Brisbane 2020 – election-day turnout crashes


The election results from Brisbane have been pretty messy so I haven’t tried to stay on top of all of it. At the moment it looks like Labor, the Greens and the independent have retained the 7 wards they currently hold and the LNP is leading in all 19 of their wards. There are three wards the ABC has listed as “in doubt” while we wait for some more concrete results and those are the three I’d be watching.

I wanted to look at a different angle, so I downloaded all of the voting data by booth (not as easy as I would have liked) for Brisbane and compared it to the 2016 results to get a sense of how turnout has changed.

When you look by category, it looks like only about one quarter of eligible voters would have cast a vote on election day, while the pre-poll rate tripled to more than 36% of eligible voters. With more postal and telephone votes yet to be counted, it seems possible that early votes will make up more than half of the eligible electorate, and about two thirds of total votes.

To keep things simple I just looked at the mayoral vote count (which is further advanced than council vote counts, although in some booths we only have council results).

We aren’t close to the end of the first count. We don’t yet have any absent votes reporting for the mayoral election, and we only have postal votes in 17 out of 26 wards (and those won’t be close to the final count in those wards that have some figures). Most pre-poll booths have reported some mayoral figures, bug I don’t know whether there is more to report from those categories.

We don’t yet have many mobile votes and we have no telephone votes. The ECQ reported that around 40,000 people across Queensland had registered to cast a telephone vote, but we don’t know how many were in Brisbane. Last time around only 151 voters in Brisbane cast a telephone vote.

All the same, when you look at turnout by category you can see that the ordinary election-day vote has collapsed and the pre-poll vote has shot up.


This count is far from finished. We don’t have absent votes, and we don’t have postals, and we don’t have a figure for the telephone vote. But it does look like most ordinary and pre-poll votes have been counted, and they show barely 36% of the 2016 ordinary vote has continued to use this method. I would expect a similar drop in the share of absent votes, possibly resulting in about one quarter of eligible voters casting a vote on election day. The pre-poll vote has tripled to more than one third.

It is also hard to see turnout reaching the same level as 2016, so it seems likely that less voters overall have turned out.

If we assume that absent votes will make up 2.5% of the electorate, and postal votes will make up 15% (a conservative estimate), with telephone votes making up 1.2% (about 10,000 votes), that would leave pre-poll, postal and telephone votes with just over 50% of the total eligible electorate, and election-day votes with just under 25%.

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  1. Nice social distancing in evidence then!
    Would have been very disappointed to have seen a higher “Ordinary” count than that.

  2. Thanks for this Ben. In case it helps, the number of telephone votes cast in Paddington this time was 287.

    I’ve been told there were approx 7300 postal ballots sent out. Don’t know how many will come back of course – only about 3300 counted so far.

    All absentees & prepolls were finished today. (Absentees on polling day were rolled into all absentee prepolls – the only prepoll counts separated out are the local in-district one + the City Hall one. The total I have for all that is 9153, although I’m missing an informal figure for one so it’d be over 9200

  3. Adrian Jackson
    You are old enough to remember the rorting of Union elections by the Coms.
    Postal voting is inherrintly prone too rigging.

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