not as prominent as at the Eden-Monaro by-election and the ACT election.

As many postal and pre-poll votes as possible will be counted on election night. Pre-poll votes cast within district will be counted on election night, roughly 75% of the total, will be available for counting on election night. The number of postal votes to be counted will depend on how many are returned and have their envelopes processed before the weekend.

(Updated 10:30am 31 Oct) A total of 905,806 postal vote packs have been dispatched, a total that represents 26.8% of enrolment. As of 6pm Friday evening, 571,095 postal envelopes have been returned, a return rate of 63% and representing 16.9% of enrolment. Pre-processing of returned envelopes has begun, 329,334 envelopes having admitted to the count for opening and counting on election night, representing 9.8% of enrolment. More envelopes may be admitted to the count during the day on polling day. This is a high before polling day rate of return for postal votes, no doubt due to registration for postal votes closing two weeks before polling day on 16 October. This means the number of outstanding postal votes arriving after polling day will be lower than in the past.

The table of postal votes by electorate in this post has been updated to include the return rate. Read More »2020 Queensland Election – Tracking the Early Vote