by-elections

What to Watch for with the NSW By-elections

It’s Saturday 12 February 2022, by-election day in NSW.

It’s not often you get four by-elections caused by such high profile departures from parliament, three former party leaders including a former Premier, Deputy Premier and Opposition Leader, and a former senior cabinet member.

The four by-elections with links to my ABC election guide for each are

I’m involved in the ABC’s live coverage of the results from 6pm on ABC news channel. You can also follow the results at the ABC elections site where I will add some relevant commentary when I’m not too busy with the television coverage.Read More »What to Watch for with the NSW By-elections

2022 NSW By-elections – Tracking the Early Vote

The four NSW by-elections for Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby are being conducted under rules where every voter is automatically being sent ballot papers in a postal vote pack.

You can find my guide to the by-elections at the ABC Elections site. Each page now includes candidate how-to-vote material.

In this post I will keep track of the number of pre-poll votes cast and the number of postal votes returned before polling day. As I explain inside this post, the rate of postal voting is certain to be very high given this automatic send out of postal vote packs. Voters can still vote pre-poll or vote on polling day, but many are certain to use the ballot papers sent to them.

Observation – In the final week of voting you would normally see a surge in pre-poll voting. That hasn’t happened with these by-elections. Pre-poll voting increased each day in week one of voting, but there has been no increase in the per day rate in week two. That voters were receiving postal vote packs last week has almost certainly caused some voters to use their postal vote rather than attend pre-polling. As polling day nears, the number of postals returned has begun to surge.

The rates of pre-poll and postal voting by Friday 11 February on the completion of pre-poll voting:
Bega – 29.4% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 21.3% returned a postal vote
Monaro – 23.1% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 15.3% returned a postal vote
Strathfield – 16.3% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 26.4% returned a postal vote
Willoughby – 9.6% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 28.1% returned a postal vote

Inside this post I breakdown the pre-polls and postals by electorate by day and compare them to the equivalent rates in 2019. I also explain the rules under which the election is being conducted, and also the changed counting procedures for the by-election.

Update on Counting Procedures – Postal votes envelopes will be processed in the week after the election, but there will be no counting of postal votes until Saturday 19 February.

It is important to stress that this all postal election is not available for the Federal election or the looming South Australian election. Both those elections will allow more voters to apply for postal votes, but full postal mail-outs aren’t an option for either election.
Read More »2022 NSW By-elections – Tracking the Early Vote

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?
Read More »2020 Groom By-election – Rates of Pre-Poll and Postal Voting

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