The Tally Room Sat, 04 Jul 2020 22:31:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 6127899 Eden-Monaro – where the south-east was won Sat, 04 Jul 2020 22:31:00 +0000 It took all night, but early this morning it became clear that Labor had won the Eden-Monaro by-election, when the last of the pre-poll booths reported their results, and a first batch of postal votes were far better for Labor than postal votes usually are.

In this post I’ll show you a map of the results and swings, and break down how each part of Eden-Monaro swung, and how turnout shifted away from election day and towards pre-poll voting.

First up, this table shows the two-party-preferred vote for Labor and the total formal votes cast in each part of the seat in 2019 and 2020. These are based on the five regions I defined in my seat guide.

Voter group Labor 2PP Labor 2PP 2019 Swing to ALP Formal votes 2020 Formal votes 2019 Turnout change (%)
East 57.6 54.3 3.3 12,053 15,404 78.2
North 51.0 52.5 -1.5 9,768 10,753 90.8
Queanbeyan 54.6 56.3 -1.7 11,310 14,522 77.9
South 43.6 43.1 0.5 4,871 5,258 92.6
West 48.0 47.7 0.3 3,449 4,056 85
East pre-poll 52.9 49.6 3.3 12,629 10,361 121.9
North pre-poll 47.4 45.8 1.6 3,686 3,360 109.7
Queanbeyan pre-poll 50.1 52.8 -2.7 14,262 11,980 119
South pre-poll 40.9 42.3 -1.4 5,605 5,743 97.6
West pre-poll 46.4 46.9 -0.5 3,763 3,670 102.5
Other votes 49.3 48.9 0.4 4,858 14,110 34.4
Canberra pre-poll 56.2 64.3 -8.1 997 42 2373.8

I have also separated out the pre-poll booths based on what part of the seat they lay in. The regions don’t necessarily map perfectly onto the pre-poll areas: in particular the “north” includes the former Palerang council area, but there were no pre-poll booths there. It’s more likely that those voters might have gone to Queanbeyan, not to the Yass booth which is ostensibly in the same zone.

On the election day vote, Labor gained swings in the east, south and west. The swing in the east, which covers the coastal communities including Bega and Eden, was large, while it was much smaller in the other two areas, which tend to be the most conservative parts of the seat.

The Liberal Party gained swings in the north and in Queanbeyan, which remains the best area for Labor but not by as wide a margin as it once was.

The swings in the pre-poll booths have some similarities: Labor did very well on the coast and not so well in Queanbeyan. Labor picked up a swing at the Yass booth, and lost ground in pre-poll in the south and west (at the Cooma, Jindabyne and Tumut booths).

The table shows how the turnout changed, in terms of formal votes. The total turnout in ordinary votes dropped by between 7.5% (in the south) and 22% (in Queanbeyan). There were big increases in pre-poll turnout in Queanbeyan and the east, but turnout actually dropped at the Cooma pre-poll booth, which outweighed a slight increase at the other south booth in Jindabyne. Turnout at most local pre-poll booths jumped, although once you factor in absentee pre-poll votes in 2019 (which don’t exist at a by-election) the total turnout is roughly even. It will still likely be a larger proportion of a smaller overall turnout.

Overall there weren’t dramatic shifts in the pre-poll voting patterns. Labor’s two-party-preferred vote in the pre-poll dropped from 49.4% to 49.3%. The big change was in the postal vote.

We received the results for the first batch of the postal vote late in the night, oddly via tweet from the AEC. The actual figures won’t be in the tally room until tomorrow, and we don’t have primary vote data, but it showed Liberal candidate Kotvojs winning a sample of almost 5000 postal votes by just 70 votes. That’s 50.7%. In comparison, the Liberal Party polled over 57% of the two-party-preferred vote amongst postal voters in 2019.

We should have expected a change in the composition of the postal vote – the total volume of votes has clearly increased substantially – less than 6000 postal votes were cast in 2019, compared to almost 5000 counted just last night, and up to 16,000 total (although it seems more likely that around 13,000 will end up being returned).

We know that Labor generated a lot of postal vote applications, whereas they generated practically none in 2019. And you would expect that a certain kind of voter who traditionally would have voted on election day but switched to postal voting due to the pandemic wouldn’t look like the typical postal voter.

So what’s left to count? We now have all the election-day ordinary votes and the pre-poll ordinary votes, although of course they will need to be checked and there will be some small changes in the totals. We also have about 4900 postal votes. There were 16,840 postal vote applications, although not all of those will turn into votes. My best guess is about 13,000 postal votes will be returned, which means there’s about 8,000 outstanding. There will also be a small batch of provisional votes, but they shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Labor’s Kristy McBain currently leads by 1648 votes. If you assume there are about 8000 remaining votes, Fiona Kotvojs would need over 60% of the remaining votes to win, which doesn’t seem plausible.

Finally, here is a map showing the two-party-preferred vote for each election-day booth, and can be toggled to show the swings instead.

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Eden-Monaro by-election – results live Sat, 04 Jul 2020 08:00:13 +0000 12:22am – A rush of pre-poll votes has just been added to the system. Labor suffered a 4.1% swing at Jerrabomberra and a 3% swing at Queanbeyan, but actually increased their vote by 0.4% at Queanbeyan City. Labor also won majorities at the three small Canberra pre-poll booths.

We are now just waiting for Jindabyne pre-poll (1700 votes), Narooma pre-poll (3500 votes) and the remaining postal votes. A guess I’ve seen is that there would be about another 8000 postal votes.

McBain now leads by 2020 votes, so Kotvojs would need over 57% of the remaining vote to win. It’s looking like Labor has won.

11:30pm – I’m going to call it a night here. Those postal vote figures are very encouraging for Labor. While it is possible other samples might be worse, it’s very good for them to crack 49% on the postal vote, compared to barely making 43% in 2019. It’s worth bearing in mind that Labor ran a much bigger postal vote campaign this year, and there may have also been some change in the make-up of who casts a postal vote.

I would ideally like to see the pre-poll votes particularly from Queanbeyan, Jerrabomberra and Queanbeyan City before calling things, but Labor is clearly in the front now. Labor now leads by about 1800 votes, with about 21,000 more pre-poll votes and up to 11,000 more postal votes yet to be counted.

Hopefully tomorrow morning we’ll have most of the pre-poll votes counted and things will be much clearer.

11:19pm – The figures haven’t been included in the counts so far, but the AEC just tweeted a preliminary postal vote figure for election night. The count has Liberal candidate Kotvojs leading Labor candidate McBain by just 70 votes, 2464-2394. That’s 50.7% for the Liberal Party. With possibly up to 11,000 more postal votes to be counted later. It’s not as good a result as the Liberal Party would want.

11:05pm – What’s left to be counted? So far we’ve got two-party-preferred figures from 5/14 pre-poll centres. These 14 centres accounted for 43,684 votes, and about half of those votes were cast in the nine booths yet to report. Those booths yet to report include three large booths in the Queanbeyan area. Queanbeyan, Queanbeyan City and Jerrabomberra are worth over 15,000 votes. We have primary votes from Queanbeyan and Jerrabomberra so hopefully the 2PP count isn’t too far away.

In addition, we are still waiting for results from the three Canberra pre-poll booths and the divisional office, which are only worth about 1000 votes. We are also waiting for Narooma (3500 votes) and Jindabyne (1700 votes).

11:01pm – Cooma pre-poll: 2.5% swing to the Liberal Party. This is a much smaller swing than we saw on election day in the surrounding area.

10:58pm – And now Yass pre-poll has reported it’s 2PP count, Labor gained a 1.7% swing.

10:47pm – We also have primary vote figures from two pre-poll centres in the Queanbeyan area. Labor’s primary vote dropped by 6.2% at Jerrabomberra, which is similar to the swing there on election day. They also suffered an 8% swing at Queanbeyan pre-poll,

10:43pm – Labor has won 55.1% of the two-party-preferred vote at the Bega pre-poll, a swing of 0.8%. Labor’s Kristy McBain is currently sitting on 52.6% of the two-party-preferred vote.

10:32pm – We’re starting to get pre-poll 2PP figures. Labor gained 53.5% at Merimbula, a swing of 9.4%. They only gained 33% at Tumut pre-poll, a swing of 3% to the Liberal Party (which is a more modest swing in the neighbouring election-day booths).

10:03pm – Labor has suffered a 3.6% primary vote swing at the Yass pre-poll centre, which is a smaller swing than in two of the three Yass election-day booths.

10:01pm – As a comparison, the Labor primary vote went up 7.3% at Merimbula and 20.6% at Merimbula Central. They gained swings in the Bega election-day booths that are comparable to the 1.3% pre-poll swing.

9:58pm – We’ve got primary votes from the pre-poll centres in Bega and Merimbula. Labor gained a 1.3% swing in Bega, and a 6.7% swing in Merimbula. These are both good but it’s worth bearing in mind that both booths are in the east of the seat, which has produced the strongest swings for Labor.

9:52pm – So we now have results for all 71 polling places used today, but we don’t have any results yet for the pre-poll or postal votes. We had about 44,000 votes cast today as ordinary votes (including almost 3000 informal votes), but we are expecting almost exactly the same number of votes as pre-poll votes.

We don’t know how many postal votes have been cast, but we know quite precisely how many pre-poll votes were issued at each pre-poll centre. So we can compare where those pre-poll votes are expected to come from, and how that compares to the election-day result.

I have divided the seat into the same five regions I used for my election guide.

Labor gained a solid 3.3% swing in the east (ie. the coastal region), and much smaller swings in the south and west, which are the areas that the Liberal Party won in 2019.

Labor lost 1.6-1.7% in both the north (including Yass and the former Palerang council area) and the Queanbeyan urban area.

The pre-poll votes are not distributed in the same pattern. There are a lot less pre-poll votes cast in the north of the seat, and relatively more in Queanbeyan. I assume a lot of those voters from places like Bungendore went in to Queanbeyan to cast a pre-poll vote. There were also 943 pre-poll votes cast at three centres in Canberra.

Overall, almost 22,000 votes were cast on election day in regions where Labor gained a swing, while just over 22,000 were cast in regions where the Liberal Party gained a swing.

There are relatively more pre-poll votes in areas which swung to Labor: about 23,000 in the east, south and west, compared to about 19,000 in the north and Queanbeyan.

Overall this doesn’t look decisive: it suggests that Labor might do a little bit better than expected, but there is not a huge bias in terms of where these votes were cast. There is more than enough votes to put either side over the top.

Region Labor 2PP Labor 2PP 2019 Swing to ALP Ordinary votes Pre-poll votes
East 57.6 54.3 3.3 12,798 13,315
North 50.9 52.5 -1.6 10,156 3,939
Queanbeyan 54.6 56.3 -1.7 12,185 15,275
South 43.6 43.1 0.5 5,219 5,977
West 48.0 47.7 0.3 3,846 4,143

9:42pm – We now have two-party-preferred figures from all 71 ordinary booths, and the Liberal Party has gained a swing of 0.3%. In raw terms, Labor is on 52.8% of the two-party-preferred vote, but in a typical election you would expect that lead to diminish as the special votes come in.

9:22pm – Sorry for my absence – I’m trying to get some raw booth figures so we can get a sense of the trend before pre-poll reports. We now have 2PP counts from all but two ordinary booths and the swing to the Liberal Party is 0.3%.

8:55pm – We now have 67/71 ordinary election-day booths and the swing has flipped, with the Liberal Party gaining a swing of 0.3%.

8:41pm – On average the booths where the Liberals are gaining swings are a bit bigger than Labor booths. Labor has gained a swing in 31/60 booths, worth 16,481 total votes. The 29 booths swinging to the Liberals are worth almost 21k votes. In particular there’s a gap in Queanbeyan. Five booths have swung to Labor, and five to the Liberal Party, but the Liberal-swinging booths make up about 3/4 of the total vote counted so far.

8:35pm – The seventy booths which have reported primary votes recorded 53,022 votes in 2019, but this time around they’ve reported just 43,602. Just one ordinary booth is yet to report any results at all (Braidwood). So it looks like about 10,000 less ordinary election day votes will have been counted.

8:31pm – We now have two-party-preferred votes in 60 booths, and there are just eleven which are yet to report. The AEC expected about 45,000 ordinary votes across the election-day booths and about 39,000 of those expected votes were booths which have reported. Those booths have actually reported just under 37,500 votes.

8:27pm – The results we have seen are not entirely concentrated in small booths. Classifying booths by the number of votes expected by the AEC, there are 34 booths expecting over 1000 votes, and 14/34 have reported. 14/18 booths with 500-1000 turnout have reported, and 25/49 small booths (under 500 votes).

8:22pm – So far (still on the same 53 booths), Labor has gained a swing in 31, and the Liberal Party in 22. They are evenly distributed across the seat. Labor has gained a swing in a majority of booths in the north, east, west, and in Queanbeyan. The Liberals have gained swings in 7 out of 11 booths in the south (the Snowy Monaro region).

8:17pm – There’s a lot more data now and I’m working on a more detailed analysis, but just as a quick summary, we have preference counts from 53 booths, and Labor is up 0.6% across those booths.

7:15pm – 29 booths have reported primary votes and 13 booths have reported two-candidate-preferred counts, and Antony Green is projecting a 2.1% swing to Labor after preferences. But there’s still a lot of booths to go. When I get a minute I’ll do an analysis of the swings by region to see if that tells us more about what is going on. At the moment you’d rather be Labor than Liberal but it’s not close to decisive.

6:35pm – We have one tiny booth: Bowning, just outside of Yass. 164 votes have been cast, and Labor has gained a 0.2% swing after preferences from 39.1% to 39.3%. Far too small to tell us anything.

6:03pm – When I wrote this morning’s post we didn’t know what the final pre-poll count. In the end 6920 people voted on the last day, for a total of 43,684 across the entire voting period. This compares to 44,015 in 2019, so it’s a very slight decline, but will likely be a larger proportion of the total when you factor in a likely decline in turnout.

6:00pm – Polls have just closed in Eden-Monaro. I’ll be covering the results tonight, although caring responsibilities mean the analysis will be light-on before 8pm. We’re expecting a large volume of postal votes, many of which won’t be counted tonight, and that will likely delay a result. We’re also expecting around 40,000 pre-poll votes which will come in later in the night.

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Eden-Monaro by-election – election day thread Fri, 03 Jul 2020 22:01:55 +0000 Polls have just opened in the federal seat of Eden-Monaro in south-eastern New South Wales.

I will be back to cover the results tonight, although coverage will be light until after 8pm.

I wrote about the trends in early voting at the beginning of the week.

The final number of postal vote applications was 16,840, up by about 1400 compared to the beginning of the week, and more than twice as many as were submitted in 2019. We don’t know yet how many of those applications will result in postal votes, as voters can still choose to vote another way.

A total of 36,764 pre-poll votes were cast up to Thursday. The AEC website has not published Friday’s figures. 4510 votes were cast on Thursday, and 3887 on Wednesday.

A total of 44,015 pre-poll votes were cast for Eden-Monaro in 2019 (including votes cast at pre-poll centres in other seats). It seems unlikely there would have been quite enough votes cast on Friday to reach that number, but it might come close.

So this confirms a trend of pre-poll largely remaining steady at an already very high plateau, while postal voting increases significantly.

If you’re looking for more information about the by-election you can read my guide or listen to the Tally Room podcast about the by-election.

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The book of the 2019 election – now out Thu, 02 Jul 2020 03:00:32 +0000 The definitive academic take on the 2019 federal election has been released today by ANU Press. Morrison’s Miracle features 36 contributors covering every angle of the election, including the big policy debates, the political parties and the results.

This is the latest in a long-standing series – now up to 17 books about successive federal elections.

I’ve got a chapter in the book covering the results in the House of Representatives. This is a follow-up to a similar chapter I wrote for the 2016 book, Double Disillusion (although it’s not all the same stuff).

You can download the book or individual chapters for free from the ANU Press website, or order a copy.

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Podcast #36: Eden-Monaro preview Wed, 01 Jul 2020 21:00:30 +0000 Ben is joined by Stewart Jackson from the University of Sydney to preview this weekend’s federal by-election in the seat of Eden-Monaro.

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed in your podcast app of choice, but should also be able to find this podcast by searching for “the Tally Room”. If you like the show please considering rating and reviewing us on iTunes.

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Big jump in postals as Eden-Monaro votes in a pandemic Sun, 28 Jun 2020 23:30:07 +0000 We’ve entered the last week of early voting before this Saturday’s by-election in the south-east NSW seat of Eden-Monaro. We have quite a bit of data about who is casting an early vote, and it tells us that there has been a big increase in postal votes, but it looks like the increase in pre-poll votes will only be slight.

The AEC publishes daily statistics on the number of postal vote applications received per day (not the number of actual postal votes which have been returned: many of these votes won’t arrive until after the election, and voters are not obliged to use a postal vote after making an application). They also publish statistics on the number of votes cast at each pre-poll centre per day. These statistics cover up to the end of Friday 25 June.

By this point in the 2019 election, most postal vote applications (PVAs) had been received, and so far in this by-election more than twice as many PVAs have been received.

15,448 PVAs have been received in 2020, compared to 7181 at this point in 2019, and a final total of 7428. A total of 5969 postal votes were actually cast in Eden-Monaro in 2019.

If the current trajectory continues, you’d expect about 500 more PVAs to be received by Wednesday.

The AEC also breaks down the PVA data by how the application was received. Political parties are permitted to conduct their own postal vote campaigns and receive forms to their campaigns. They then pass on those forms to the AEC. They are able to then communicate directly with those postal voters who made an application through their campaign.

In 2019, just over 1800 PVAs came from the Liberal Party, compared to just 41 from the ALP. In 2020, the Liberal Party has submitted over 2666 PVAs, but Labor has submitted 4168. This suggests a big change in Labor strategy, possibly due to the seat being a pivotal by-election, but also likely as a response to COVID-19 and a greater demand for postal votes. This may mean more Labor voters will be casting postal votes, but it also may simply mean that Labor will have a much better sense of who is using postal voting and can campaign directly to them in the dying days.

There is a less dramatic but still interesting story in the pre-poll data. It’s worth noting that the pre-poll data does not tell us which electorate someone is entitled to vote in: it just tells us which centre they voted at. Some voters at Eden-Monaro pre-poll centres would be enrolled elsewhere, and some Eden-Monaro voters would have cast a pre-poll vote elsewhere. That isn’t a factor in the by-election.

Overall, 41,355 pre-poll votes were cast within Eden-Monaro in 2019, and 37,808 of those votes were for Eden-Monaro. Once you factor in absentee pre-poll votes, the total pre-poll vote in 2019 was 44,015.

There was much greater opportunity to vote pre-poll in the first week of voting in 2020 than there was in 2019. In 2019, you could only vote in week one at Queanbeyan. There was no voting in Tumut, Yass, Bega, Cooma, Merimbula, Narooma or Jindabyne. In 2020, Bega and Jerrabombera (a new Queanbeyan-era booth) were open from day one, and nearly every pre-poll booth opened on Thursday. Only Yass and Jindabyne waited for week two.

You can see how the availability of voting options affected the day-by-day vote count.

The pre-poll vote in 2020 jumped significantly on day 4 (Thursday of week one) when most pre-poll centres opened. 2019 had an even bigger spike on day 6 (Monday of week two). Ever since Tuesday of week two, the two numbers have moved together very closely.

This means that the 2020 pre-poll total has remained consistently about 3,000 votes ahead of the 2019 total for most of week two. But you need to bear in mind that 3,000 more votes were cast in pre-poll votes in 2019 than were included in the day-by-day count.

So at the moment it seems most likely that the pre-poll vote will end up in roughly the same place as 2019. The lack of absent pre-poll votes will likely cancel out the spike in in-area pre-poll votes in the first week of voting.

Finally, let’s take this information and factor in the breakdown of the total vote by category from the 2019 election:

Candidate Votes %
Ordinary 53,876 50.6
Pre-poll 44,015 41.3
Postal 5,969 5.6
Absent 1,983 1.9
Hospital 457 0.4
Provisional 205 0.2

Eden-Monaro was already one of the seats with the largest proportion of votes cast at pre-poll in 2019, so even without an increase in pre-poll voting it will still make up a very large part of the total.

Absent votes won’t be cast at a by-election. At the moment it looks like pre-poll will be about the same share, while postal votes may end up being around twice as big (say 11% of the total).

If pre-poll holds on to 41% of the vote and postal voting jumps to 11%, that would mean a majority of votes would be cast before election day.

That’s all for now. I will keep an eye on these numbers and will post an update later in the week. We may well see a big spike in pre-poll voting above the 2019 numbers.

Finally, you can also read Antony Green’s blog post about these statistics.

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Turning 16 WA seats into 15 Sat, 20 Jun 2020 02:47:46 +0000 Western Australia is on track to lose the sixteenth seat it gained at the 2016 election. This will trigger a redistribution before the next election, and will have knock-on effects across the state.

Only one of Western Australia’s 16 electorates has enough voters to still be above-quota once the seats are reduced to fifteen, and that one seat sits quite far above the quota.

Pearce now has almost 125,000 enrolled electors, while no other seat has more than 110,000. Pearce contains 31% more voters than Tangney.

After the fold I’ve included a map showing the population statistics in each existing WA electorate.

Electorates on the north side of the river tend to be less populous than those on the south side.

Perth, Stirling, Moore, Curtin and Cowan (all to the north of the river) are collectively 43% under quota.

The six southern electorates of Brand, Canning, Burt, Fremantle, Swan and Tangney are collectively 33% under quota, but most of that shortfall lies in Swan and Tangney, which are immediately south of the river. The other four seats are further south, and are less than 10% under quota.

Meanwhile Hasluck lies to the east, and straddles both sides of the city. Hasluck is 10% under quota.

When you add together the five northern seats, the inner south seats of Swan and Tangney and the eastern seat of Hasluck, those eight seats are 77% under quota.

It appears possible to mostly leave the four southernmost Perth seats alone, but the shortfall in the country may not make that possible. Forrest and O’Connor, the two southern rural seats, are collectively 13.3% under quota. Leaving the southern Perth seats intact would limit the options for bringing those seats up to quota by shifting parts of Durack into O’Connor.

If those seats are left alone, Swan and Tangney would need to take in parts of Hasluck, which would then have knock-on effects through northern Perth, with one of the northern suburbs seats abolished (I’ve seen suggestions that Stirling could go).

Alternatively, Forrest and O’Connor could shift closer to Perth, pushing up the southern Perth seats. A similar process would take place at the northern end of the city, with Durack taking in parts of Pearce and pushing the northern seats south.

In such a scenario, it may be Hasluck, the electorate which straddles the north and south of Perth, which could be abolished.

Whatever happens, big changes will be coming for Pearce. This seat is now 11.6% over quota, and will likely be projected to be even bigger. The electorate includes two urban centres on the northern fringe of Perth and a large rural hinterland. The map on my 2019 guide shows the clusters of booths in the Swan and Wanneroo council areas in the south-western corner of the seat. It seems likely that the northern end of Perth will need to be rearranged, with the northern beaches and Ellenbrook part of two different seats.

A decision about how to divide up Pearce will be closely connected to a decision about whether the southern Perth seats can be left alone.

A lot of the specifics will depend on the more precise population statistics which will be released when the redistribution commences. Each seat will be required to be within 10% of the average as of the time of the redistribution, and within 3.5% of the projected average in 3.5 years’ time.

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Where to put Victoria’s 39th seat? Fri, 19 Jun 2020 04:01:52 +0000 The latest ABS population figures for December 2019 were released yesterday, and they confirmed what we have suspected for some time. Victoria will gain a 39th seat at the next election, while Western Australia will lose its 16th seat and the Northern Territory (barring any legislative change) will revert to a single electorate.

In this post I will focus on how the addition of a 39th seat will likely shake up Victoria’s electoral map, including an interactive map showing each seat’s variation from quota. I will return on Monday with a similar analysis for Western Australia.

The Australian Electoral Commissioner is required to determine the entitlement of electorates in the House of Representatives for each state one year after the first sitting of the House, which this year will take place on July 3. The Commissioner uses the most up-to-date state population statistics, which will be the December 2019 data.

Victoria gained its 38th seat at the previous election, after holding steady at 37 seats for a long period of time. This means these electoral boundaries are relatively fresh. No seat is significantly out of line with the average. The most populous seat is 4.7% over the average (Ballarat) and the least populous is 5% below the average (Chisholm).

When you add a 39th seat, you lower the average seat size from 111,551 to 108,690. 30 of Victoria’s 38 seats are then at or above the average, with only a handful slightly below.

Every seat will have to be redrawn to create enough surplus voters to draw a new seat, and the impact will likely be statewide, but you can zoom out to the regions to get a sense of which areas will be hit hardest.

This table groups seats into four areas. I have split the state between Melbourne and rural Victoria, and then also split these areas into north-west and south-east.

Region Seats Variance from new quota
Melbourne 25 39.6
North-West Melbourne 10 26.5
South-East Melbourne 15 13.2
Non-Melbourne 13 60.4
Eastern Victoria 5 22.0
North & West Victoria 8 38.4

There are 15 seats in Melbourne to the south-east of the Yarra. These seats are only slightly over quota: collectively 13.2% of an extra seat across these 15 seats.

So these seats shouldn’t require too radical changes. The individual seats range from +5% (Macnamara) to -2.5% (Chisholm). Outside of Macnamara, no other seat is more than 3% over quota. This area includes the seven least populous seats in the state, and all but one of the seats under the new quota.

There is more population growth in seats in central and western Melbourne, but most of the surplus lies in rural seats. The ten Melbourne seats to the north-west of the Yarra are collectively 26.5% of a seat over quota.

Some of the most populous seats lie to the west of Melbourne: Ballarat, Corangamite, Wannon and Bendigo are all 5% or more over quota, with Mallee not far behind.

So it seems most likely that the 39th seat will be drawn somewhere on the north-western fringe of Melbourne, absorbing surplus voters from these north-western rural electorates and the north-western half of Melbourne.

There is a natural divide through Victoria that runs from Port Phillip Bay, along the Yarra and then up through the Alps. The north-west half of the state, stretching as far to the east as Indi, includes 18 seats (10 in Melbourne, 8 outside Melbourne). This region has 65% of an extra quota’s worth of electors.

The Commission will usually try to avoid drawing electorates which cross the boundary. It seems likely the Commission will bring the north-west closer to a full quota by returning those suburbs on the north side of the Yarra which were moved from Jagajaga to Menzies in the last redistribution. This won’t make up 35% of a seat, but it might be enough to then just average out the differences across each half of the state.

Finally, here is the interactive map which you can click on to see the quotas for each electorate. Red seats are 1% or more under quota. Green seats are 1% or more over quota. Pale yellow seats lay in between.

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Mail-only elections for NSW councils – not so fast Thu, 11 Jun 2020 00:36:33 +0000 There was a story in the Sydney Morning Herald last week about how the NSW state government is considering a switch to postal voting for all voters at the 2021 local council elections.

These elections were originally scheduled for September 2020, but were postponed by twelve months in the hope of avoiding the pandemic.

Things are looking pretty good in New South Wales now, and unless the disease manages to re-emerge it seems likely that full-scale council elections could be held in September 2021 without major disruptions to the electoral system (although I’d expect some basic hygiene practices to remain in place for a while).

While such a change could be necessary during the heart of a pandemic, it seems far from necessary for an election due in 15 months. Moreover I think moving away from using polling places sends a message about council elections being less important and not worthy of the transparency, privacy and security provided by voting at a polling place.

Four of Australia’s six states now vote entirely by postal voting. This has been the case for a long time in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. A small number of Victorian councils still used attendance voting up to the most recent elections in 2016, but a change in legislation has allowed the local government ministers to end that practice at the upcoming October 2020 elections.

New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory still use attendance voting for most or all of their council elections.

It’s not clear what justification the state government is using for a potential change. It may save money, but I don’t see why the Covid-19 pandemic would prevent the normal operation of an election on the current timeframe.

A switch from attendance voting to all-postal voting would radically change the experience of voting in NSW local government elections, and I worry that such a decision would be quietly ushered through under the shadow of the pandemic.

All-postal voting can improve turnout for elections with low turnout and low profile, but compulsory voting in New South Wales means we achieved an 80% turnout at the 2017 council election, and a 79% turnout in 2016. That’s pretty good for local government.

I’m not going to make a blanket claim about how postal voting would change how local government would work in a negative way (I suspect it would, but I don’t have the evidence to back it up) but it would certainly change the way elections work.

Postal voting is a handy tool for those who want to use it, but it remains an inferior way to vote, with reduced privacy and security. Think of the inferior voting experience at the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscites, where bundles of ballot papers were found dumped on the street. There was a surge of voters updating their address to ensure their ballots arrived. I don’t think you would see the same diligence in a local council election.

The end of polling booths for local council elections would also be terrible for the collective ritual of us all coming together and casting our votes to choose our councillors. Council elections are important, but a move away from our standard method of voting would send a signal that they are different and inferior to state and federal elections, and I think that would be a bad thing.

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Will the NT lose one of its federal seats? Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:00:01 +0000 I have been meaning to write a post about the impending determination and possible solutions to the likely merger of the NT’s two federal seats. Antony Green put together a long and interesting piece yesterday explaining how the current formula short-changes the territories, and suggests an alternative formula which would produce a better result, as well as some background on where our current system comes from. I’m going to quickly run through this issue for those who don’t have time to dive in deep.

I wrote about this likely outcome in August last year. It looks likely that Victoria will gain a 39th seat, Western Australia will lose its 16th seat, and that the Northern Territory will revert to just one electorate, after gaining a second seat at the 2001 election.

The current formula determines a national quota dividing the total population of the six states by twice the number of state senators (144). This formula is the default specified in the Australian constitution (although the parliament does have some room to move by changing the formula). The same formula is used to allocate ACT and NT seats, but this is not fixed in the constitution and could be changed.

Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy has put forward legislation that would set a minimum number of electorates for the territory at two, thus averting the seat loss. But Antony has proposed another change which would slightly improve representation for the territories without setting a hard floor.

This formula can be problematic when a territory has a small number of electorates. There is a massive change in the average population per seat when you jump from one to two seat, or from two to three. The average population per seat will be much higher if you have 1.4 or 2.4 quotas of population than if you have, say, 40.4 quotas.

Antony recommends a formula called Dean’s formula.

In short, it allocates the number of seats to each jurisdiction which would bring the average population per seat as close as possible to the national quota.

In the case of the NT, this means that anything more than 1.33 quotas of population would qualify for two seats. A third seat would be allocated if a territory had more than 2.4 quotas. This formula gets pretty close to the current formula once a jurisdiction is allocated more than a few seats. It’s actually simpler than I thought it would be, and I think it could be a good solution.

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