elections

VIC22 Election – Northcote – Analysis of Preference Data

In seven districts at the Victorian election, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) conducted its check count of ballot papers by data entering each ballot’s preferences into a computer systems for verification and later the distribution of preferences.

In Melton, Point Cook and Werribee, data entry was adopted after the incorrect election night pairing of candidates was chosen for the indicative preference count. An additional justification was that each district had 14 or 15 candidates. Brighton, Hawthorn and Northcote were included in the trial, while Preston was added later in the count when it became apparent the distribution of preferences would be complex with potentially close contests at several exclusions.

The electronic versions of the ballot papers have been made available, and this will be the first of several posts where I pull apart the data to look at flows of preferences and the percentage of ballot papers that followed each party’s registered how-to-vote sequence.

For the district of Northcote, a seat where Labor defeated the Greens by just 184 votes, the key findings are –

  • The Liberal Party changed its preference recommendation in 2022 to place the Greens ahead of Labor. Of all Liberal ballot papers, 64.8% gave preferences to the Greens. The Liberal decision reversed the recommendation that Labor be put first last May at the Federal election when the local seat of Cooper saw Liberal preferences flow 68.3% to Labor. Clearly the Liberal Party’s choice of preference recommendation has a significant influence on preference flows.
  • In the two-candidate preferred count, 67.2% of preferences favoured the Greens over Labor, only voters for Family First favouring Labor.
  • In the two-party preferred count, 87.1% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal with massive difference in flows based on the ideological position of each excluded party.
  • Overall 29.4% of ballot papers exactly matched the how-to-vote of the chosen first preference party. By party the highest rates of how-to-vote concordance were Labor 38.3%, Liberal 28.3%, Greens 26.0%, Victorian Socialists 22.9% and the Freedom Party 17.8%. All other candidates saw rates of how-to-vote concordance under 10%, suggesting voters either ignored the recommendation or, more likely, never saw the candidate’s how-to-vote.

More detail with tables inside the post. Read More »VIC22 Election – Northcote – Analysis of Preference Data

Inclusive Gregory – another serious problem with the Victorian Legislative Council’s Electoral System

My criticism of Group Voting Tickets at upper house elections is well known, but in the past I have also criticised the formula used at Senate and the Victorian Legislative Council elections to distribute surplus-to-quota preferences.

I’ll get into the technical detail of the problem inside the post, but the problem is that Victoria uses the “Inclusive Gregory (IG)” method to determine how to distribute surplus-to-quota preferences.

This method weights the transfer of surplus-to-quota votes in favour of parties that have already elected members, and weights against parties with no elected members.

Essentially ballot papers that have already played a part in electing members are given greater weight than ballot papers that have elected nobody.

I wrote about this problem back in 2014 when the use of IG resulted in the election of an extra Labor MLC for Northern Victoria Region ahead of a Country Alliance candidate.

And the problem has reared its head again in 2022 in the count for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region.

The output of my ABC Legislative Council Calculator for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region reveals the problem. (The problem currently appears as outlined below but may change with further counting.)

As it currently appears, after the election of the Legalise Cannabis candidate Rachel Payne, the IG method causes her surplus to massively over-represent Labor’s preference tickets and under-represent ballot papers for the Greens and Legalise Cannabis.

This over-representation brings Liberal Democrat David Limbrick close to winning the final seat, and the only reason Limbrick is even close to election is the distortion caused by the IG method.Read More »Inclusive Gregory – another serious problem with the Victorian Legislative Council’s Electoral System

VIC22 – the Impact of the Liberal Party’s Change of Preference Recommendation

For the 2022 Victorian election, the Liberal Party has changed its position on whether Labor or the Greens should be listed first on the party’s how-to-vote (HTV) material.

Until the August 2010 Federal election, the traditional Liberal decision was to list the Greens ahead of Labor. At the 2010 Federal election, it was the Liberal preference recommendation that elected Greens’ candidate Adam Bandt as the new member Melbourne.

Some in the Liberal Party were unhappy that Liberal preferences were electing members of a party that Liberals labelled as more radical left than Labor.

The position was changed shortly afterwards and it was announced late in the 2010 Victorian state election campaign that Labor would be listed before the Greens on Liberals HTVs. That has been the party’s position in Victoria at state and Federal elections since.

In most seats the choice is entirely symbolic as Liberal preferences will not be distributed. But there are several inner-Melbourne seats where the Liberal candidate is traditionally excluded during the distribution of preferences. The Liberal decision could have an impact on several Labor-Green contests.

In this post I look at the record of preference flows before and after the Liberal switch on preferences. The question for 2022 is whether the new Liberal position will flip the flow of preference as dramatically as the 2010 decision. Will the decision change the result in any seats?

Read More »VIC22 – the Impact of the Liberal Party’s Change of Preference Recommendation

Tracking the Early Vote for the 2022 Victorian Election

Updated for voting on Thursday 24 November.

In this post I will track the rate of pre-poll voting and rate of postal vote application during the Victorian election campaign. The Victorian Electoral Commission is very helpful in publishing detailed daily figures on early voting.

Headline figures to Thursday 24 November are –

  • Just over 274k votes taken today. The final total is 1,908,400 votes or 43.4%. This compares to 1,389,980 votes or 33.6% of enrolment in 2018.
  • Postal vote applications have now closed. There have been 586,208 postal vote (early by post) applications processed representing 13.3% of enrolment compared to a total of 383,921 or 9.3% of enrolment in 2018. The 2022 postal % above has been re-calculated as I was using an incorrect total votes. The postal applications graph below has corrected percentages.
  • So far 272,779 postal votes have been returned representing 6.2% of enrolment or 46.5% of postal votes dispatched. There was no processing of postal envelopes on Friday. Instead all the counting went into verifying the previous day’s envelopes to allow them to be counted on Saturday night.
  • Both figures show a huge surge in early voting compared to 2018.

The total figures in 2018 were 1,389,980 pre-poll votes or 33.6% of enrolment, and 383,921 postal vote applications or 9.3% of enrolment. So after one week in 2022 there have already been more postal vote applications than in 2018.

Turnout is usually around 90%, so both these numbers will represent a higher percentage of total votes than is indicated as a percentage of enrolment. Also, not every dispatched postal vote will returned.

Graphs of the daily figures inside the post.Read More »Tracking the Early Vote for the 2022 Victorian Election

Updates on Victorian Legislative Council election

Two quick updates on extra material I’ve published on the ABC election site.

First, I’ve published a Legislative Council Voting guide explaining above and below the line voting and the pitfalls created by Victoria still using group voting tickets.

The guide includes links to the pdf GVTs I listed in my previous post, but also a link to a web version of each region’s GVTs which is more accessible on mobile devides.

The guide also includes a link to the Legislative Council Calculators, one calculator for each region. The calculators let you enter percentage votes for each group, and then apply the GVTs to predict who will win.

I hope you find them informative.Read More »Updates on Victorian Legislative Council election

The Secular Decline in Support for the NSW Christian Democrats

While the term is normally limited to use in finance and economics, ‘secular decline’ is an apt description for the downward trend in support for the NSW Christian Democrats over four decades, as well as being an irresistible play on words.

The Call to Australia was formed from groups that were active in the late 1970s campaigning against pornography, abortion, homosexuality and various issues that were often lumped together as “victimless crimes”. The Call to Australia campaigned to enter parliament.

Which it did at the 1981 NSW election when Call to Australia Leader, the Reverend Fred Nile, was elected to the NSW Legislative Council. The party polled 9.1% of the vote, 1.46 quotas, and might have elected a second member were it not for leakage of preferences.

After several previous announcements over many years that he would leave the Legislative Council, Rev. Nile is finally calling time on his parliamentary career after nearly 42 years. Nile will not contest the 2023 election. Instead he will put forward his second wife, Silvana Nile, to fill his spiritual void on the ballot paper.

Mrs Nile faces a difficult task. Support for the Christian Democratic Party has declined since its glory days in the 1980s. Even worse, the party has been de-registered at both state and federal level, so the Nile ticket will have no party label at next year’s state election.

Since party names were first printed on NSW Legislative Council ballot papers in 1991, no unlabelled group has ever elected an MLC. Pauline Hanson running as an Independent coming closest from 2.4% in 2011.

There is also another oddity. Often retiring members will vacate their seat in favour of their replacement, the NSW Constitution requiring that the replacement be from the same party.

But the Christian Democratic Party has not only been de-registered. It was actually wound up by the courts, so does not even exist as an unregistered party. The NSW Parliament has not previously filled a vacancy for a party that has ceased to exist, and appears to have no intention of doing so before next March.

The graph below shows the party’s decline in support since its first election in 1981. The party elected a member at every election until missing out in 2019.

Read More »The Secular Decline in Support for the NSW Christian Democrats

Record Minor Party Vote at the 2022 Senate Election and how the Senate’s Electoral System Performed

The 2022 Senate election marked a new high point in support for minor parties and Independents. The long term trend of declining support for major parties continued and passed a new milestone. For the first time both major parties were outpolled by the combined vote for minor parties and independents.

Senate ‘Other’ vote reached 35.7% against 34.2% for the Coalition and 30.1% for Labor. Senate non-major party support has been higher than Labor’s vote at every Senate election since 2013, but 2022 was the first where it was also higher than the Coalition.

In the House of Representatives, minor party and Independent support remained in third place though at a record level. The Coalition polled 35.7% in the House, Labor 32.6% and all other candidates 31.7%. While support for ‘Others’ reached record levels in both chambers, the gap between support in the two chambers narrowed.

The one-third splits in Senate support did not translate into one-thirds representation. The Coalition elected 15 Senators, Labor 15, and all other parties 10. Within vote for others, the Greens elected six Senators with 12.7% of the vote while the 23.0% support for the rest elected only four Senators.

This discrepancy is down to the nature of the Senate’s electoral system. Support for the Coalition, Labor and the Greens was confined to a single ticket in each state and territory. (There was a second but very low-polling National ticket in SA.) Support for non-Green ‘Others’ may have been at 23.0%, but it was spread across 126 groups plus numerous ‘ungrouped’ candidates. As smaller parties were excluded, their preferences did not always flow to other smaller parties.

Under the group voting ticket system abolished in 2016, party negotiated deals allowed small parties to aggregate their vote. The abolition of tickets returned control over preferences to voters, and three elections since the change have revealed that voters make different preference choices to those produced by the now abolished tickets. The new system has essentially diminished the influence of preferences and made the system more proportional to the level of first preference vote in each state.

The Senate’s electoral system now effectively operates like list proportional representation with final seats allocated to groups with the highest partial quotas on first preferences. The election of Independent David Pocock in the 2022 ACT Senate race shows that preference can still determine who is elected. But such exceptions don’t undermine the basic nature of the Senate’s reformed electoral system – it advantages parties with primary votes over parties that rely on preferences.

Inside this post, I take a closer look at the national voting patterns, and also assess how the electoral system translated votes into the seats.
Read More »Record Minor Party Vote at the 2022 Senate Election and how the Senate’s Electoral System Performed

2022 Post-Federal Election Pendulum

With 16 members elected to the crossbench in the new House of Representatives, drawing up a new electoral pendulum based on the 2022 Federal election result strains the traditionally used two-sided format.

However, I’ve gone with the traditional format with the non-major party seats separated bottom right on the opposition side of the pendulum. However, the expanded size of the crossbench means this group of seats deserves more attention than its bottom of the table position suggests.

Inside this post I provide a post-election pendulum for the House of Representatives, along with some general comments on the overall result.Read More »2022 Post-Federal Election Pendulum

Loophole allows Liberal Democrats to Retain their Party Name

(7:15pm – this post has been updated to clarify some points of law.)

Last year Labor and the Coalition combined to pass legislation that prevented parties from having registered names that were too similar to those of already registered parties.

It was clear the target of the legislation was the Liberal Democratic Party. Last November, after applications by the Liberal and Labor Parties, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) gave notice that the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Labour Party would be de-registered if they did not change their names.

The full 3-person Australian Electoral Commission confirmed the original de-registration notice from November on 9 February., so the Liberal Democrats were de-registered under their existing name.

On 9 March the High Court upheld the new law by which the party had been de-registered. It looked like game, set and match for the Liberal Democrats.

But no, the Liberal Democrats are free to contest the 2022 election under the name Liberal Democrats despite the law and despite the High Court.

It all comes down to a clever loophole in the law that someone in the party spotted.
Read More »Loophole allows Liberal Democrats to Retain their Party Name