Is Increasing the Membership Requirement to Register Political Parties Justified?

The government’s proposed changes to party registration rules, released last week, will increase the number of members required to register a political party from 500 to 1,500. Understandably this proposal has attracted criticism, especially from the small parties that will now have to recruit more members.

I posted on Thursday about this and other proposed changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Is this just an attack on small parties, or is it a justifiable attempt to make Senate ballot papers easier for voters to read and understand, and for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to print and count?Read More »Is Increasing the Membership Requirement to Register Political Parties Justified?

Proposed Electoral Act changes for the 2022 Federal Election

Assistant Minister for Electoral Matters, Ben Morton, introduced four bills today to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act ahead of next year’s Federal election.

It’s important to say first that the bills do not include controversial proposals to introduce voter ID and optional preferential voting. Those were put forward by LNP Senator James McGrath in the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ (JSCEM’s) review of the 2019 election.

The bills also do not include any of JSCEM’s recent proposals to change the Electoral Act to deal with holding elections in a period when Covid is widespread or lockdowns are in place. Presumably any changes related to Covid will be introduced closer to the election.

These bills introduce a number of changes to counting procedures, party registration, non-party campaign expenditure, multiple voters and other campaigning offences. Some of the changes are more controversial than others, so the changes have been split into four bills.

The most controversial changes concern party registration, and splitting the changes avoids the problem where important changes in an omnibus amendment bill are delayed by more controversial parts of the bill.

Below is my summary of the proposed changes with links to the source documents on the bills.
Read More »Proposed Electoral Act changes for the 2022 Federal Election

2022 Federal Electoral Pendulum

With redistributions of electoral boundaries now complete for Victoria and Western Australia, it is time to publish an updated electoral pendulum for the 2022 election.

The redistributions have abolished the WA Liberal seat of Stirling and created the new notionally Labor held seat of Hawke in Victoria. (See my previous posts on the redistributions, in Victoria here and Western Australia here.)

Compared to the 2019 election result, the changes reduce the Coalition from 77 to 76 seats and lift Labor from 68 to 69 seats. In the 151 member House of Representatives, 76 seats are needed for majority government.

As well as the web formatted pendulum inside this post, I’ve prepared a well laid out printable ‘pdf’ version with seats listed in double-sided A4 format. You can find it at this link.
Read More »2022 Federal Electoral Pendulum

2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Western Australia

The draft Federal electoral boundaries for Western Australia released in March were finalised at the end of June.

Today the supporting documentation has been published, including the the new maps and enrolment data. That allows me to calculate estimated margins for the new boundaries. There are only minor changes compared to the draft boundaries released in March.

The overall summary of the redistribution’s impact is that the Liberal held division of Stirling has been abolished. This has caused major changes to the boundaries of Cowan, Pearce and Hasluck, with smaller changes propagating across the rest of the state.

The re-drawn electorate of Cowan includes a roughly equal number of voters from the old Cowan and the abolished Stirling. Pearce has been completely re-arranged, losing its former rural component to Durack and O’Connor, and the rapidly growing suburban areas around Ellenbrook to Hasluck. Pearce is now based entirely in Perth’s northern suburbs. Read More »2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Western Australia

2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Victoria

Draft Federal electoral boundaries were released in March and finalised at the end of June.

Today the supporting documentation, the maps and enrolment data, have been published which allows me to publish estimated margins for the finalised boundaries.

There were two changes of significance from the draft boundaries. Most of the proposed suburb swaps between Macnamara and Higgins have been reversed, and the proposal to re-name Corangamite as Tucker has also been abandoned.

The overall summary of the redistribution is that all 38 continuing seats remain held by the party that won the division in 2019, and the newly created 39th division is called Hawke and is a safe Labor seat.Read More »2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Victoria

How the Liberals stopped No Mandatory Vaccination Winning a Seat in the WA Legislative Council

The victory of the Daylight Saving Party’s Wilson Tucker from only 98 votes at March’s WA Legislative Council election has attracted much attention and derision. It has also become the justification for the McGowan government’s plans to reform the Legislative Council’s electoral system.

But Tucker’s victory was not the only example in March of group voting tickets being used to engineer results. In South Metropolitan Region, a well co-ordinated preference “harvesting” operation almost delivered the final seat in the region to Cam Tinley of the No Mandatory Vaccination Party.

These examples highlight how the manipulation of group voting tickets (GVTs) by the tactic of preference harvesting can distort the intent of voters. Voters for 19 of the 26 party and independent groups on the ballot paper had their votes delivered by GVTs to Cam Tinley.

That’s more than 40,000 voters with no idea their above-the-line vote for a chosen party or independent would be sent off to try an elect a representative from the No Mandatory Vaccination Party.

The only thing that prevented Cam Tinley beating the Green’s Brad Pettitt was a decision announced early in the campaign by the Liberal Party that it would put No Mandatory Vaccination behind Labor and the Greens on how-to-votes and upper house GVTs.

At the very end of the South Metropolitan Region count, that decision sent around 12,200 Liberal GVT preferences Pettitt’s way, delivering the Greens a seat that could otherwise would have gone to No Mandatory Vaccination. None of the 20 parties that contributed to Tinley’s final tally polled more than 1.9% of the vote, and 11 polled less than half a percent.

Despite these parties attracting few votes, GVTs delivered their preference negotiators total control over how ballot papers would have their preferences transferred. It allowed party votes to be stacked in a way that would have been impossible if voters controlled how preference were distributed.Read More »How the Liberals stopped No Mandatory Vaccination Winning a Seat in the WA Legislative Council

When can the Next Federal Election be Held?

On Twitter recently, the most frequent question I am asked is when “can” the next federal election be held. Second place goes to when “will” the election be held.

This post attempts to answer both questions.

The three-part answer on “when can” the election be held is –

  • The first date for a normal house and half-Senate election is 7 August 2021, if announced this weekend and writs are issued by Monday 5 July.
  • The last date for a normal house and half-Senate election is 21 May 2022. This date gives six weeks to complete the complex Senate count and allows Senators to be declared elected and start their terms on 1 July. A mid-May election would be announced in early April 2022.
  • 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.

The short answer on “when will” the election be held is –

  • when the Prime Minister thinks his government has the best chance of winning, or
  • if prospects look grim, the last possible date.

Read More »When can the Next Federal Election be Held?

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

Analysis of Preference Flows at the Upper Hunter By-election

The NSW Upper Hunter by-election on 22 May was notable for the unusually low first preference vote for the two major parties. The Nationals polled 31.2%, Labor 21.2%, with the combined vote for the other 11 candidates an unusually high 47.6%.

The by-election was conducted under NSW’s optional preferential voting rules and 63.4% of other candidate ballot papers exhausted their preferences before reaching one of the final two candidates. At the end of the count, exhausted ballot papers represented 30.2% of the first preference vote.

With ballot paper data from the by-election now published, it is possible to examine more closely the two-party preferred flows of preferences from excluded candidates, to determine how many preferences voters completed, and to measure the influence of how-to-vote recommendations on preference flows.Read More »Analysis of Preference Flows at the Upper Hunter By-election