Early voting update


The Australian Electoral Commission is publishing daily statistics on the number of postal vote applications (PVAs) received, and the number of votes cast at pre-poll centres. After six weeks of the campaign, and one week of pre-poll, we now have a sense of the trend in early voting.

Postal voting is roughly on track to make up a similar share of the vote as in 2013, while there’s a significant increase in prepoll voting, in addition to the big surges we’ve seen at the last few elections.

Firstly, let’s look at pre-poll. Pre-poll voting commenced last Tuesday, so we’ve had four days of voting (no voting took place on the weekend). Bear in mind that some booths don’t open until this week, or even next week.

So far, we’ve had at least 309,000 votes cast at pre-poll centres. As a comparison, 183,000 votes were cast at pre-poll in the first four days of voting in 2013, and just over 100,000 were cast in the first week in 2010.

That’s a 69.1% increase, or a 58.8% increase if you factor in increased enrolment. If this trend continues until election day, you’d expect about 28.7% of votes to be cast at pre-poll in 2016.

We aren’t seeing any similar surge in numbers for postal votes. We don’t have a perfect comparison between 2013 and 2016, because votes have been received over a longer time period in 2016. As of yesterday, 1.27 million postal vote applications have been received. At the same point twelve days out from the 2013 election, 1.15 million applications had been received, with another 177,000 yet to come. This suggests that postal votes will slightly exceed the numbers in 2013.

The AEC has also released data on the source of postal vote applications, including which party submitted the application in the case of voters who filled out a party’s form.

The majority of postal votes are effectively sourced through the AEC. About 260,000 people are registered as “general postal voters“, who are automatically registered for a postal vote at every election – this is an increase of about 12.7% since 2013.

About 537,000 applications were sent directly to the AEC. This is almost exactly as many as were received in 2013, but the type of application has changed dramatically. Over 150,000 applications were received in paper form by the AEC in 2013, and this number is now less than 10,000. There has been a subsequent surge in online applications, so that the proportion of applications direct to the AEC which take place online has jumped from 71.2% to over 98%.

The Coalition makes up the bulk of the remaining applications. In 2013, just over 30% of all applications came from Coalition parties, while this number is slightly down to 28% in 2016. Labor submitted 11.5% of applications in 2013, and this has also dropped to 8%.

There have been increases in the number of applications processed by the Greens and other small parties, but they remain a small part of the picture.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!


  1. All voting applications should be directly from the AEC – Formal!
    No party should be allowed to receive postal voting applications. What has happened here? The Party’s are encroaching far too often into what is beginning to appear more like Corporate Branding and Control over unbiased formal process with too much advertising on forms and at polling booths.

  2. And pre-polls jumped substantially into the second week with up to 140,000 per day.
    Now just under 900,000 pre-poll votes – with a week to go in the campaign

  3. 1.8 million votes by pre-poll by the 28th and 1.5 million (roughly) Postal Vote applications.

    We probably won’t get to the lofty predictions of 4.5 million voters going pre-poll, but if we did, that would make election night forecasts a bit more difficult.

  4. Don’t think it will be far off PeteD.

    On pre-poll Mon 27/6 and Tue 28/6 added 275k, 268k respectively. Repeat that and you’re at 2.6million pre-poll and I suspect the numbers will only go-up over the last three days (in 2013 Wed-Fri was 2.5x Mon-Tue (up 65% per day). If that was repeated you get to 3.1m)

    Then add the 1.5million postal (unlikely to increase much more) and you are definitely over 4m.

    Looking at the bellwether Eden Monaro for example
    2013 formal votes 89,300
    2016 Postals – 8395 (9.4%) (at 28/6)
    2016 Prepoll – 14652 (16.4%) (at 28/6) with 7140 (8.0%) over Mon/Tue

    IF Wed-Fri do another 4% each day, you could be at 37.8% of the formal vote count (assuming postals/pre-polls are formal), or almost 45% if it increases like 2013

    Hope the AEC has put lots of staff in the central counting stations

  5. In-electorate pre-polls are now “ordinary votes” and counted on election night, and that would be the bulk of them.

  6. I hear in some electorates a quarter of the vote hAd occurred by close of prepoll on Tuesday.

  7. Another 362k on Thu (and some revisions to early numbers – eg. Wed now 359k, Tue 290k, Mon 277k) takes total to 2.54 million

    Postals excluding withdrawn/pending at 1.51 million

    So total of 4.05 million votes, with Friday 1/7 to go.

    4.5 million total pre-votes looking very much on the money

  8. It will be interesting to see how the pre-polling numbers influence the final result. If there really has been a swing in support over the last week, favouring the Liberals, we might see pre-polls favouring Labor compared with the typical proportions.

  9. Today’s Essential poll broke down their result into those who had already voted vs those who hadn’t yet.

    “Already Voted”: LNP 45, Labor 33, Greens 10, Assorted others 12, LNP 54-46
    “Yet to Vote”: LNP 41, Labor 35, Greens 12, Assorted others 12%, ALP 51-49.

    So that would oddly seem to suggest the LNP vote was stronger earlier on!

    However in 2013, the pre-polls saw a stronger Greens and a weaker Labor vote than ordinary votes, with Coalition roughly the same. So it is possible that Essential’s “yet to vote” is under-estimating the Lib vote and over-estimating the Greens.

  10. Mark – There are general patterns of which parties do better on which types of voting. For instance, postal votes tend to strongly favour the Liberals over Labor.

    If you look at HoR votes in 2013, Pre-Poll votes for Labor were 30.11%, compared with 33.82% for Ordinary votes (on the day, in electorate). Meanwhile, Liberal (not LNP) got 33.3% compared with 31.77% for Ordinary.

    So Pre-poll typically does better for Liberals. Not so much for Nationals, which do better in Ordinary votes (and LNP are generally about the same between the two). Postal votes work similarly to Pre-poll for Labor, Liberal, and National, but LNP tend to do better on postal.

    Greens also typically do better in the Pre-poll votes. And similar patterns were seen in 2010. In 2007, it was a little different, but Labor still is most negatively impacted in pre-poll numbers.

    That’s why I said “compared with the typical proportions”.

  11. Given the large increase in numbers pre-poll, suspect much of previous trend is less relevant as the increase can only come from previously ordinary voters.

    That said I’d still expect pre-poll to skew Liberal and as the biggest ‘booth’ in most electorates I would not be surprised to see a large swing to Labor early that diminishes as the count continues

  12. And a big Friday for pre-poll as expected – 421k.

    Taking pre-poll to 2.98m, adding to the 1.51m postals…

    So 4.49m total pre-votes

Comments are closed.