NSW by-elections – postal votes surge


There is one unique feature of tomorrow’s by-elections in four NSW state electorates: postal ballots have been sent to every registered voter. Standard practice requires voters to request a ballot, but the problems with iVote at the December council elections prompted the NSW Electoral Commission to try something new.

The NSWEC has been publishing data each day on how many people in each electorate have either voted at pre-poll or returned their postal vote.

As of Thursday night, 16.5% of all voters had returned a postal vote, and 17.1% of voters had cast a pre-poll vote. That postal vote figure will increase significantly, since postal votes can continue to arrive after election day. The pre-poll vote will also increase with today’s votes. And both figures will end up being higher when calculated as a share of votes cast, rather than a share of eligible electors.

As a comparison, just 3.3% of all votes in these four seats in 2019 were cast by post, with 23.5% cast as a pre-poll vote. 5.9% of the vote was cast via iVote, which is not available this time.

Antony Green has collected this data on a day-by-day basis and compared it to other recent by-elections such as the Eden-Monaro federal by-election. There is normally a big spike in the final days, but that spike is not so present in these by-elections.

This will make it much harder to call the results on election night, since postal votes won’t be counted until next week, but hopefully we’ll have some sense of how things are going.

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  1. Given the much higher number of postal votes.. they will be much less pro coalition than normal. How do we measure whilst counting is in progress… estimation methods

  2. If there is a loss in Bega (which looks like the only seat changing hands at this stage), there will be questions raised between the need for ministers attempting to jump between state and federal governments.

  3. Eh, will be close but I’m tipping a narrow Lib hold in Bega at the moment. Morrison has had a horror few weeks but I’m skeptical that’s gonna rub off on Perrotet.

  4. I’ll predict a very close result in Bega – could go either way. A big swing in Monaro, bigger than Bega – more likely to fall than people think; an underwhelming result for Labor in Strathfield – just a couple of point swing; and finally, a 15% swing against the Liberals in Willoughby – Greens should come second. If not for OPV, the Liberals could be in danger of losing.

  5. Ben Raue made a big mistake

    The NSW government is not a stable majority its a minty government

    it currently holds 46 seats

    for a majority nsw government needs 47 seats

  6. I assume you’re referring to my Guardian piece? My original draft said “working majority”, but I stand by the final text.

    The government was only “in minority” before these by-elections as a technicality because 2 Liberals had moved to the crossbench but they were reliable votes for the government. If they lose 2 seats they’ll be in a totally different situation.

  7. I have long thought that to avoid all the election expenses nonsense candidates should register with the NSWEC and pay for an election pack that the NSWEC then send to each voter that details the methods, locations etc and details of candidates and any registered how to votes, provides a short blurb from them and then cross references back to a NSWEC hosted website where they can further spruik.

    No letter boxing etc no other expenses permitted. Preferably no handouts in the day either!


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