pre-poll voting

Dunstan By-election Updates plus problems with the SA Electoral Act

After looking the clear winner of the Dunstan by-election on Saturday night, Labor has finished with a narrower margin than expected.

Dunstan had been held by former Liberal Premier Steven Marshall since 2010. He squeaked home with a narrow 0.5% margin at the 2022 state election which meant the seat was always going to be a hotly contested by-election on his retirement. (For background on the by-election and the results see my profile on the ABC Elections website. Final figures published.)

On election night the Labor Party finished on 53.8%, boosted to 54.0% on Sunday by check counting. At that point, based on declaration vote trends at the 2022 state election, Labor would have expected to finish with 52.7% once all votes were counted.

In fact the race has been much closer. On Thursday 28 March, Labor’s Cressida O’Hanlon is on 50.8% after preferences with a lead over Liberal Anna Finizio of 347 votes. The count is at 80.5% of enrolment with only a handful of outstanding postal votes remaining to be counted. Due to Good Friday, postal vote return closes on Tuesday 2 April to be followed by the formnal distribution of preferences.

Labor will win after a swing of 1.4%, down substantially on the 4.5% swing seen on election night.

The table below shows how the count narrowed with the release of each successive declaration vote count.Read More »Dunstan By-election Updates plus problems with the SA Electoral Act

The Changing Pattern of Results by Vote Type

With counting complete, the Australian Electoral Commission has returned the writ to the Governor-General formally declaring “The Voice” referendum defeated.

The final count has confirmed what was observed on election night, that there was a massive difference between how people voted in person on polling day compared to votes cast in the two weeks of early voting.

My professional interest in this difference is the impact the growing and variable gap between polling day and early votes has on when we know results on election night.

As I outlined in a previous post, 83.8% of votes were cast on polling day at the 1999 Republic referendum. In 2023 the figure was close to half at only 43.7%.

There has been a huge increase in pre-poll voting since its availability was first liberalised in 2010. Over the 13 years since, the number of polling day votes has declined. While pre-poll voting centres are counted and reported on election night, the larger number of votes taken per centre compared to polling places means pre-polls generally report later in the evening. At recent by-elections, all polling places have reported their results before the first pre-poll centre reported.

With pre-poll counting revealing different trends, and unreliably different trends as well, it means that close elections will take longer to call on election night.

Pre-poll and postal voting has always had a conservative lean compared to election day voting, but never have we seen a gap as wide as at the referendum.

When non-polling day votes made up less than one-in-five votes, you could factor in the last election’s postal and pre-poll trend safe in the knowledge there were not enough votes to shift a result more than a few percentage points.

With early votes now outnumbering polling day votes, an early prediction based on polling day votes can be significantly shifted. That is shown clearly by the referendum.

At the 2022 Federal election, the Labor two-party preferred vote declined 1.6 percentage points between the tally of polling day votes and the final count. That was high by past election trends.

But the shift was even greater at the referendum. The Yes% shifting down a remarkable 3.8% between the tally of polling day votes and the final result.

The table below breaks down the referendum Yes vote by vote type and compares it to the same categories for Labor’s two-party preferred vote at last year’s Federal election.

Vote By Type – 2022 Federal Election and 2023 Referendum Compared
Percent of Total Votes Percent of Vote
Vote Type 2022 2023 ALP 2PP Yes “Swing”
Polling Day Ordinary 45.1 43.7 53.7 43.7 -10.0
Pre-Poll Ordinary 33.3 35.3 50.6 35.4 -15.2
Postal 14.3 11.0 49.1 33.1 -16.0
Pre-Poll Declaration 3.6 4.3 53.3 44.7 -8.6
Absent Votes 3.2 4.4 57.4 48.9 -8.5
Other vote types 0.5 1.3 59.1 47.7 -11.4
Total .. .. 52.1 39.9 -12.2

Read More »The Changing Pattern of Results by Vote Type

The Voice Referendum – Postal and Pre-Poll Voting Rates

Monday 30 October – Postal vote receipt has now closed so this will be the final update. Returned postal votes represented 10.1% of enrolment, about 10.9% of votes counted. The final return rate for dispatched postal votes is 86.4%.

Saturday 14 October – final figures – At the close of early voting on Friday 13 October, 6.1 million pre-poll votes had been cast representing 34.7% of enrolled voters. A single day record of 1.1 million pre-poll votes were cast on Friday. Around 2.1 million electors had applied for a postal vote pack representing 11.7% of enrolled voters. Around 1.4 million completed postal votes have been returned. Returned postal votes represent 8.1% of enrolment or 69.3% of dispatched postal vote packs.

The final early vote figure is a record, higher than in 2022, but postal applications are lower than in 2022.

The post includes a number of graphs breaking down the figures by state and by electoral division.
Read More »The Voice Referendum – Postal and Pre-Poll Voting Rates

2022 Victorian Election – Early Voting by District

UPDATED – figures to Thursday 24 November

The table inside this post shows the rate of Early voting by district. Separate totals are provided for Postal applications and Pre-Poll votes.

The table is sortable by all four columns but here’s a summary of the three lowest and highest values.

Taking pre-poll votes and postal applications together, more than half of all electorates have passed 50% of enrolment.

Total Early Vote

  • Highest % – Nepean 67.6, Mornington 66.0, St Albans 65.3, Niddrie 65.1
  • Lowest % – Eildon 47.0, Lowan 47.7, Preston 47.9, Monbulk 48.3

Postal Vote Applications (now closed)

  • Highest % – Caulfield 21.1, Box Hill 19.4, Bulleen 18.6, Glen Waverley 18.2
  • Lowest % – Murray Valley 7.6, Morwell 7.7, Ovens Valley 7.9, South-West Coast 7.9

Pre-Poll Votes

  • Highest % – St Albans 53.0, Nepean 51.7, Melton 51.7, Niddrie 50.5
  • Lowest % – Eildon 31.0, Monbulk 33.9, Albert Park 35.5, Preston 35.5

Full details for all districts inside the post.
Read More »2022 Victorian Election – Early Voting by District

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

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

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

2021 WA Election – Tracking the Early Vote

Final pre-poll and postal vote details have now been published ahead of the WA election on 13 March. The number of early votes already in the hands of the WA Electoral Commission have passed three-quarters of a million, 755,075 or 44% of enrolled voters.

The final figures at end of voting on Friday 12 March are

  • 585,774 pre-poll votes have been taken representing 34.1% of enrolled voters. This is more than two and a half as many pre-polls as were taken in total at the 2017 election. 86.548 were taken on Friday, the usual pattern where the highest number of pre-polls is taken on the final day.
  • 331,078 postal vote applications were received up till close of applications on 10 March representing 19.3% of enrolled voters.
  • 169,301 postal votes have been returned and processed by the WAEC representing 9.9% of enrolled voters or 51.1% of postal vote applications.

Read More »2021 WA Election – Tracking the Early Vote

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

Early Voting at Queensland Elections and its Political Impact

As a Covid-19 measure, the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) is encouraging electors to vote early in 2020. This means the Queensland election will see a record rate of votes cast before the traditional polling day on 31 October.

While the overall early voting rates will be exaggerated by the circumstances of holding an election under Covid-19 precautions, the switch to early voting continues a trend that has been accelerating over the last decade.

This post looks at Queensland elections since 1986, how and when people have voted, as well as the differing levels of party support by vote type at the 2017 state election.Read More »Early Voting at Queensland Elections and its Political Impact