Early voting update


Today is the fourth day of pre-poll voting, and it seemed like a good time to check in on how many people have voted so far.

Postal vote applications continue to grow, and the total is currently 56% above the level at this time in 2019.

The amount of pre-poll voting over the last three days far exceeds numbers for the second-last week in previous elections, and overall the AEC has already received votes for almost 10% of all eligible voters.

All of these statistics are consistent with an increase in early voting, potentially resulting in more than half of all votes being cast before election day.

First up, let’s check in on postal voting. The AEC unfortunately doesn’t keep a day-by-day record of applications, and I haven’t grabbed the figures every day, but Damon Muller from the Parliamentary Library has, so I’ll share his tweet which shows the number of applications compared to previous years, and the numbers of votes returned (which usually hasn’t been provided at this point in past elections.

Over 2.4 million applications have been received so far. This compares to 1.55 million at this point in 2019, and a final total of 1.6 million. This translated into about 1.2 million postal votes in 2019, which was 8.5% of the total turnout.

Now onto pre-poll. It’s a bit hard to judge pre-poll because we lost the first week of voting from past elections. You’d expect some of the people who would’ve voted in that first week to shift to the first days of voting this time without necessarily increasing the numbers, but the trend does appear to suggest a record breaking number, or at least something close to the previous record from 2019.

After three days, over 950,000 voters have cast a pre-poll ballot. Interestingly Wednesday was down a bit on Monday and Tuesday, so we may have seen some pent-up enthusiasm to vote over the first two days. I still expect the number to keep climbing.

343,000 people voted pre-poll on Tuesday, which is higher than any number we've seen in a day of pre-poll voting in the second-last week before this year.

Overall the total number has already overtaken the figures from 2010, 2013 and 2016, but hasn't yet caught up with 2019.

Overall, at least 1.7 million Australians have voted already. It's probably more, because I expect there are hundreds of thousands of postal votes already in the mail but yet to be received by the AEC. 17.2 million Australians are enrolled to vote, so that is 9.94% of the total enrolment.

At current rates, over one million postal votes should be received by the end of the week, along with 1.5 million pre-poll votes. That's 2.5 million votes with one week to go, compared to almost 6 million postal and pre-poll votes lodged in 2019. Overall it still looks like the early vote will grow this time, but it's coming off an already high level.

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  1. Thanks for this Ben, very interesting and this trend can be read a number of different ways.

    I voted on Tuesday and my primary reason was I wanted to be done with it, so I can maintain some semblance of mental health. I would put myself in the political junkie category, but this election has broken my spirit. I no longer see politics as a vehicle for public good or a robust discussion of ideas and direction, so thank you both sides for destroying my faith in democracy. Nothing that either side say or do over the next two weeks will change my mind, so why delay the inevitable!

    You could take the position that this large early vote signals baseball bats at ten paces, but my gut still does not sense this is the case. But neither can I say that everyone will be away from their electorate on the day and something is otherwise motiving them to act now, rather than on the day.

  2. I have a question – which may clearly reveal that I’m a novice to this site, if not Australian democracy itself (both true – I’m a non-citizen and can’t vote).

    But from closely following recent Australian polls, I previously understood that only votes cast on election day are counted on the night, and that the figure we finally get to around 10pm is far from the complete picture. On the basis of the trend Ben is outlining here, that situation will be even more pronounced this year. So if my assumption is correct, why?

    Why can’t AEC’s counters start work earlier on the day? I get that they can’t do so any any earlier for security concerns. But whats preventing them from getting a head start on the accumulated pre-polls?

  3. They can this year, opening and sorting of prepoll votes to first preference will be allowed from 4pm, counting of those votes can start at 6, which means we should get prepolls coming in earlier.

  4. Thank you. Very interesting … as Neil Flanagan commented, I voted early today (Thursday) and one reason is exactly like Neil comments, I know nothing between now and election day is going to change my vote cast. Actually I could have voted on the day the election was called

  5. Last election they also started counting prepolls on the night IIRC, but I think later, maybe from about 9pm.

  6. They do count pre-polls on the night, but they don’t count postal votes.

    This year they will start opening boxes and sorting from 4pm and counting from 6pm. In the recent past pre-poll votes were counted from 6pm, but it tends to take longer to finish them since they are in larger batches.

  7. Neil Flanagan’s earlier comment echoes my feelings precisely. I voted at 9am on Monday … and it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

  8. Did some digging with the Pre-Poll CSV from the AEC this morning.

    Here are the Top 10 Divisions by Pre-Poll votes far as of End of May 12th:

    1. Hinkler (QLD) – 18,060 votes
    2. Brand (WA) – 17,714
    3. Gilmore (NSW) – 16,902
    4. Paterson (NSW) – 16,271
    5. Richmond (NSW) – 15,111
    6. Gippsland (VIC) – 14,359
    7. Eden-Monaro (NSW) – 13,908
    8. Indi (VIC) – 13,836
    9. Sydney (NSW) – 13,666
    10. Longman (QLD) – 13,648

    Note: This list does not take into consideration the total enrolled electors in each division and might over-emphasize populous divisions.

  9. “whats preventing them from getting a head start on the accumulated pre-polls?”

    They do need to count in the presence of scrutineers, which means the information could get out early. The rule exists because of concern that such information might sway someone who is still yet to vote.


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