Kalgoorlie – Changing Boundaries, Changing Votes

Kalgoorlie was one of the Western Australian regional seats whose politics was upended by the introduction of one-vote one-value electoral boundaries. As was also the case with Albany and Geraldton, a small urban seat suddenly expanded to include rural areas. And in the case of Kalgoorlie, to include vast remote districts.

It wasn’t just new boundaries that changed the political complexion of Kalgoorlie. Labor had already lost the seat in 2001 as the result of a decline in Labor support that began in the 1980s.

(This post is an extract from the Kalgoorlie page of my 2021 WA Election guide. You can find the full electorate profile here.)

Read More »Kalgoorlie – Changing Boundaries, Changing Votes

Western Australian Election Site Updates

(This post is being updated most days. See inside post for details)

My 2021 Western Australian Election Website has been published on the ABC website. While published at the start of campaign, the site continues to have material added to it on a daily basis.

As an experiment, I’m going to maintain this post as a daily log of updates.

For anyone who wants to submit candidate information for the site, don’t send it through this blog. Please use the ABC elections e-mail link.

Wednesday 3 March

Read More »Western Australian Election Site Updates

The Battle for Albany

Before discussing the battle for Albany, I’ll give a plug for my 2021 Western Australian election guide that is now available on the ABC website.

The guide has all the usual bells and whistles, backgrounds on all seats, maps with 2017 polling place results, background on candidates, and indexes by candidate name, electorate name and electorate margin. The site is not static and is updated on a daily basis. Full lists of candidates will be added after the release of nominations on 12 February, and upper house calculators will be launched once group voting tickets have been lodged.

But back to this post’s subject – Albany. It is almost an anti-bellwether seat, having been retained by Labor for two decades, against all state-wide trends, almost entirely due to the personal vote of sitting Labor MLA Peter Watson.

Watson is retiring at the 2021 election. Albany is Labor’s 10th most marginal seat with a margin on 5.9%. Without Watson, can Labor hold Albany?Read More »The Battle for Albany

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

2019 SA Senate Election Part 2 – the Preference Distribution

Part 1 of my post on the 2019 SA Senate election analysed how voters completed their ballot papers under the new Senate system, how preferences flowed between parties and what was the impact of how-to-votes.

This post will be more descriptive in summarising the formal distribution of preferences. It highlights major exclusions and distributions during the count and comments on differences with how the count might have unfolded had the abolished group voting ticket system still been in place.
Read More »2019 SA Senate Election Part 2 – the Preference Distribution

2019 SA Senate Election – Ballot Paper and Preferences Analysis (Part 1)

This is my latest (and much delayed) post looking at the Senate’s new electoral system, how it worked at 2019 election, how voters completed their ballot papers, and what was the influence of how-to-vote material.

This post on South Australian is my first on a six-member Senate contest. The two previous posts in this series, on the ACT Senate race and the Northern Territory Senate race, dealt with elections for two Senators and were two-party preferred races.

At the start of 2020 I published two other posts with broad overviews of the 2019 result. The first looked at the breakdown of above and below the line voting and the number of preference completed. The second looked at measures of performance, why the new system produced different results to past Senate elections. In particular, it compared the 2019 result with the 2013 half-Senate election, the last conducted using the now abolished group voting tickets.

Part 2 of this post tracks the formal distribution of preferences for the South Australian Senate. The Part 1 post below provides a more detailed analysis of preferences based on examining the electronic ballot papers.
Read More »2019 SA Senate Election – Ballot Paper and Preferences Analysis (Part 1)

Filling all the BTL Squares – Incidence at the 2019 SA Senate Election

As promised, here’s one of my occasional Graph of the Day posts on something I’m currently researching.

How many people voting below-the-line (BTL) on Senate ballot papers go on to fill in all the squares? Here’s the answer in a graph using South Australian Senate data from the 2019 Federal election.Read More »Filling all the BTL Squares – Incidence at the 2019 SA Senate Election

Updating the Parties Registered to Contest the 2021 Western Australian Election

News 2 FebruaryMy election guide for the WA election has now been published.

Updates

5 February – the proposal to re-name “Daylight Saving Party” as “Daylight Saving Party – the National Liberals” with ballot paper abbreviation “National Liberals” was rejected.
2 February – the first of the contentious name change applications has been approved. The Flux Party will now appear on ballot papers as ‘Liberals for Climate’.
29 January – registration of Great Australian Party and Legalise Cannabis Western Australia Party approved.
19 January – the Small Business Party name change to WAXit Party has been approved.
13 January – the No Mandatory Vaccination Party has now been registered.


In December 2020 I published posts on controversial applications to change the names of two Western Australian political parties. Both applications are attempts by minor parties to adopt ballot paper party names that could easily be confused with the Liberal Party.

The first post dealt with an application by Flux the System! to appear on ballot papers as Liberals for Climate. The second was an application by the Daylight Saving Party to appear on ballot papers as the National Liberals. There is also a good article on the applications on the ABC News site.

Both changes, plus applications to register new parties, indicate that WA voters are set to face large upper house ballot papers from a record number of registered parties. It’s all part of a typical preference harvesting strategy by minor and micro-parties, still possible in Western Australia as the state continues to use group ticket voting to elect the Legislative Council.

Such arranged preference deals were abolished federally with reform of the Senate’s electoral system in 2016.

To keep track of what’s going on as the WA election approaches, I’ll use this post to follow the late rush of applications to change and/or register parties.
Read More »Updating the Parties Registered to Contest the 2021 Western Australian Election

More Party Name Change Nonsense Ahead of the Western Australian election

Update: The proposal to re-name the Daylight Saving Party was rejected by the WA Electoral Commission.

First it was Flux trying to re-name itself “Liberals for Climate”. (See the detail in this post)

Now it is the Daylight Saving Party trying to change its name to the “Daylight Saving Party – The National Liberals”.

What in my opinion is politically scandalous is the application attempts to adopt “National Liberals” as the party name that will appear on the ballot paper.

So not only is the party trying to confuse voters looking for the Liberal or National parties on the Legislative Council ballot paper, but wants to adopt a name that does not let voters know the party’s one big policy, to introduce daylight saving in Western Australia. Voters in Western Australian have rejected daylight saving at four referendums over the past 50 years.

In my opinion, adopting “National Liberals” as the new party name to appear on the ballot paper instead of “Daylight Saving Party” is a clear attempt to mis-lead voters as to the party’s identity and policies.
Read More »More Party Name Change Nonsense Ahead of the Western Australian election

Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting

In the final week of parliamentary sittings, Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath tabled the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM’s) inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 Federal election. (You can find the report here.)

One of the controversial proposals in the report, and one opposed by Labor and Green members of JSCEM, was a recommendation to move from full or compulsory preferential voting (CPV) to optional preferential voting (OPV) for House of Representatives elections.

The report provides few arguments in favour of OPV. The recommendation for OPV appears suddenly at the end of a brief discussion on informal voting, in particular noting the impact OPV’s use at NSW elections has on informal voting at Federal elections. Senate McGrath presented a different argument for OPV when tabling the JSCEM report in the Senate, referring to OPV as a measure “to maximise voter choice”.

I’ve written on OPV many time previously, and I would suggest reading this post I wrote in 2013 after a previous suggestion from the Coalition about introducing OPV.

Informal voting will always be higher under compulsory preferential voting because ballot papers with faulty numbering have few options for salvation available. This compares with OPV where ballot papers with incomplete, duplicate or missing numbers, or completed with a single tick or cross, can count for candidates to the extent that a voter’s intent is clear.Read More »Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting