NSW 2019 – early preference decisions


Today is the third of day of voting in the NSW state election, with pre-poll booths opening around the state.

I dropped in to the biggest pre-poll booth at Sydney Town Hall on Monday morning to collect all of the how-to-votes that were available, and grabbed a couple more this afternoon.

I’ve been running a lengthy Twitter thread posting all of these how-to-votes as pictures, supplemented by submissions from others and some stuff I found by contacting candidates directly.

You can follow that thread to see all of the how-to-votes in full, but I’m going to briefly summarise what I found.

I have managed to track down most of the progressive parties’ how-to-votes, but I’m still lacking how-to-votes for right-wing parties like the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Australian Conservatives, Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats.

Labor has done well on preferences from the Greens and other minor progressive parties. The Greens are directing preferences in all 93 seats, and in every case they are preferencing Labor above the Coalition. The Greens NSW delegate this decision to local groups, so this suggests a clear consensus in the party to favour Labor, and likely reflects a deal with Labor.

Keep Sydney Open are preferencing Labor over the Coalition in the 42 seats where they are running. They are preferencing the incumbent in all non-government seats, which means they are favouring the Greens in Newtown, Balmain and Ballina but Labor in Summer Hill (they are not running in Lismore). I have only seen Animal Justice Party how-to-votes for a handful of seats but it appears they are also preferencing Labor over the Coalition.

These decisions are reflected in Labor’s upper house how-to-vote, which goes to Greens second, then Animal Justice, then Keep Sydney Open. This would be consistent with Labor swapping upper house preferences for favourable lower house preferences with these three parties. The Greens also favour Animal Justice and Keep Sydney Open just after Voluntary Euthanasia, with Labor fifth and Socialist Alliance sixth.

Animal Justice and Keep Sydney Open appear to be part of a preference deal with Sustainable Australia for their upper house preferences. KSO and Sustainable Australia swap their second preferences, with Animal Justice third on the KSO how-to-vote and fourth for Sustainable Australia. Animal Justice go to the other two parties second and third on their recommendations. AJP and KSO then flow to Greens and Labor as fourth and fifth, but Sustainable Australia is on the outer with the bigger progressive parties.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Party is not part of this pact, with no lower house candidates and an upper house how-to-vote which recommends no preferences. Ex-Greens independent MLC Jeremy Buckingham likewise exhausts his preferences. Socialist Alliance preference all of the parties mentioned in the above preference pacts as well as Voluntary Euthanasia and Buckingham. They are the only party I have found giving a preference to Buckingham, despite his loud denunciations of ‘socialists’ in his former party.

If we move over to the right, the Liberal/Nationals coalition is not directing any preferences on the statewide how-to-vote they use at Sydney Town Hall, but they are marking preferences for the seat of Sydney on the local how-to-vote, so it’s possible the statewide how-to-vote is an interim measure and there could be different preferences revealed later.

Mark Latham’s One Nation and Angela Vithoulkas’ Small Business Party have both recommended no upper house preferences.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you see interesting how-to-votes please take a photo. You can tweet them at me, or upload the photo online and link to it in a comment below.

I’m particularly interested in upper house preferences for right-wing minor parties which haven’t been mentioned in this post, and interesting lower house preferences – evidence of a trend where a minor party with a lot of candidates is indicating the same preferences in multiple seats, or evidence of the Coalition indicating preferences, or how preferences shake out in rural seats between the Shooters, Labor and independents.

Next Monday we will be able to access all of the materials which have been registered to be used on election day, although that won’t necessarily confirm exactly how parties are preferencing, since it’s permissible for a candidate to register multiple how-to-votes with contradictory preference recommendations, and we may not know which recommendations will be handed out on the day until they are being handed out. I’ll be sure to update you when we know more.

EDIT: The Liberal Democrats how-to-votes are on their website. They are not directing preferences in the upper house (although they do recommend preferences). In the lower house they are generally preferencing the Coalition ahead of rivals in seats like Barwon, Orange and Holsworthy, but they are preferencing independent Judy Hannan ahead of the Liberal in Wollondilly.

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


  1. Hey Ben,
    The Liberals website has how to vote cards for each of the individual members. Seems to be vote 1 Liberal in most seats in the lower house. With the upper house having them only direct to the Christian Democrats.

  2. Nice to see Labor doesn’t seem to be doing any dodgy preference swaps with far right micros like they did with the Australian Conservatives in the Vic and SA elections. Doing that is just counter productive and doesn’t sit well with either the left or the centre, or even the centre-right for that matter. I don’t expect Labor to go easy on the Greens in the hotly contested seats that the two parties go up against each other in, or the Greens to go easy on Labor, but the two should always preference the other somewhere ahead of any right wing party. That’s what the Greens almost always do and it’s nice to see NSW Labor has decided to do the same. Even in contests like Ballina for example where the Greens are fighting both Labor and the Coalition (Nats) they still prefrence Labor ahead of the right. Obviously the Greens and Labor both want to win the seat and defeat the other party, but prefrencing each other somewhere above the right is an insurance policy of sorts. There’s also a big campaign to “put the Nationals last” which could play a huge role in Ballina and Lismore.

  3. Firefox I agree all parties should preference on basis of ideology and vote swapping shoul not result in ideological enemies from being elected. However can anyone see Pauline Hanson preferencing the candidates she endorsed at last election and after the drubbing she has given them they are unlikely to Preference her.
    Any party that preferences fascists or communists ahead of all other candidates deserves no support.
    Andrew Jackson

  4. Ben

    I’m the Greens candidate in Monaro. There was no deal with Labor. No negotiations. No discussions. Yes, they repeatedly asked us (me), but we made our own decision. And we made it before we knew what they were doing. I strongly suspected they would recommend preferencing the Shooters, but I was wrong – they recommended Greens then Shooters, a weird look, and purely symbolic in this seat. Wouldn’t have bothered us if they’d made no recommendation or recommended 1 for Labor and nothing else, because we’re not in the running in this seat.


  5. Also so called preference deals only generally assist the two major parties as they are usually the last two candidate standing after preferences of the other candidates are distributed. First past the post is good like in the UK but optional preferential is best as a voter has today control over his/her vote.

  6. Ben

    I can’t speak for the state level (upper house/legislative council), as I simply don’t know. Whether or not there was a deal for the upper house, that had no influence on the Monaro preference recommendation – it can’t have done if we don’t know if there was a deal or what it was!

    In the past we have been asked to give up our autonomous decision, to kind of delegate it up to the state office, but in this election I don’t recall being asked, and we certainly didn’t do it…


  7. Adrian

    preference deals involving Labor, National or Liberal can help other parties, as the excess votes from those three can flow on to the others, potentially as much as 99% of a quota. Because the Old Parties attract very large numbers of votes from the rusted-on and the lazy, their excesses can represent quite large numbers. Ben may be able to flesh this out better than me, as he’s the numbers person.


  8. Peter – The major parties, including the Greens (you forgot them above), are not interest in votes going to minor parties or independents. The want their preference to go to the majors. When I vote it is for the candidate I want not a 2rd or 3rd etc choice candidate.

  9. Adrian

    tha’s an opinion, not a fact. Where there’s a decent independent with a chance of winning, The Greens probably want their votes to flow to that candidate. A prime example would be Andrew Wilkie, a far better MP than any Labor, National or Liberal.


Comments are closed.