NSW 2015 – Legislative Council update


The count in the Legislative Assembly is now largely complete. As of late Thursday evening, the Electoral Commission had “pushed the button” and finished the count in 41 out of 93 seats, including the key seats of Lismore (Nationals beat Greens), East Hills (Liberal beat Labor), Gosford and the Entrance (Labor beat Liberal), giving us a final figure of 54 Coalition, 34 Labor, 3 Greens and two independents.

In the Legislative Council, there has been substantial progress in counting since I last posted eight days ago.

I’ve produced a projection based on comparing the above-the-line votes counted in the first count and second count, and using this to project how the remaining below-the-line votes will flow.

CandidatePartyVotesQuotasProjected votesProjected quotas
Courtney HoussosLabor47,3830.5699167,2690.8583
Robert BorsakShooters56,9560.6851164,3100.8431
Fred NileChristian Dem54,1440.6513121,4230.6230
Peter JonesNo Land Tax39,8280.479180,4850.4130
Mark PearsonAnimal Justice33,1470.398775,3230.3865
Hollie HughesLiberal50,4530.606975,2090.3859
Shayne HigsonVoluntary Euthanasia16,0860.193539,6370.2034
Justin FieldGreens25,4720.306435,5170.1822

The first four of these candidates will get elected. On this projection, No Land Tax is leading on primary votes in a very tight race with Animal Justice and the Liberal candidate, leaving open the possibility of preferences being decisive, and/or a court case challenging the result.

Below the fold, I’ll explain the progress of the count and how I came to this projection.

The Electoral Commission is planning to ‘push the button’ sometime between Wednesday and Saturday next week.

As I explained last week, there are two stages to the count. In the ‘initial count’ – mostly conducted in local offices – above-the-line votes are counted and below-the-line votes and informals are bundled together and not separated out by candidate or group. This stage is now almost complete.

In the ‘check count’, all ballots are sent to the central counting centre. Piles of above-the-line votes with just a ‘1’ are counted, and entered into the computer en masse, as are blank ballot papers. Above-the-line votes with preferences, below-the-line votes and informal votes that involve marking are individually data-entered into the computer system.

In terms of the initial count, it appears most votes have been counted. In order to assess how many votes are remaining, I’ve compared the total number of (formal and informal) votes for each booth and each vote type in each electorate for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

The numbers are pretty small, and it appears there are only about 25,000 votes left to be counted: 19,179 Absent, 4,325 provisional/silent, 1524 postal and 281 enrolment votes. While these absent votes should slightly favour the Greens and hurt the Coalition, they are so small (compared to about 4.5 million total votes) that I have ignored them in my projection.

When you compare the initial count to the check count, it appears that about 42.5% of the vote has been entered into the computer. Unfortunately we don’t know which parts of the state have been counted, as we only have a statewide figure.

Even though we can’t say which booths and seats have been data-entered, we can get a sense of how much the sample counted so far is biased towards particular parties, by comparing the total above-the-line vote counted in the initial count to the above-the-line votes counted so far in the check count.

On this comparison, the current sample is biased towards towards the Coalition by 0.98%, the Greens by 0.58% and No Land Tax by 0.31%, while it is significantly biased against Labor, by 1.3%, and against the Shooters and Fishers by 0.7%. This explains why these candidates appear to be in danger of losing on current figures, but the projection sees them comfortably elected.

I have then applied these biases towards the below-the-line votes counted so far to come up with a total below-the-line vote. Overall, in the first round the NSWEC has found 368,686 votes that are either below-the-line or informal. In the check count, the NSWEC has counted 31,645 below-the-line votes, and 116,530 informal votes, which makes below-the-line votes about 21.4% of this total bundle. Using this ratio, I assume we will see a total of 78,737 below-the-line votes.

Overall, when you apply the adjusted below-the-line percentages to the estimated total of 78,737 below-the-line votes, and add these votes to the above-the-line votes counted in the initial count, you get to the figures listed above.

If these figures are accurate, Animal Justice Party would be only 114 votes ahead of Liberal Hollie Hughes, and would need to close a 5162-vote gap on preferences. The AJP was given third preferences from the Greens, who would have about 35,000 remaining votes to be distributed.

It’s hard to see enough Greens votes flowing to Animal Justice to get them over the line. Firstly, a vast majority of votes exhaust. Secondly, there has been anecdotal reports from scrutineers that many Greens voters voted ‘1’ Greens and ‘2’ Cyclist Party, but didn’t bother to give a ‘3’ to Animal Justice as advised by the Greens. Thirdly, any Greens voters who chose to preference Labor before Animal Justice will become irrelevant. While Labor is easily on track to win their seventh seat, they are still 14% below quota, so will suck up any preferences that flow to them during the count.

Having said that, if the projection is slightly favourable to No Land Tax, we could see the gap become small enough to be bridged, or quite possibly the AJP could get enough preferences to fall short by 500-1000 votes, at which point a court challenge to the entire election could become a serious prospect.

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  1. If they eliminate Greens and Voluntary Euthanasia there is a chance that AJP get ahead of No Land Tax but wont they then eliminate the Lib which would presumably favour NLT ahead of AJP?

  2. My question is more around the rate of Voter Exhaustion. Remember that (on average) 40% of first preferences exhaust.

    @Ben Raue: I’m curious about your model. Can I ask what your preference assumptions are for the model? Not trying to pour scorn over the model but I’m very interested in it.

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