Tracking the Pre-Poll Vote for the ACT Election

In this post I’ll track the rate of pre-poll voting for the 2020 ACT Election compared to 2016. The ACT Electoral Commission is actively encouraging pre-poll voting as a Covid-19 measure.

I’ll graph the data inside the post.

Day 19 – The final day of pre-polling, Friday 16 October, saw a huge surge with 26,804 votes taken. This brings the total number of pre-poll votes to 192,186 from a roll of 302,630, representing 63.5% of enrolment. Around 90% of these pre-poll votes were taken electronically and will be released in the count on Saturday night.

Another 22,328 electors have applied for a postal vote, putting the pre-election day voting rate up above 70%.

Several notes to make. First, late and polling day enrolment are allowed in the ACT so the roll number will rise slightly. Secondly, not all postal votes will be returned. Third, it is estimated around 80,000 Canberrans will vote in the traditional way today, Saturday 17 October.

This first table plots the progressive pre-poll votes taken as a percentage of enrolled voters.

Note that in 2020, pre-poll voting started one day earlier than in 2016. Pre-poll votes will be taken on every day including weekends and public holidays. In 2016 there was no pre-polling on the two Sundays of the campaign, the first Saturday of the campaign, or the second Monday which was the public holiday.

The second plot has the day by day total of votes taken compared to 2016.

The graph below shows the rates of postal and pre-poll voting at ACT elections from 1992 to 2016.

Day by day updates

Day 1 Summary – A total of 7,978 pre-poll votes were taken on the first day of pre-poll voting, more than the 7,195 taken in total on the first three days of pre-poll voting in 2016.

Day 2 Summary – Another 8,697 pre-polls taken bringing the total to 5.5% of enrolment after only two days of pre-polling. A total of 16,675 pre-polls have been taken in two days, more than were taken in the first week and a half of pre-polling in 2016.

Day 3 Summary – Another 7,788 pre-polls taken bringing the total to 24,463 or 8.1% of enrolment. I’m told voting slowed down during yesterday’s rain. The daily rate of pre-poll voting so far in 2020 wasn’t reached until the final week of pre-polling in 2016. That’s a lot of people making up their minds early this year.

Day 4 Summary – Another 8,323 pre-polls taken bringing the total to 32,786 or 10.8% of enrolment. In 2016 it took two weeks of pre-polling to take as many votes have been taken in four days this year.

Day 5 Summary – With extended hours yesterday, 11,781 votes were taken, a total of 44,567 now having been cast, 14.7% of enrolment. There were 83,743 pre-poll votes taken in total in 2016, so after five days of pre-polling, with another 14 days to come, pre-polls in 2020 are over half way to 2016’s total. And the big surge in pre-polls usually occurs in the final week.

Day 6 Summary – The first Saturday of pre-polling saw 7,468 votes taken. The total taken is now 52,035, or 17.1% of enrolled voters with two weeks of pre-polling to come. Traditionally most pre-polling takes place in the last week, and at this election there have been as many taken in the first week as were taken in the final week in 2016.

Day 7 Summary – The first Sunday ever of pre-poll voting took another 4,511 votes, the lowest on any day so far. 56,546 votes have now taken or 18.7% of enrolment.

Day 8 Summary – The Monday public holiday saw another 6,262 votes taken, bringing the total to 63,201. Pre-polling as a percentage of enrolment is now at 20.9%. Note also that the data has been updated with declaration votes taken at pre-poll centres, averaging about 100 per day. Until now the numbers were a count of roll mark-offs, but declaration voters aren’t marked off the roll because they are not on the roll. These can be polling day enrolments or people who feel their name has been left off the roll. They vote with a paper ballot which is sealed in a traditional declaration envelope. The data in the graphs has been updated with these additional votes, but I will leave my day by day summaries at the bottom of the post unchanged. If you want day by day numbers, download the data using the link under the chart. I’ve also been given 88.8% as the percentage of pre-polls being cast as electronic votes.

Day 9 Summary – The Tuesday of pre-polling week 2 (6 Oct) saw another 8,599 votes taken, bringing the total to 71,804 or 23.7% of enrolment. In 2016, the total after Thursday pre-polling in the third and final week, that is with one day to go, was 64,611 or 22.7% of 2016 enrolment. It is unlikely that the 12,000 votes needed to pass the 2016 pre-poll total will be taken today, but the 2016 total looks certain to be passed by Thursday evening with 8 more pre-polling days to go.

Day 10 Summary – The Wednesday of pre-polling week 2 (7 Oct) saw another 7,747 votes taken, bringing the total to 79,551 or 26.3% of enrolment. It only needs around 4,200 pre-poll votes to be taken today, a figure that has been surpassed on every day to date, for the number of pre-polls taken so far to pass the total 83,743 taken in the whole of the 2016 pre-polling period. That’s with the heavily used final week of pre-polling to come.

Day 11 Summary – The Thursday of pre-polling week 2 (8 Oct) saw another 7,648 votes taken, bringing the total to 87,199 or 28.8% of enrolment. That is more than the 83,743 pre-polls taken in 2016, but from a larger enrolment, is still below the 29.5% proportion of pre-polls in 2016. That figure will be passed today. Every weekday has so far seen 7,500 to 8,000 votes taken, slightly more last Friday in extended hours, slightly fewer on the weekend and public holiday. If the trend in pre-polling is anything like the last election and most elections in Australia, there will be a surge of pre-polls taken in the last week.

Days 12-14 Summary – The extended hours of pre-polling on Friday 9 October saw the biggest day of pre-polling so far with 12,293 votes taken. There were another 10,308 taken on Saturday and 8,442 on Sunday. It brings the total votes taken so far to 118,143 or 39.0% of enrolment. This represents an increase of 41% on the total number of votes taken in the entire three weeks of pre-polling in 2016. Another note on the 2016 pre-poll is that 61% of all pre-polls were taken in the last week. That suggests the 2020 numbers could double in the last week, though the greater availability of and publicity for pre-polling in 2020 means some people may have voted earlier in the period.

Day 15 Summary – Another 10,886 votes taken on Monday 12 October, bringing the total to 129,040 or 42.6% of enrolment. There have also been 21,580 postal vote applications compared to 16,925. The rate of pre-poll voting is expected to increase in the four days left before polling day.

Day 16 – Another 11,040 taken on Tuesday 13 October bringing the total pre-polls to 140,080 or 46.3% of enrolment. Three days of pre-polling to go.

Day 17 – Another 12,060 votes taken on Wednesday 14 October bringing the total pre-polls to 152,143 or 50.3%, finally passing over half of enrolment. A very different pattern of pre-polling compared to 2016 though. Rather than a slow start followed by a final week surge, this time it seems voters have spread themselves out over the three weeks. We will see if the last two days produce the usual final surge, but it hasn’t been evident so far in the final week.

Day 18 – Another 13,403 votes taken on Thursday 15 October bringing the total pre-polls to 165,546 or 54.7%. A very different pattern of pre-polling compared to 2016 continues to emerge. Rather than a slow start followed by a final week surge in 2016, this time it seems voters have spread themselves out over the three weeks. The gap between the votes taken per day in 2016 and 2020 has narrowed through the pre-polling period. (See second graph)

Day 19 provisional – Final numbers are to be determined, but on Friday evening the ACTEC gave a rounded figure of 26,000 votes on the final day of pre-poll, bringing to around 191,000 votes the final pre-poll tally, which represents 63.3% of enrolment.

6 thoughts on “Tracking the Pre-Poll Vote for the ACT Election”

    1. You will have to ask the ACT Electoral Commission. You have to apply and I don’t know the rules for accessing their internet vote system.

  1. Any thoughts why yesterday (Saturday) was actually the lowest daily uptake so far? With it being the weekend I would have expected a bumper day with fewer people at work etc so possibly more free time to go and vote.

    Also would it be possible to use day/date of the week rather than ‘day 1’ etc?

    COMMENT: My suspicion is the reasons you give for why more votes should have been taken on the Saturday aren’t correct. That may be due to where the pre-poll voting centres are. I’m just not sure.

  2. Hi Antony, where is the day-by-day early voting data published by Elections ACT?

    COMMENT: The data in this post is provided by the ACT Electoral Commission. You can download the data from the bottom of each graph.

  3. Hi Antony, will pre-poll votes be included in the count at the start of election night? I thought it was really great at the last Victorian election when pre-poll votes were included early, but I haven’t seen any mention of it for the ACT. Being predominantly electronic voting that should help speed up the Hare-Clark preference calculations.
    Thanks. Keep up the good work.

    COMMENT: I explain the counting procedure in my election preview. In Victoria, pre-polls were sorted before 6pm but not counted. There was no early reporting of pre-polls.

  4. I understand that with silent electors is about 57%. Is that correct?

    COMMENT: No. There is nothing like that number of silent votes. There are about another 10% of votes cast as postals.

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