The button has been pressed on the Victorian upper house election, producing a shock result: the DLP has won TWO seats, in Northern Metropolitan as well as Western Victoria. Evan Thornley has just got over the line in Southern Metropolitan. So the final numbers are Labor 19, Liberal 15, Nationals 2, Greens 2, DLP 2. The defeated Labor hopefuls are Elaine Carbines in Western Victoria and Nazih Elasmar in Northern Metropolitan, while Thornley’s seat comes at the expense of the number three Liberal candidate, David Southwick. Hat tip to Antony Green and Andrew Landeryou.
UPDATE (6.25pm): I am informed that the ALP doesn’t think the Northern Metropolitan result looks right and have called for a recount, whatever that might entail.
UPDATE (10.02pm): Andrew Landeryou reports: "ALP strategists are convinced now that the VEC has made a serious error in the northern metropolitan count. It appears that there might be an issue with the calculation of Democrats preferences. VEC sources tell the OC they have hired hundreds of people for re-counting tomorrow".
UPDATE (13/12/06): Alternatively, Antony Green notes the apparent last-minute counting of 8000 above-the-line votes that overwhelmingly favoured the Liberals. This would have increased the quota and reduced the size of the Greens surplus flowing to Labor, leaving them just short of a third quota and allowing the DLP to mop up the remainder.
UPDATE II (13/12/06): Antony Green again, with a potential explanation for those last-minute Liberal votes: "The VEC believes up to 6,000 Liberal votes in Northern Metropolitan may have been double counted. With the integrity of the count in doubt, an entire re-count is being undertaken".
UPDATE III (13/12/06): Via Andrew Landeryou, the following memo to Northern Metropolitan candidates from electoral commissioner Steve Tully:
Following a thorough check of the count sheet for Northern Metropolitan Region, I am sufficiently concerned about the underlying integrity of the Liberal vote in that region to require a recount of all ballot papers.
It is my preliminary view that the Liberal Party vote is overstated by about 6,000 votes and that such an overstatement could have a profound effect on the result.
In order to give parties and candidates time to arrange scrutineers, this recount will commence at 6:00 pm at MECC and will probably conclude around 3 am. The result following the recount will be recalculated.
This recount is in addition to the recounts where arrangements are already in place for Western Victoria and Western Metropolitan Regions.
I have scrutinised the count sheets and ballot paper reconciliations for the other 5 Regions and consider that there are no issues to consider. These will proceed with the current declaration arrangements.
Further, it remains the intention that the recounts will be conducted in time so as not to delay the previously arranged declarations.
UPDATE IV (13/12/06): I have heard rumours of a VEC data entry error which saw a 0 entered as a 6, explaining the mysterious late surge in the Liberal vote in Northern Metropolitan; and also of another problem with the original distribution of preferences that had no bearing on the result. However, the ABC reports that "Commissioner Tully has rejected suggestions the Northern Metropolitan result has come from a computer error". But an explanation of some sort is required for those 8000 votes, three-quarters of which went to the Liberal Party, appearing in the count on the final day. The recount is expected to be completed very late this evening, perhaps in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.