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The subtext here is that allocating preferences based on the last election is not very scientific especially as the PUP has virtually disappeared and NXT has filled the void with a wholly different group of voters. So why bother? I think the result on Saturday could be 53/47 either way. I just don't know which way. I have noted elswhere that I have been tracking the difference in primary vote support for the major parties and have been looking at movement in the Green vote. At the 2013 election the difference between ALP and Coalition primary votes was 12.17%. That's very large. The Green primary vote was 8.65%. Since the campaign commenced, The major party primary vote difference has averaged 6.1%. [Reach Tel which has a quite large diference, is the main outlier here.] The Green vote is averaging 10.9%. The Coalition vote is tracking 3-4% lower than 2013. On this basis, the Labor Party should make good gains but its ultimate success depends on "other" preferences which are a known "unknown"..
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With OPV now BTL, it may not be long before another government will do away with ATL, leaving a simple choice of candidates 1 to 12 as opposed to party-imposed list of candidates. Pre-1984 except with OPV, I think. Counting these votes would be interesting though. Data entry etc COMMENT: I would be surprised if that happens. The main interest of political parties is ensuring lower house votes are formal using how-to-votes. Those same parties want an easy to display form of upper house voting and hence they like ATL voting. Getting rid of it complicates how to votes. I doubt getting rod of ATL voting would have any impact anyway as we know from pre-1984 voting that most people would just vote straight down each ticket.
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I'm quite surprised that you have used the words "peculiar" and "odd" in describing the proposed below-the-line voting arrangement in the amendment bill. I think it is outrageous. It is possible that exhaustive preferential voting BTL is not only inconsistent with OPV applying ATL to party lists, it might be unconstitutional. OPV should permeate the ballot paper, top and bottom. If voting 1 for ATL is still a formal vote under the new arrangements, then a lot of Labor voters will do that. No surplus vote would be passed on to the Greens who better hope that their candidates in each state achieve a quota or very close to one. I think the Greens have been very foolish here. COMMENT: I decline to get involved in outrage over a provision I expect to be changed.
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You like so many others including me, are seeking to have the Senate voting system changed. But you have highlighted the difficulties for the AEC in counting votes, changing compeer programs and so on. It is also very late in the election cycle to make big changes that can be implemented properly. I think that the voting ticket system for above the line voting should be retained for now. But instead of parties lodging tickets preferencing all candidates, they should be required to lodge tickets with a maximum of say 20 [twenty] preferences. A form of OPV. The gaming of the system by micro parties and the election of another Ricki Muir would be difficult to achieve in this case. The Commission would not have to change much at all. Voters can still vote 1 above the line. It would also avoid constitutional questions. For below the line voting, it is straightforward. OPV: vote 1 to 6 or in the case of a DD, 1 to 12. COMMENT: The constitutional question has usually been whether a single '1' above the line can be construed as being a vote for candidates. If someone tries to knock out a single '1' for one party, or 1-6 for six parties as being against Section 7 of the Constitution, I'd imagine that the existing ticket vote system for all parties would also be unconstitutional.
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I have been thinking about this matter for some time. Gary Gray’s comments today about pop-up political parties and the self serving nature of them have encouraged me to write to you. While I have some sympathy if not complete agreement with your views, I think you should be a little more circumspect in your advocacy – and that’s what it is, admittedly underpinned by analysis – for changing the voting systems for the Senate and following the VIC results, the Legislative Council. I was surprised by your “editorialising” on ABC’s TV coverage of the VIC election [a term used, I think, by the program’s host] about changing the Legislative Council voting system. As someone who is either contracted or employed by the ABC, you are taking a political stance that favours the major parties because, like Gary Gray, you don’t like the way the system has been gamed by a dozen or so disparate parties who have worked out a way to win. I believe you should couch your concerns/criticisms more carefully by noting that the matter warrants investigation and outlining the advantages and disadvantages of the current system. This can be done without actually advocating a position on TV/radio, very technical though it may be. Personal blogging is by definition, more amenable to opinion. By all means, make submissions to various Parliamentary committees and the like, but not on ABC TV/radio. Turning to specifics, at the 2013 federal election, the electorate made it clear it wanted to change the government, giving the Coalition a primary vote of 45.55%. Significantly, the electorate gave the Coalition [I am advised] its lowest ever Senate primary vote [37.71%]. The electorate clearly drew a distinction in supporting the Coalition. As it turns out, the electorate knew what it was doing. No major party would have control of the Senate, certainly not the Coalition. The electorate chose in significant numbers to vote for one of the other minor party groupings. Contrary to psephological folklore, only Ricky Muir effectively gamed the system from a ridiculously low vote [0.51%]. It is worth noting that PUP’s Lambie received a respectable 6.58%, Leyonhjelm a generous 9.50% [we all know why], Lazarus 9.89%, Day 3.76% and Wang 5.01% [and something like 13% in the supplementary Senate election in WA]. These cross benchers [Xenophon excepted] achieved their quotas just like the Greens and Labor did and have done so for decades, by harvesting preferences. If gaming was to be had, then look no further than the Greens and Labor in TAS and VIC in 2013 where three left-of-centre quotas were built up by - guess what? - harvesting preferences. And who got Bob Day over the line in SA? It wasn’t just the minor parties. You see, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. If you are going to advocate change, why not do away with above-the-line voting altogether and apply OPV to candidate lists now shown for BTL. It would resemble BTL voting for the VIC upper house, voting for TAS House of Assembly and ACT Legislative Assembly [but without Robson’s rotation]. Data entry would be an issue but not an insurmountable one. You provide a very valuable service and technical support to amateurs like me. You are pre-eminent in the field and have enormous powers of persuasion. The recent Electoral Matters Committee’s [unanimous] report demonstrates that. There is however, a demarcation line between having advice accepted by such a committee and “editorialising” on ABC TV. COMMENT: I accept your criticism of my comments on election night in Victoria. I did go too far in editorialising. I think I was entirely right, but I still made use of an opportunity for comment not available to others. On your other comments, you failed to mention Mr Dropulich who was elected, or at worst case missed out by a tiny number of votes. On your examples of Lambie, Bob Day etc, compare their votes to others who missed out in the same contest. Why did the second Xenophon and Labor candidates miss out but Day and Hanson-Young get elected? Why did the third Liberals in Victoria and Tasmania miss out but Lambie and Muir get elected. You also miss the point that the election was distorted by the sheer number of people trying to preference harvesting, creating giant ballot papers and requiring magnifying glasses. Ticket voting has one major benefit - it cut 60 years of high informal voting. This pre-dated the introduction of STV in 1949, when OPV should have been accepted. Previous experience with STV in Tasmania and NSW showed the problems of STV with full preferential voting. I am open to having no tickets and limited preferential voting, but not if the minimum number of preferences is high. I hate the number of House ballot papers that could count but are rejected, and would hate to see this repeated with an obsessive concern about formality procedures carried over to the Senate.
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Does the President of the VIC Legislative Council have a deliberate vote [as does the President of the Senate] or a casting vote? COMMENT: The President has a deliberative and not a casting vote. All 40 members vote and a majority of members when all are present is 21.
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Wouldn't the ALP and Greens be wise to preference each other ahead of all other parties to ensure that 42.3% or three quotas is achieved with little leakage. The Greens, I think last time preferenced the Sports party ahead of Labor. Surely they wouldn't do that again and surely the centre left parties can achieve 42.3% in a state-wide by-election. COMMENT: That may be the case if you only look only at them competing with the Coalition, but in 2013 Labor and the Greens were were also competing with each other, so the Greens did side deals to maximise their chances against Labor and other parties. The Greens won the sixth seat in competition against Labor, the Sports Party the fifth, so Green and Labor preferences played no part in the final result.
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With a huge swag of preferences being directed to KAP, the party is likely to have a 0.6 quota and comfortably overtake the Greens whose preferences would then top up the PUP to a quota, with the sizable remainder flowing to KAP. I think KAP is likely to catch the Greens and give the LNP a scare. The LNP has not scored well in the preference stakes. Also note that the ACT LIBs have not reached a quota, being 1300 or so under quota. It is unusual I think that the LIBs have not got a quota some two weeks after the election. Worth watching. Only 80% of the vote has been counted though. COMMENT: Have you looked at my Senate calculator output? KAP don't even come close. http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2013/results/senate/qld/ If the Liberals get 32% in the ACT they get home on Rise Up Australia and Animal Justice Party preferences.
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Is there a chance that the LNP could fail to pick up the party's third seat in QLD even with a quota of 2.8820? Could KAP with all the favourable preference flow, pass the Greens whose preferences would pass to PUP to get the Brick with eyes elected, then with whats's left, to KAP? Could there be a stand off between KAP and the third LNP candidate for the sixth spot? COMMENT: Katter's Australian Party is a very long way behind the Greens so I can't see this happening.
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If NSW stays above 47.5 and WA is entitled to an extra seat, does the number of seats in the House increase to 151? ANSWER: Yes.
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Two issues. Supply. If a no-confidence motion is carried in the same week the buget appropriation bills are tabled in the House, the Parliament would have to ensure that funds were available from 1 July 2013 for the ordinary annual services of government in the event there was not enough time for the return of writs following an election. This could mean the immediate pasage of the budget bills in the House. But would the Senate agree straight away? In 1975, the Governor-General was concerned with Supply and who could secure it. The current GG would have to consider the same issue if a no-confidence motion were carried to ensure accounts and public servants were paid. Abbott couldn't guarantee that unless he had the support of the Greens in the Senate. How ironic. Instead of the budget bills, the care-taker government could introduce supply bills to cover funding for say 5 months and have a budget brought down in August. [Supply bills were a feature of the Parliamentary system for decades.] Following a no-confidence motion, Gillard could argue that she is entitled to advise a House election and remain PM because the Parliamentary term is nearly finished and that she had a better a chance of securing supply through the Parliament. Who would put money on the Greens agreeing to such courses of action. COMMENT: In 1975 supply was arranged until 30 November, but it was the full appropriation bill that was held up. If the government lost a vote of no confidence and decided to go to an election at once, you would arrange a supplementary supply bill covering the period until after the election is over, and you would expect the Opposition to support it. To do otherwise would be to enter constitutionally strange territory. I find it hard to believe the Opposition would fight tooth and nail for the right to form government in this Parliament, as it has consistently said this Parliament lacks a mandate and the country needs an election as soon as possible. I don't think it is in the Opposition's interest to try and throw a constitutional crisis into the mix.
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Hi Antony. With the WA state election count almost completed, I would appreciate it if you could provide the ALP and Green primary votes for metropolitan WA ie Perth. If you also have a metropolitan 2PP for the ALP, I would appreciate that too. Cheers. COMMENT: Perth metropolitan area percentages, Liberal 49.8% (+11.0), Labor 35.8% (-2.5), Greens 8.9% (-4.4), Others 5.5% (-4.1). I don't have a 2PP but it looks like the swing was a bit over 6%. The WAEC will do a formal 2PP in the next few weeks.
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You may now know that the bill to increase nomination fees and to include other things, has passed the Senate unamended. The Greens, Xenophon and Madigan all tried to amend the bill but failed. It suggested to me that the big parties see some advantage in this for them. Based on what you have written, the legislative changes make sense. But should we be worried that Labor and Coalition support it? COMMENT: Not in my view. When the deposit for NSW Legislative Council elections was effectively increased from $2,000 to $10,000 in 2000, all of the minor parties supported the change. That was after the 1999 'tablecloth' ballot paper, when the logical conclusion of making it too easy to get on the ballot paper became evident to all. I think some of the complaints have been about the increase in House deposits, with there being more general agreement that something needed to be done about the Senate.
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I only found out about the Wanguri by-election result from Pollbuldger and you. I heard nothing on the radio or TV nor did I read about it in the major daily newspapers. And yet a 12.7% at a by-election would normnally attract attention, especially if it is the biggest by-election swing for a first term government in two decades. Anyway, you mount a persuasive strong case that there are no significant federal implications. I wish I could simply accept what you say but the size of the swing is huge and runs contrary to all that we read and hear about Labor. The result confirms that we live in unusual times politically. It also makes me wonder about WA and whether the polls are that accurate over there. COMMENT: The only people surprised by the Wanguri result are people who don't live in Darwin. An average Newspoll or Nielsen poll has a thousand people chosen at random. Two of those polls tell us more about the Australian electorate than 4,000 people at a by-election in one small corner of Darwin. All local factors, as evidenced by the immediate rumours of a leadership challenge in the CLP.
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While you demonstrate that OPV will cut the informal vote in lower houses, there doesn't seem to be any support for or even discussion about OPV in the Senate and other upper houses where PR is used. If OPV is best for the House of Representatives [just vote 1] then it should be used in the Senate [just vote 1 to 6 in a half Senate election & 1 to 12 in a DD] with the option to number more candidates in both cases if you wish. Alternatively, if above the line and below the line stay for voting for the Senate with full preferential voting, then introduce it for the House [unless there is just 2 candidates]. Same rules apply. A party ticket is lodged for above the line voting in the House [as for the Senate]. An elector has the choice of placing the number 1 above the line OR numbering every square below the line. This retains full preferential voting for both chambers. Another possibility for the House is to allow a voter to place the number 1 against the preferred candidate, with preferences allocated according to a lodged party or candidate ticket. Or number all squares in sequence if you like. OR scrap above the line voting for the Senate and have the option voting just 1 to 6 [1 to 10 if it's DD]. Have OPV all round. There are lots of choices. But I think the two chambers should have the same voting rules. COMMENT: Ticket voting in lower houses was tried in WA in 1989. I write a post on it here http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2008/07/ticket-voting-f.html As in the Senate, this delivers a power to minor parties they would not otherwise have, which is the ability to control preferences. You might see this raised as an option if electronic voting is introduced, but not otherwise. If optional preferential voting is OK in the House, it should be OK in the Senate. You would have to change the transfer value formula so exhausted ballots are put aside with elected candidates while preferenced ballots remain in the count.
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Antony, while you have drawn in federal election results, may I raise with you an unrelated matter concerning one aspect of the count of federal electorate votes. The Pollbludger wrote recently about provisional voting. If a provisional vote is lodged and, for some reason, subsequently rejected & not added to the formal count, does that provisional vote become an informal vote and added to that total? Regards. COMMENT: No. The vote was rejected at the stage where the details of the declaration envelope were checked before the ballot paper is removed, so the vote was not admitted to the count. It is neither formal nor informal as the ballot paper itself was never examined. The electoral commission keeps a record of declaration envelopes rejected, but they are statistics for an adminstrative record, not as part of an official result.
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Thank you for this analysis. As well as cyclical and structural issues being noted, could you not include longevity of government and compulsory voting as having a bearing on election outcomes? Compulsory voting could continue to undermine structural shifts until either the coalition or Labor poll so badly as as to come in third in most electorates. Like you, I think it is too early to predict Labor's federal demise, bleak as it looks. My reason for saying that is that Labor's primary vote has collapsed by 11% or so, but the coalition's primary vote has increased by only around 3%, suggesting to me that there is some hesitancy about the coalition's leadership. There is about a quarter of votes parked with the Greens and "Other". The Greens vote in published polls has varied little since the 2010 election [around 11-12-13%] while "Other " has doubled and has benefited from the ALP collapse. When pollsters calculate the 2PP, is it not the case that Labor only claws back 40% of each one percentage point of ALP primary vote lost to "Other"? There is a softness about the 2PP that the published polls don't seem to highlight. COMMENT: I am writing on the observed electoral cycle over the last 43 years. Every election looked at in this post took place under compulsory voting, so I see no point speculating on a completely alternative cycle that might have happened under a different system.
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Your comment about the Greens is interesting. I recall that at the 2010 federal election, the Greens offered an open ticket for the seat of Hasluck where the LIB's candidate was an Indigenous man: Ken Wyatt. Greens preferences favouring Labor were lower than than the natoinal average of about 80%. Wyatt won the seat by around 0.5%. It would have been tighter if the Greens had preferenced Labor but probably not enough to change the result. COMMENT: The national figure was 78.8%, the WA figure 76.9%, and the Hasluck figure 73.6%. In Hasluck the Greens drew the first position on the ballot paper with a donkey vote favouring the Liberal candidate, so the difference in preference flow would be explained almost entirely by the ballot position.
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Hi Antony. Have you noticed that the minority Labor government has introduced three pieces of legislation that amend the electoral/referendum Acts covering donations et al, closure of rolls/votes for prisoners, and more recently a bill covering identification for provisional voting purposes. The coalition has opposed totally or partly the first two bills and is likely to oppose the third one. The first two amending bills have passed the House of Representatives with the support of a combination of the independents and have been introduced in the Senate. What is the advantage of this piecemeal approach? All of them would in any case, go through the Senate after 1 July 2011 when the Greens hold the balance of power. COMMENTS: They are re-introducing legislation the Coalition rejected in the Senate in the previous Parliament.
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You mentioned that there may not be enough below-the-line votes to narrow the gap. If, as now seems likely Mayne is eliminated before the Greens candidate, Mayne's 3210 votes [current figure] could be crucial to the outcome. 48% of his votes are below the line, so his preferencing GRN then LIB then ALP above the line could be compromised. If there is also a drift in DLP & FF preferencing away from the LIBs, the the second LIB candidate may not quite make the full quota before the GRN votes are distributed to Labor. With only about 72% counted, this 5th seat count is fascinating, at least as far as amateur psephos like me are concerned.
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A really informative piece. Is the ABC obliged to have a presence at the tally room? Any tally room - state or federal? I switched between the ABC & Sky News for VIC election commentary/figures. It depended on who was talking etc. Sky's studion presentation didn't suffer from the lack of an expert-panel presence AT the tally room. Ditto for the 21 AUG federal election. Given that computer feeds are absolutely critical to informing TV audiences, why would you want to risk all that by setting up in a tally room? Have another go at the pollies. COMMENT: There's no requirement to be in the tally room. The National Tally Room does have an atmosphgere and a tradition which to date means none of the networks have gone into studio.
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Concerning the 2PP in NSW, is it possible that the ALP's share [48.84%] is understated given the very high informal vote in what were safe Labor seats in the Sydney basin? Blaxland 14.06%, Werriwa 10.35%, Watson 12.80% and so on. The informal vote for the Senate in these seats was much lower. Does the AEC ask the question whether the level of informal vote is deliberate, a protest or simply a mistake [based on OPV at state elections] by a great number of voters? A case study of Blaxland and another Labor seat such as Sydney [informal vote of 5.50%] would be interesting. Did Latham have an influence on the informal vote in western Sydney after all? Gee, lots of questions here. Sorry. COMMENT: We know from past research that a high proportion of the informal vote, especially in NSW, will consist of '1' only vote with no preferences. It is more than two decades since the research looked at the voting intentions of those votes, but that old research from 1984 and 1987 indicated that Labor was disadvantaged by the number of '1' only votes that ended up not being counted. Whether it would have had any significant impact on the outcome is hard to say, but given the small number of seats decided by narrow margins, it would be unlikely that any seats would change hands if the informal votes with identifiable first preferences had been included in the count.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2010 on How Australia Voted at Antony Green's Election Blog
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Concerning the table reproduced above and based on Galaxy figures, have the 2007 2PP figures for QLD and NSW been adjusted for re-drawn boundaries & therefore new margins? If the 2007 figures for these states have not been adjusted, doesn't it mean that Galaxy is comparing apples [unadjusted 2007 figures] with oranges [2010 poll figures] for these seats? On a broader point what sort of journalist would produce a story that, as you have demonstrated, is so inaccurate? COMMENT: No, Galaxy have used the adjusted boundaries for 2007. The poll is perfectly valid. You can have an argument about how much a swing in Galaxy's chosen seats will flow through to other seats, but that's not an issue to do with the polling.
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Regarding the way the votes are countered in the Senate, once a quota has been determined, how does the AEC select the votes from the pool of total votes for a candidate with the highest primary vote in order to fill that quota? Are they all above the line votes or is the quota filled by taking below the line votes first? Is it a combination of both? I am trying to establish whether there is any point in voting below the line if such votes are taken up in the quota of the first elected senator and so on. I hope you follow what I am driving at. COMMENT: It doesn't select votes, all votes are counted and transferred at reduced value. The AEC hasn't sampled Senate preferences since 1983. All votes are examined and transfered, but in descending order of transfer value. So full value votes go first, then votes previously received at a reduced transfer value. When the 2nd candidate on a party ticket is elected or excluded, their full value first preference votes would be distributed first before the reduced transfer value votes that had been distributed from the party's lead candidate.
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Now that pre-poll votes may now be counted on election night, can they be counted straight after the polls have closed at 6pm, entered onto the computer system and shown first? Are pre-poll votes held at the Divisional HQ or sent to polling booths for counting & scutiny? Indeed, can scrutineers examine them at all? Similar to your matching booths as results come in, do you match the pre-poll count with what happened at the last election? COMMENT: Pre-poll votes cast within division are now treated as normal votes and do not need to be placed in a declaration envelope. Completed ballot papers are placed in a ballot box. The votes will be counted as normal votes on election night, with the ballot box opened and counted after 6pm. All candidates are entitled to nominate a scrutineer to observe the count. They will be reported on the night as a separate total similar to a booth.
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