How to Manage the Eden-Monaro By-election in a time of Covid-19

(Update 25 May – the by-election date has been set for 4 July. You can check my guide to the Eden-Monaro by-election over at the ABC Elections website.)

With the decision of Labor’s Mike Kelly to resign from Parliament, there will need to be a by-election held in his marginal seat of Eden-Monaro.

With a margin of just 0.9%, and with NSW Deputy Premier and well-known local state MP John Barilaro tipped to contest the by-election, Labor will have a fight on its hands to retain the seat. This despite the fact that no government has taken a seat from the opposition in a century, not since the special circumstances of the Kalgoorlie by-election in 1920.

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, it may also be an unusual by-election. The Speaker has asked the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for advice on special procedures that may be needed to protect voters and staff.  The by-election may be delayed until after the toughest of the social distancing regulations have been eased.

A useful guide for Eden-Monaro will be the Queensland local government elections, held on 28 March as Covid-19 restrictions mounted. There were significant changes to the conduct of polling by both Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) staff and by party campaign workers. It changed the way electors voted, how scrutineers observed the count and how results were reported.

At the time there were calls for the elections to be deferred as a public health risk. The elections went ahead and there has been no spike of Covid-19 cases in the aftermath.

But the expected surge in pre-poll voting has the potential to delay the release of Eden-Monaro election results. Is Eden-Monaro an opportunity to test procedures for counting pre-poll votes under secure conditions before 6pm on polling day?

Read More »How to Manage the Eden-Monaro By-election in a time of Covid-19

Exposing a Rubbish Statistic – there were more Labor than Liberal voters at the 2019 Federal election

The Morrison government was re-elected in 2019 with a three seat majority. The government won 77 seats in the 151 seat House of Representatives against 68 Labor and six crossbench members. The Coalition recorded 51.53% of the national two-party preferred vote and gained a 1.17% swing in its favour. The Coalition also improved its position in the Senate, gaining several seats that had been won by small right-of-centre parties at the 2016 double dissolution election.

Labor recorded its lowest first preference vote in more than 80 years, a lower vote than on the defeat of the Rudd government in 2013. The Labor Party accepted that it lost the election, the party’s postmortem largely blaming its own policy and campaign failures for the defeat. One external factor it did highlight was how much Clive Palmer was allowed to spend on advertising.

Yet some in the twittersphere have not accepted the legitimacy of the Morrison government’s victory. They put forward various arguments about why the government didn’t or shouldn’t have won.

Read More »Exposing a Rubbish Statistic – there were more Labor than Liberal voters at the 2019 Federal election

2019 ACT Senate Election – Analysis of Preferences

This is the second in my series looking at how the Senate’s new electoral system worked. This post is on the ACT, which like the Northern Territory, has only two Senators. Both Senators face the electorate every three years in terms tied to the term of the House of Representatives. (See my previous post on the Northern Territory for an explanation of territory Senators.)

(My earlier overall analysis of Senate voting can be found in this post.)

Like the Northern Territory, the ACT has returned the same party representation at every election since 1975. Every ACT Senate election has elected one Labor and one Liberal Senator. With the quota for election set at 33.3% quota, support for a major party would have to be well short of this vote to miss out on a seat.

(Hint – if you are viewing this post on a mobile phone, the tables look much better if you turn your phone sideways.)

Read More »2019 ACT Senate Election – Analysis of Preferences

Final Analysis of the 2020 Brisbane City Council Elections

Counting for the Brisbane City Council’s election is now complete (barring some minor tidy ups), so it’s time for a statistical analysis of the results.

In brief the election produced little change. All 26 wards and the Lord Mayoral contest were won by the same party as in 2016. After replacing Graham Quirk as Lord Mayor last year, Adrian Schrinner was easily re-elected with 56.3% after preferences, a 3.2% swing against him.

The new council has only two changes of membership with the LNP’s Sarah Hutton succeeding Matthew Bourke in Jamboree, and the LNP’s Greg Adermann defeating LNP turned Independent councillor Kate Richards in Pullenvale.

You can find results for all contests at the ABC election website. In this post I will concentrate on the overall picture.

(UPDATE – slight adjustments to include final figures in Calamvale, Hamilton and in the Lord Mayoral race)

(HINT: If you are reading this on a mobile phone, the tables and graphs are infinitely better if you turn your phone sideways.)
Read More »Final Analysis of the 2020 Brisbane City Council Elections

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?

Running Post on 2020 Brisbane City Council Elections and Bundamba and Currumbin State By-elections

(FINAL UPDATE – for analysis of the final results of the Brisbane City Council elections, see the summary in this post.)

Welcome to my running blog on the results of the Brisbane City Council elections along with the Bundamba and Currumbin state by-elections. I’m supervising the ABC’s normal results site which you can find at at this link. The Lord Mayoral race, the two by-elections, and the 26 Council wards are included in the list of contests.

If you are after results for any other Queensland council, visit the Electoral Commission Queensland’s website.Read More »Running Post on 2020 Brisbane City Council Elections and Bundamba and Currumbin State By-elections

Greens Preference Against Labor in Johnston By-Election

In what is a rare move, the Greens have chosen to direct preferences against Labor at the Northern Territory’s Johnston by-election, to be held on Saturday 29 February.

In the past the Greens have often chosen to make no preference recommendation, but to actively recommend preferences to conservative parties ahead of Labor is very unusual.

The decision is attracting a lot of attention to an otherwise obscure local by-election in an electorate of just 4,988 voters in the northern suburbs of Darwin. If you are after more information on the Johnston by-election, check my background page at the ABC’s Election website.

The decision has started arguments back and forth between Labor and Green partisans, but i’ll leave it to participants to argue the subjective point of whether the decision is right or wrong in policy and/or strategic terms.

But that leaves plenty of room to examine whether the decision is important to how preferences will flow, to the result of the Johnston by-election, and to the Northern Territory election in August.

Update At the by-election, 56.9% of Green voters gave preferences, around 20 percentage points lower than the usual flow of Green preferences. You can find my commentary on the result and preferences at my Johnston by-election page.
Read More »Greens Preference Against Labor in Johnston By-Election

2019 Northern Territory Redistribution

(UPDATE: My guide to the 2020 Northern Territory Election has now been published on the ABC Election website.)

The Northern Territory goes to the polls on 22 August this year with the Gunner Labor government seeking re-election against the backdrop of a stagnant local economy and problems with the Territory’s public finances.

While this will be a tough environment for a first term government, Labor is helped by the weakened state of the opposition Country Liberal Party after its spectacular ejection from office in 2016.

The 2020 election will be fought on new electoral boundaries released last September. On paper the boundaries cost Labor a seat, but also boost the party’s prospects in two marginal seats.

But margins matter little in the Northern Territory given the average enrolment per electorate is only 5,500. This creates geographically huge electorates in the sparsely populated outback, but tiny seats of a few dozen streets in Darwin and Palmerston. Candidate profile is as important as party vote in determining who wins seats in the Northern Territory, especially after redistributions.
Read More »2019 Northern Territory Redistribution

2019 Northern Territory Senate Election – Results and Preference Flows

Summary of findings

  • Preferences were not distributed in the NT, the lead Labor and CLP candidates declared elected on the first count.
  • At 19.5% the Northern Territory had the highest rate of voters going beyond six preferences above the line, four times the national average. This was helped by there being only nine ballot paper groups in the NT.
  • 77.7% of Green preferences reached Labor, but not by following the Green how-to-vote. Of all Green votes, 45.5% went to Labor as a second preference, another 21.3% at the third preference after giving a suggested second preference for HEMP.
  • United Australia Party (UAP) preferences favoured Labor, against the party’s how-to-vote recommendation for the CLP, largely because one in five UAP above-the-line votes were donkey votes.
  • On how-to-vote concordance, 16.0% of Labor voters followed the how-to-vote exactly compared to 10.3% for the CLP and 10.2% of the Greens. Green concordance rates were lowered by the 2nd preference being given to HEMP rather than Labor.
    Read More »2019 Northern Territory Senate Election – Results and Preference Flows

2019 Federal Election – Post-Election Pendulum

This post is unfinished business from the 2019 Federal election, setting out a post-election pendulum of the results. A pdf version arranged on two sides of an A4 page can be found via this link.

While this pendulum is current on publication in January 2020, new electoral boundaries will see it superseded before the next election, due to be held between August 2021 and May 2022.

Read More »2019 Federal Election – Post-Election Pendulum