Tasmania 2021: the shift away from election day


We don’t yet have final voting figures, but enough has been reported to be able to get a sense of how much of a shift we have seen away from ordinary election day voting.

This has been a long-term trend that accelerated dramatically through 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing voters to vote early in person or via the post. You can see my numerous blog posts on this topic at this tag.

This trend has been far more gentle in the 2021 Tasmanian election, such that you couldn’t say for sure that it wouldn’t have happened anyway without a pandemic.

This first chart shows the raw number of formal votes per type of voting from 2010 to 2021. At the moment I haven’t been able to collect a breakdown of informal votes by method of voting for the 2021 election.

There is a slow gentle decline in the number of people casting an ordinary vote from 2010 to 2018, and that has accelerated in 2021. Bear in mind that the total number of votes increases at every election, so this decline is significant.

Now we don’t yet have every vote reported for the 2021 election, but it looks like the ordinary vote is complete. We are still waiting for out-of-division pre-poll votes, out-of-division votes and provisional votes, and I assume there are further postal votes yet to be counted.

Another way to look at these figures is to look at the numbers as a proportion of the total. This next chart shows that.

I have also included dotted lines showing my estimate of how much lower the proportion of ordinary votes and pre-poll votes will be once the out-of-division and provisional votes are added (assuming similar numbers to 2018).

The current ordinary vote percentage suggests a consistent decline over the last four elections, but that will look a bit more dramatic by the end of the count.

The proportion of ordinary voting is still one of the highest in Australia, compared to other jurisdictions where about half of all votes are cast on election day at an ordinary booth. Yet the decline is still happening, and it looks like that trend may have been slightly accelerated due to the pandemic.

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