Dave by a bee’s foreskin?

Bryan “Ozpolitics” Palmer on the state of play with counting in doubtful seats as at 8:24 this morning:

The ABC Computer now has Robertson on the doubtful list (previously a Labor gain) after the pre-poll votes went in the Coalitions favour 53.3 to 46.7. It also has Solomon on the doubtful list after pre-poll votes broke 53.6 to 46.4 in the Coalitions favour.

Of the doubtful seats on the ABC computer, the Coalition is now ahead in Bowman, Dickson, La Trobe, Macarthur, McEwan, and Swan. Labor is ahead in Herbert, Robertson and Solomon.

Whereas the ABC computer has nine doubtful seats, the AEC only has seven. The AEC is not listing McEwan (Coalition retain) or Solomon (Labor gain) as doubtful. In McEwen, the pre-poll votes broke 55 to 45 in the Coalitions favour.

The ABC Computer is back to predicting 86 seats for Labor, down from its Monday high of 88. It is possible that the Labor win might end up being as low as 83 seats.

Bryan notes that the AEC was not listing Solomon (essentially Darwin and Palmerston) as a doubtful seat.  Well it is now.  As a result of the counting today of 1500 postal votes from overseas-serving military personnel, ALP candidate Damian Hale’s 2PP lead over CLP incumbent Dave Tollner has shrunk to just 428 votes. 

Moreover, there could be as many as 5888 outstanding declaration votes still to count (all but 279 of them being prepoll rather than postal votes).  If we apply the pre-poll vote percentages Bryan mentions above as the actual ones in counting to date (53.3 to 46.7), then on my calculation Damian Hale ends up winning by 39 votes!!!!  However, if we do a finer-grained calculation and apply the higher percentage of 60% (which must certainly have been achieved by the postals counted today) to the remaining 279 postal votes, and the lower 53.3% actual figure to date to the remaining (maximum number) 5609 pre-poll votes, Tollner ends up winning by just 1 vote!!!!  Tollner first won the seat by 88 votes in 2001.

PS Mind you I might be misinterpreting the figures.  The AEC page for outstanding declaration votes in Solomon shows 7979 pre-poll “envelopes issued”, 5506 “envelopes received” and 2370 pre-poll ballot papers counted so far.  But why are there so many more “envelopes” issued than returned?  I always thought that pre-poll votes were ones cast before election day at designated pre-polling stations (usually AEC offices).  If that’s right, why is there a discrepancy between the number of envelopes issued and received?  If they’re lodged on the spot and not sent through the post, you’d expect the numbers issued and received to coincide.  Are there any polling/scrutineering experts out there who can enlighten me?

Update (Thursday 5:21pm) – Hale’s lead in Solomon is down to just 262 votes after today’s counting.  500-odd pre-polls and 300-odd postals still to count, with a maximum of 1000 more postals still to arrive.  If just about all those postals end up arriving, the postal votes alone could conceivably eliminate Hale’s lead completely if they split 60/40, so it’s still very much a lineball result, a handful of votes either way will decide it.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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David Rubie
David Rubie
16 years ago

Aw, Ken, I liked the original headline.

Nicholas Gruen
16 years ago

The Senate is where most of the interest lies now. It’s not a done deal that the ALP will require all non Coalition Senators for a majority.

16 years ago

As a looooong time scrutineer, this sounds extremely dodgy to me.

In the old days (pre pre-poll voting), the AEC officials counted every ballot paper issued and after the count did the following calculation:-

if ( ( Issued – ( Returned + Spoiled ) ) > WinningMargin ) then goto Byelection;

And they were/are very serious about it. In my experience they go through the rubbish bins to retrieve the (small number of) ballot papers where voters have dumped them along with their how-to-vote cards in order to prevent the byelection.

[As an aside they also include the extremely small number of “votes” where people who aren’t on the rolls lodge an enrollment form on the day along with their vote – but that’s a very esoteric story for another day.]

It’s my understanding that if we’re looking at any election where the number of missing ballot papers exceed the winning margin there *has* to be a byelection.

Does anyone know if the pre-poll voting practice has changed this rule?

David Coles
David Coles
16 years ago

The worry on Tuesday was 350 votes to come in from Iraq. They counted 1,600 yesterday and Hale dropped by 300. With any luck the Iraq votes have come in and done their business. The view I have had is that there are now a maximum of 1,000 votes left to count, and possibly less.

Dave could still win but it looks as if Damian will do it, possibly by less than 50.

16 years ago

Bowman is teetering. Surely a few postals and absentees can’t take this long to count?

David Coles
David Coles
16 years ago

It is about waiting until they arrive Niall. I think the rules provide that a vote that is post marked prior to 6.00pm on election day has to be included. There is a statutory period I think, about 10 days. Normally it doesn’t matter because the outstanding votes can’t affect the result.