victoria

VIC22 – Melton – Analysis of Preferences

Melton was one of the seven districts where the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) conducted its re-check of election night votes by data entering ballot paper preferences into a computer system.

Melton had 14 candidates, and electorates with more than 12 candidates presented a counting problem for the VEC. After election night, all votes are manually check counted in bundles of 50 ballot papers, each bundle made up of first preferences for one candidate. After the counting of each bundle, bank note counters are used to quickly double check the number of counted papers in each bundle. The note counters verify the hand tally, NOT what’s written on the ballot papers.

Ballot papers with more than 12 candidates can’t fit into note counters. Hence why Melton (14 candidates), Point Cook (15) and Werribee (15) were data entered. The inability to use note counters would have substantially slowed down the amalgamation count where ballot papers are broken out of their polling place bundles and amalgamated ahead of the distribution of preferences. The distribution of preferences itself would also have been slowed.

Melton was a closely watched seat in 2022. It was the only seat in the state that had swung against Labor at the two previous state elections, and there had also been unusual swings against Labor in the area at May’s Federal election. Melton also attracted two noteworthy Independents in Dr Ian Birchall, who polled well in 2018, and Jarrod Bingham. When rolled in, it turned out neither had polled significantly, Birchall finishing third with 9.0% and Bingham fourth on 5.8%.

The two major parties attracted only 62% of the vote between them, Labor 37.7% and the Liberal Party 24.3%. But the other 38% was split across 12 candidates. In a seat with a low Green vote and with Independents campaigning against the government, Melton was a rare seat where preferences favoured the Liberal Party.

But the main threat to Labor in Melton was an Independent finishing second and sweeping up Liberal preferences, which in the end did not happen. That Bingham recommended preferences for the Liberal candidate ahead of Birchall further reduced the chances of the minor party vote coalescing. Too many candidates resulted in the anti-Labor vote dissipating in the distribution of preferences, as had happened in 2018.

As with my previous posts on Northcote, Preston, Hawthorn and Brighton, this post will use of the electronic ballot papers to analyse preference flow statistics and also to look at the influence of candidate how-to-votes.

The key findings for Melton are –

  • The Liberal Party how-to-vote, which switched in 2022 to recommend preference for the Greens ahead of Labor, resulted in 73.9% of Liberal voters following the recommendation and putting the Greens ahead of Labor. Note that Liberal preferences were not distributed.
  • For the 12 Melton candidates that registered how-to-votes indicating preferences, 27.0% of ballot papers exactly matched the how-to-vote of the chosen first preference party. The Liberals at 36.7% and Labor at 33.4% had the highest rate of ballot paper concordance with how-to-vote recommendations. The plethora of minor parties showed very little how-to-vote discipline.
  • In the two-party preferred count, a rare minority 44.5% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal. The Greens polled only 4.6% of the vote but still delivered 80.3% of preferences to Labor despite fewer than one in ten Green ballot papers having the recommended how-to-vote sequence.

More detail with tables inside the post.Read More »VIC22 – Melton – Analysis of Preferences

VIC22 – Brighton – Analysis of Preferences

Brighton was another of seven districts where the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) chose to conduct its re-check of election night votes by data entering ballot paper preferences into a computer system.

Brighton has never been won by Labor, but new Liberal candidate James Newbury came close to defeat in 2018. Newbury withstood a Liberal pre-selection challenge by former Bayside City Council Mayor Felicity Frederico ahead of the 2022 election. Frederico contested Brighton as an Independent but she finished fourth with 9.1% of the vote.

The VEC conducted a Liberal versus Frederico indicative preference count on election night but switched to Liberal versus Labor on the Monday after. The VEC also decided to data enter ballot papers for the check count.

The VEC reports Newbury as having won Brighton with 54.2% after preferences based on an indicative preference count. Despite using electronic ballot papers, the VEC stopped the distribution of preferences when Newbury passed 50% with three candidates remaining in the count.

Analysing the electronic ballot papers for this post has allowed me to calculate the correct two-candidate preferred results. The final Brighton result is Newbury 22710 votes (55.1%), Labor 18,486 (44.9%).

As with my previous posts on Northcote, Preston ahd Hawthorn, this post will use of the electronic ballot papers to analyse preference flow statistics and also to look at the influence of candidate how-to-votes.

The key findings for Brighton are –

  • The Liberal Party how-to-vote, which switched in 2022 to recommend preference for the Greens ahead of Labor, resulted in a very high 85.7% of Liberal voters following the recommendation and putting the Greens ahead of Labor. At last May’s Federal election by comparison, when the Liberal Party still listed Labor ahead of the Greens on how-to-votes, Liberal preference flows to the Greens were a much lower 31.7% in Cooper, 29.8% in Melbourne and 26.7% in Wills.
  • For the seven Brighton candidates that registered how-to-votes indicating preferences, including three versions for Frederico, 39.1% of ballot papers exactly matched the how-to-vote of the chosen first preference party. A high 57.0% of Liberal voters completed the same sequence of of preferences as listed on the Liberal how-to-vote. This helps explain the strong preference flows to the Greens. A lower 31.8% of Labor voters exactly followed the party’s how-to-vote sequence.
  • In the two-party preferred count, 68.0% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal, including 84.6% from the Greens, 60.7% from Frederico, 59.5% Animal Justice and 55.4% from Independent Gibson.
  • As I have noted in my previous posts, it is clear that the Liberal Party’s decision on how-to-vote recommendations has a major impact on whether Labor or the Greens receive the majority of Liberal preferences.

More detail with tables inside the post.Read More »VIC22 – Brighton – Analysis of Preferences

VIC22 Election – Hawthorn – Analysis of Preferences

Hawthorn was one of seven districts where the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) chose to conduct its re-check of election night votes by data entering ballot paper preferences into a computer system.

The seat was a three-way contest involving Labor, Liberal and Independent candidates. It was a very different electorate and contest to the Labor-Green battles in Northcote and Preston, the subject of my two previous posts in this series.

At the 2018 election the Liberal Party lost Hawthorn to Labor in a major upset. It was a very public defeat for Liberal MP John Pesutto, the result unfolding while he appeared on the ABC’s election night panel. The seat was won by retiree and little known Labor candidate John Kennedy.

Pesutto returned as the Liberal candidate at the 2022 election in a three-way contest against Kennedy and ‘teal’ Independent Melissa Lowe. On first preferences Pesutto polled 42.3%, Kennedy 22.1%, Lowe 20.0%, the Greens 11.1% with another 4.5% divided between four candidates.

The question to be resolved by the distribution of preferences was whether Lowe would pass Kennedy on Green preferences to finish in the final pairing. Kennedy’s initial lead of 948 votes narrowed after preferences but he still led Lowe by 106 votes at the crucial point when only three candidates remained in the count.

After preferences, Pesutto defeated Kennedy by 1,544 votes with 51.7% of the two-party preferred vote. Using the VEC’s ballot paper, it can be calculated that Pesutto would have defeated Lower by 1,296 votes with 51.5% of the two-candidate preferred vote. Pesutto’s victory was followed by his election as the new leader of the Liberal Party.

As with my previous posts on Northcote and Preston, this post on Hawthorn will use of the electronic ballot papers to analyse preference flow statistics and also to look at the influence of candidate how-to-votes.

The key findings for Hawthorn are –

  • The Liberal Party how-to-vote, which switched in 2022 to recommend preference for the Greens ahead of Labor, resulted in a very high 79.5% of Liberal voters following the recommendation and putting the Greens ahead of Labor. At last May’s Federal election by comparison, when the Liberal Party still listed Labor ahead of the Greens on how-to-votes, Liberal preference flows to the Greens were a much lower 31.7% in Cooper, 29.8% in Melbourne and 26.7% in Wills.
  • For the seven Hawthorn candidates that registered how-to-votes indicating preferences, 39.3% of ballot papers exactly matched the how-to-vote of the chosen first preference party. A high 53.9% of Liberal voters completed the same sequence of of preferences as listed on the Liberal how-to-vote. This helps explain the strong preference flows to the Greens. A lower 29.6% of Labor voters exactly followed the party’s how-to-vote sequence.
  • In the two-party preferred count, 73.4% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal, including 85.9% for the Greens and 74.1% for Independent Melissa Lowe despite Lowe not recommending any preferences on her how-to-vote. By comparison, the flows to Labor in the local Federal seat of Kooyong last May were 77.2% overall, 83.5% for the Greens and 80.5% for Independent Monique Ryan.
  • Calculating preferences for the Liberal versus Melissa Lowe contest, the overall preference flows were 75.6% to Lowe including 79.2% from Labor and 82.4% for the Greens.
  • As I noted for both Northcote and Preston, it is clear that the Liberal Party’s decision on how-to-vote recommendations has a major impact on whether Labor or the Greens receive the majority of Liberal preferences.

More detail with tables inside the post.Read More »VIC22 Election – Hawthorn – Analysis of Preferences

VIC22 Election – Preston – Analysis of Preferences

Preston was one of the seven districts where the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) conducted its re-check count of ballot papers by data entering ballot paper preferences into a computer system.

In the case of Preston, data entry would also simplify what had looked set to be a complex preference distribution. Labor led on first preferences with 37.6%, with the Liberals second 17.3%, Greens third on 15.1% and Independent Gaetano Greco fourth on 13.7%. Preferences were always going to push the Greens into second place. For a time it looked like Greco would pass the Greens to reach third place, but his first preference vote declined significantly with the counting of absent and out of district pre-polls.

As with my previous post on Northcote, I will make use of the electronic ballot papers to analyse preference flow statistics and also to look at the influence of candidate how-to-votes.

The key findings for Preston are –

  • The Liberal Party switch to recommending preferences for the Greens ahead of Labor flipped the flow of Liberal preferences. From a first preference vote of 17.3%, Liberal preference flowed 72.3% to the Greens. At the Federal election in May, when Labor was the recommended preference, only 31.7% of Liberal preferences flowed to the Greens. Clearly the Liberal Party’s choice of preference recommendation has a significant influence on how its supporters direct preference.
  • In the Labor versus Greens two-candidate preferred count, 69.4% of preferences favoured the Greens over Labor, only voters for Family First favouring Labor. Labor won with 52.1% of the vote after preferences.
  • In the two-party preferred count, 71.0% of preferences favoured Labor over Liberal with massive difference in flows based on the ideological position of each excluded party. After preferences Labor won 69.7% of the two-party preferred vote.
  • From the ballot papers it is possible to calculate an alternative Labor versus Independent Greco preference count. Had Greco reached second, the final count after preferences would have been Labor 57.0% to Greco 43.0%. Greco received only 60.1% of preferences, doing very well with flows from every party except the Greens whose preferences flowed 61.8% to Labor. This was despite Greco being listed above Labor on the Greens’ how-to-vote recommendation.
  • Overall 24.7% of Preston 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 33.4%, Liberal 29.4%, Freedom Party 24.0%, Victorian Socialists 19.5%, Greco 18.2% and the Greens 15.8%. 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 – Preston – Analysis of Preferences

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

2022 Victorian Legislative Council Election – Party Vote Totals

UPDATE: Table has been updated with final figures.

The table displays total votes by party, percentage vote, change in vote since 2018 and the percentage of below-the-line votes by party. It also includes seats won and change in seats.

I’ve been providing commentary on the results by region which you can find at the ABC election site’s Legislative Council results.

Vote total table inside the post.Read More »2022 Victorian Legislative Council Election – Party Vote Totals

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

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