Convenience Voting

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.
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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?
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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

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

Should we Count Pre-poll votes before 6pm on Election Day?

The last decade has seen a dramatic surge in pre-poll voting at both state and federal elections. At the 2007 Federal election, just 8.3% of votes were cast as pre-polls. Twelve years later that figure had quadrupled to 32.3%.

In 2007 80.0% of votes were ordinary polling day votes, in 2019 just 54.5%. Without the efforts of a horde of additional staff brought in to count pre-polls late into the evening, few recent elections would have produced a clear winner on election night.

The growth of pre-poll voting has altered the flow of results on election night. By 9pm most polling places have reported their results, but count completion for some of the country’s largest pre-poll centres can take several hours longer. It was pre-poll votes as much as the closeness of result that pushed coverage of the last two Federal elections into the early hours of Sunday morning.

This has led to calls for pre-poll counting to commence before 6pm on election day, something that is currently illegal. The call has come from several electoral authorities, including the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). It has also been suggested by some state political parties.

Is this a good idea? In my view the answer is unambiguously yes, as long as the results of pre-poll vote counts remain secret until after the close of polling at 6pm.

Read More »Should we Count Pre-poll votes before 6pm on Election Day?