Dunkley By-election – Tracking the Early Vote

In this post I will track the rate of pre-poll voting, postal vote application and postal vote return rates for the Dunkley by-election. Polling day is Saturday 2 March.

I’ll put headline figures here at the top of the post each day and graph daily voting rates inside the post.

Saturday 2 March (Final figures)

  • At the end of the pre-poll voting period, total of 29,928 pre-poll votes were taken representing 26.4% of enrolment. This compares to 30,395 votes or 27.2% of enrolment in 2022. The 2022 figure has been adjusted to exclude out-of-district pre-polls. There were 6,247 pre-polls taken on the final day compared to 5,159 on the same day in 2022.
  • A total of 21,983 postal vote applications were received representing 19.4% of enrolment. So far 15,434 postal votes have been returned representing 13.6% of enrolment or 70.2% of applications.
  • The number of pre-polls taken at the three Pre-Poll Voting Centres is Carrum Down 12,957, Frankston 12,468 and Mount Eliza 4,503.
  • In person pre-poll voting at in district centres has finished at 98.5% of the 2022 Federal election level. The final figure for the Aston by-election was 82.4% and for Fadden 78.5% so the pre-polls don’t point to a significantly lower turnout in Dunkley. I have excluded out-of-district pre-polls from the calculations as they only exist at general elections.
  • The overall turnout figure for the Aston by-election was 85.6%, down from 92.5% at the 2022 election, and for Fadden 72.5% down from 86.5%. The Dunkley turnout at the 2022 Federal election was 90.1%.

The total figures for Dunkley at the 2022 election were –

  • Adjusting for out-of-district pre-polls, there were 30,395 pre-poll votes taken in Dunkley at the 2022 election, representing 27.2% of enrolment or 30.2% of total votes.
  • There were 22,221 applications for postal votes representing 19.9% of enrolment. 16,625 postal votes had returned by polling day, a return rate of 74.8%. By the closing date for receipt of postal votes, 18,430 had been received, a return rate of 82.9%.
  • Returned postal votes represented 16.5% of enrolment. Postal votes admitted to the count represented 18.3% of the total vote in 2022.

The above chart compares the number of pre-poll votes taken by day at the by-election compared to the same day at the 2022 election.

The above chart shows pre-poll votes by day expressed as a percentage of enrolment. The by-election is compared to the same figures in Dunkley at the 2019 and 2022 Federal elections, excluding out-of-district pre-polls. Note there was an extra week of pre-polling at the 2019 election and an extra pre-poll centre. The cumulative figures are shown below.

The next chart shows the percentage of electors who have applied for a postal vote, and the percentage of electors who have returned a postal vote. The number of postal votes being dispatched slows as polling day approaches and the number of completed postal votes returned increases.

Finally as reference, the stacked bar chart below shows votes by type recorded at elections for Dunkley since 1993. Note that the pre-poll figure is lower in the graph below because it only includes pre-poll votes for Dunkley, not pre-poll votes taken in Dunkley.

5 thoughts on “Dunkley By-election – Tracking the Early Vote”

  1. I get very frustrated with Australian elections in general that we have to wait so long for all the votes to be counted and ratified. I am expecting a close result either way in Dunkley with the margin more than likely less than 2000 votes. So I don’t think there will be a clear result on the night. A few weeks there was 2 by-elections in the UK. The results are declared on the night. Granted the UK use first past the past so its a bit simpler. But at least we know the result relatively quickly. Strangely I have lived in the electorates in the 2 by elections in the uk and also Dunkley.

    COMMENT: The issue is that the UK is one of the only countries in the world where ballot boxes are sealed and removed from polling places on the night and taken to a central counting centre for counting and declaration. Votes not in the hands of the Returning Officer on the night aren’t included so postal votes must be returned by 10pm on election night. Precinct voting also means there is no Absent or Pre-Poll in person voting. Everything is designed around the votes being at one venue for the count followed by the declaration. Simple majority voting simplifies the count.

    In almost every other country in the world, votes are counted where cast and reported to the Returning Officer. The election night count is subsequently verified. Australian states stopped election night declarations before Federation as the size of electorates made it simply impossible to use the UK procedures.

  2. Antony,

    Just wanted to add something regarding the Langwarrin polling place swing that wasn’t quite.

    As you know, once the ballot papers are checked for formality, they get counted into bundles (usually 100’s) and a leftover pile. You then count the bundles to work out the total number.

    What I suspect happened, is that one or more of the counted Labor bundles accidentally got put in the Liberal bundles pile. You noted a figure of 150; though I don’t know if that was the exact number. So that easily could have been a 100 and a 50 bundle. Or maybe the manager counted in 50’s for some reason, so 3 of them.

    It wasn’t picked up as a “mistake” because the number of ballot papers still reconciled to the starting figure. It did get noticed by you and others as a maybe outlier, which was then found during the check count.


  3. Antony, I notice that Labor is now only 22 votes behind in postal votes in Dunkley & if the late trend continues will win postals. It’s hard to make any assumptions about anything right now?

    COMMENT: I’ve been updating the postal vote figures on my Dunkley Commentary page and noted the trend. At this stage there are only 91 postal votes uncounted and the won’t be many more than that arrive before Friday so it is possible there aren’t enough votes left to change who wins the postals.

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