Merry Christmas

Activity at this site will be pretty light in the coming month or so, as I will be hard at work on my guide to the March 24 New South Wales election (among other things). I will at some point knock together a preview of the by-election to be held for the Western Australian state seat of Peel on February 3. For those seeking an overview of the recent Victorian election, you could do a lot worse than this effort by Nick Economou of Monash University, brought to you by the good people at Democratic Audit.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

154 comments on “Merry Christmas”

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  1. Nick Ecomomu was being kind but never the less critical on the VEC and its conduct of the election referring to its as being “farcical”. Parliament should refer the Commission’s report to a parliamentary committee for review and seek public submissions. Questions must be asked Why had the commission withheld information pertinent to the conduct of the election and why have they refused to publish the various count sheets and voters transcribed preference electronic data files. Public Elections MUST be open and transparent and details of the result MUST be subject to public review and analysis.

  2. William The following information has just been brought to my attention

    Section of the Victorian Electoral Act states

    123. Election information
    (1) The number of first preference votes given for
    each candidate and the details of distribution of
    preference votes must be available from the office
    of the Commission.

    Whilst the wording could be clearer and properly should be reviewed but this along with the previous orders of the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal clearly indicates that the Victorian Electoral Commission has a Statutory Obligation and requirement to ensure that details of the distribution of preferences of votes is able for public review and scrutiny. The details of distribution of preferences would include the detailed preference electronic data file and not just the summary count sheet. Question now is has the Victorian Electoral Commission complied with the provision of the Victorian Electoral Act by not making this information available as required. Why has the VEC refused to date to provide this information?

    we have again written to Paul Thornton Smith and the Victorian Electoral Commission requesting that the details and copies of the preference data files and count sheets be published and made available without delay.

  3. You are asking for the wrong thing. There is no obligation on them to publish this info, either in newspapers or on the web. The obligation is to make it available, which they have done. I suggest you get on your bike (or as you are in the ALP, in your SS Commodore) and go over to the VEC in little collins (Level 8, 505) and pick up your free CD for upper house results. We in the greens picked up our CD same day the result was known. I suspect those in the ALP who have a clue got theirs the same day too. Apparantly they don’t have a CD for lower house cos it is small enough to go on the web and be made available on paper.

    The reason the upper house data is not on the web is probably becuase it comes on a CD that is in a proprietary format and requiers a windows application to run before you can read it. Now that is something that is worth complaining about.

  4. From what I can tell from the pre-recount spreadsheet published by Melb City, in West Met their were 1888 votes that exhausted prior to the final elimination. As the Greens and the ALP were still in the hunt at this point, the majority of those I anticipate would have been conservative votes.

    I think we can safely assume that, given the narrow win of the Greens over the ALP in West Met (reportedly less than 100 votes), the number of exhausted votes cost the ALP that seat. Had the conservative BTL voters fully elaborated their preferences as would be required under CPV, then I suspect most of them would have preferenced the ALP ahead of the Greens even though both would have been towards the bottom of their ticket.

    There would be a clearly distinguishable preference for most of these voters, but because the minimal requirement for formality was to number only 5 candidates, that preference was not expressed.

    Thus OPV has prevented the option for the ALP to create a productive majority with the DLP and now must seek Greens assent to progressive legislation. How sad.

    This must be fixed.

  5. Here we go. Another OPV-is-evil moan.

    Ray, in the lower house seats where a Labor/Greens run-off eventuated, the vast majority of “conservative” preferences favoured the Greens. (see Melbourne, Richmond et al)

    So that runs contrary to your expectation that most would prefer the ALP to get up in such a situation.

    Now you might argue that they were simply blindly following their Liberal HTV cards. I agree. But that just gives weight to the view that most simply couldn’t give a stuff when it comes to choosing between Labor and the Greens.

    Thus choosing to let their vote exhaust is a perfectly legitimate option in that situation.

  6. Quite simply, all votes should give a preference of one candidate over any other candidate – voters should number every box.

    Apathy is another issue and needs to be dealt with between elections, not on the ballot box with OPV.

  7. David… People who “blindly follow the HTV cards” are not included in this assessment because they are all ATL voters, and of the BTL voters many exhausted votes may not have been Liberal votes as the second Liberal candidate was still in the count. Most BTL voters are discerning and can easily distinguish between left and extreme left. So your assertion that most of these voters “simply couldn’t give a stuff when it comes to choosing between Labor and the Greens” is unfounded.

    This false premise invalidates your conclusion that OPV is “a perfectly legitimate” system.

    It is only not “evil” if people understand that not to elaborate all their real preferences beyond the minimum for formality (even if it means distinguishing between bad and worse) means their vote may not have any say in determining the ultimate winner. Unfortunately, while many may have educated themselves to make a descerning political judgement, not as many would understand the intricacies of the Hare-Clark electoral system.

    This indeterminate result now has determined the whole dynamics of the parliament.

  8. Ray, these voters are, as you would have it, on the one hand discerning because they’ve chosen the below-the-line option. But on the other hand, they’re not discerning because they haven’t maximised the value of their vote.

    You’ve made a pretty bold assumption about just what level of understanding these voters have. You refuse to even entertain the idea that they may have chosen to abstain between two undesirable choices. I’m sure you’ve read Antony Green’s example of the high informal rate resulting from a two horse race between Labor and the Communist Party.

    Any favor for one party over the other would be lukewarm at best. That’s why they haven’t numbered either square. I feel safe in the assumption that most would take no great pleasure in a Labor candidate defeating a Green or vice-versa. And far from not having “any say in determing the ultimate winner”, their vote has most likely already elected a couple of candidates.

  9. If they abstain because the remaining candidates are of equal “badness” that they could not be bothered ordering them, then what you say is valid. We are both making assumptions about what the voter did or didn’t intend. That’s why I disposition the election “indeterminate”.

    It would not surprise me (nor you I suspect) if a lot of voters simply chose there top five candidates, in order to caste a formal vote, oblivious to the fact that not to distinguish between their less favoured candidates may permit their least favoured candidate to get elected. Therefore their unstated will is not expressed in the count.

    For Hare-Clark to express the will of the electorate (and I hope that’s what we are all after) it relies on folk ordering all their real preferences in order, and this requires voter education. We are a long way from that point, nor should we rely on that.

    As for education: If a vote has already contributed to the election of a candidate then it is not an exhausted vote !, and again is not considered in this assessment.

  10. And to add to the physical nature of the count the distortion of the paper/integer based surplus transfer value.

    Paul Thornton-smith has read my FOI application and the longer the VEC takes to provide the details of the election results and the preference data files the more the VEC will be held in contempt. Section 123 of the Electoral Act along with the previously stated legal presidence and ruling of a senior member of VCAT is clear.

    In discussing this with a number of members of Parliament I am told that the conduct of the election and electoral commissioner will be raised at the next meeting of the state parliamentary electoral committee. We are already briefing our solicitors in anticipation of Mr Tully’s continued denial b y refusing to provide the details of the results of the election. its disgraceful and continues to bring the state election and the conduct of the electoral commission into disrepute. I believe that Steve Tully’s conduct wants his resignation. The longer he delays the longer this debate will continue.

  11. Ray, why can’t you get your terminology right if you know so much about how important Hare-Clark is. Hare-Clark, which is the system used in both Tasmania and the ACT, uses optional preferential voting. In the ACT, only 1 preference is required, though the ballot instructs to give 5 or 7 preferences. In Tasmania, 5 preferences are required.

    The Senate and Victorian LC system is not Hare-Clark. Hare-Clark as it has worked since 1909 does not have ticket voting, uses optional preferential voting and uses the simple Gregory method in determining surpluses, not the Senate’s Inclusive Gregory method. Several features added since 1909 are now also seen as integral to the system, including the grouping of candidates by party (introduced in the 1940s), the rotation of candidates (introduced around 1980) and the banning on how-to-vote cards (early 1980s).

    If you want a generic term for the Senate style voting, the usual term in world-wide literature is PR-STV (Proportional Representation by Single Transferable Vote). It has often been called Quota Preferential Voting in Australia. But Hare-Clark it ain’t, which is based on optional preferential voting.

    Three states (NSW, QLD, TAS) plus one territory (ACT) use OPV and three states and one territory use compulsory preferences.

    The distinguishing features of Hare-Clark see it put forward as the world’s fairest electoral system, which is why your mis-labelling in the Senate/VIC LC system as Hare-Clark is so wrong.

  12. Those interested in obtaining the detailed results and a copy of the preference data files can try and contact

    Paul Thornton-Smith
    Senior Information and Research Officer
    Communication, Education and Research Branch
    Tel (03) 9299 0732

    Paul Thorn smith is the FOI officer for the VEC. You might like to draw his attention to section 123 of the electoral act and the need to ensure that Victorian elections are open and transparent and subject or public scrutiny and review.

  13. Fix the calculation of the surplus transfer value first and then worry about terminology. The reference to “preferential voting” as the “alternative vote” is a BS description in the same way that referring to the various hybrid systems by there varous names failes to outline the basic differences. The principle is clear the voting system MUST be one vote one value and with the use of a computer based election we no longer need to support an integer based election count. It is time that the government and media commentators moved into the 21st century and supported legislation that gives recognition to the Internet as a means of delivering information and ensuring open and transparent democracy.

  14. A voter who dislikes the ALP, its candidates, practices and policies just as much as she hates the Liberal party should not be forced to make a choice between them and thereby assist in the election of a candidate who she detests.

    Far better for a vote to cease to count where the voter is incapable of making a preference of one over the other. To do otherwise leads to the final choice between the two being determined on a toss of a coin, which is hardly the intention of a democractic election. By forcing voters to make that choice, all you do is increase the risk of informal votes and make the outcome unrepresentative of people’s true wishes.

  15. hare Clark is well and truly out of date. It uses a flawed surplus transfer system designed to make the manual counting of the vote easier in the days when there was no computer support. Just like the PR societies flawed last bundle distribution neither of which I can support. Ideally we need to standardise the counting practices but we should not be supporting systems that are out of date and flawed in their execution or reporting.

    The VEC had told us that their computerised counting system was designed to avoid data-entry errors. Yeah right and the Titanic was designed not to sink.

    The VEC has conned us into thinking that their system was infallible.

    Scrutineers and some candidates sat there watching the data entry process and never once thought of obtaining a copy of the data files and checking the validity of the information. A bit like watching a con man and the pea under three shells game.

    The VEC originally claimed that their software could not export the data, another lie. It was not until questions as to the VEC software meeting industry standards was raised in the parliament that the VEC then started to provide the detailed preference data. For some reason, having previously stated that they would be providing this information as required under section 123 of the Electoral Act, they are now refusing to publish it.

    We were told by Antony Green and others (including Andrew Landeryou) that the error in Northern Metro was due to a data-entry error. We were told that the problem was instead of entering in 40666 the VEC staff punched in 46666 inflating the Liberal party vote. The system failed to check that the total number of votes recorded matched the number of ballots issued and instead of coming to a halt with a warning message it continued on producing a false count. How many other errors in data transcription occurred.

    No one has provided an explanation as to where in the count the VEC was required to enter in the value of 40666 votes. The Liberal Party ATL votes was in the 70,000 mark not 40,000. Did they mean to say 76666 instead of 70666?

    As Nick Economu indicated the conduct of this election was farcical and beyond a joke and incompentant.

    The publication of the XML data file was no better.

    It was missing details of the Legislative Council polling center data and still does not match the results of the published overall results. Information on the number of postal, absentee and section votes issued is missing. (Yes we can calculate the number of postal, absent and section votes recorded as being received for the lower house but that is different to the number of votes issued). How many votes were received by the VEC after the deadline and as such excluded from the count?

    Why was this information not available prior to and soon after the November poll? Why were candidates and campaign managers and scrutineers denied this information? Why was this information not poublished and registered in the VEC computers system to provide a very important check that all votes had been accounted for before procesing to count the vote?

    Again the conduct of this election had more negatives then positives. The worst in recent history.

  16. Candidate were allowed to view the proceeding from an observation room. They were not perrmited in the room with the ballot papers. Althougn I do recall Geoff Leigh once entering a count room and handling ballot papers.

  17. Sean Says:

    December 20th, 2006 at 9:27 am

    Apparantly they don’t have a CD for lower house cos it is small enough to go on the web and be made available on paper.

    The reason the upper house data is not on the web is probably becuase it comes on a CD that is in a proprietary format and requiers a windows application to run before you can read it. Now that is something that is worth complaining about.

    BS the information is available in excell spreedsheet format. The count sheet will fit on a floppy disk (See the copies of the dodgy provisonal count sheets on

    I have requested a copy and the VEC has not responded. the lobegr thet=y dont repsond the longer i will continue to voice my concerns on this issue. The VEC has no obligation to provide the media or publish any information on the results of the election on the internet if you take the argmument you spouse.

    Do you have a copy of the BTL prefernce data? Please send me a zipped
    up copy and I will publish it. The VEC should publish it save money and keep the public informed. Instead the continue to avoid accountability. I ma waiting their reply.

  18. The VEC should also provide information on the lower house results including electronic preference data those electorates where they conducted a computerised count. the information/data is not proprietary as you suggest it is a public document. this is the same argument that the City of Melbourne tried to spouse having spent over $60,000 and failed to prevent the right of the public to obtain copies. the Act requires that it be made available it bis a question of whether they are acting ion good faith and the method of delivery. Email is by far cheaper and the Internet even cheaper again.

  19. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but as I found errors in the VEC’s count, I told them rather than rant on this website. I found it more productive.

  20. Optional Preferential Voting is OK if you had a value based surplus and a reiterative count that adjusted the Quota every count. I am all in favour of scrapping the ATV system or allowing the ability to preferential vote ATL. The group sing of candidates is a good thing. Robson rotation is over stated OK for a state that’s the size of a municipality. What Tasmania needs is good clean HydoElectricty. 🙂

  21. Antony, If the VEC showed they were professional and acted in good faith then I would not have the need to complain.

    The fact is they screwed up and should be held accountable as a result.

    I have been on about the need for the VEC to publish the details of the election results for well over ten years.

    They started to provide this information but now have taken a step backwards since Tully took over as Cheif Commisisoner. the numb er fo complaints I have recieved about tully is considerable adn all point tyo teh same conclusion.

    There comes a time when then only course of a action is to put it in the public record.

    Do you have the details of the election results, do you support the policy of not publishing the detailed results? Maybe if you had access to this information and the polling place data your analysis would have been more accurate. Why does the VEC refuse to publish this information?

    Why did they not provide the statistics on Postal votes when requested and Why did the not check that the number of votes recorded match the number of votes issued?

    Stop making excuses to defend the indefensible.

    Tully went underground when he was questioned about accessing the e-voting results prior to the close of the November Poll. No scrutineers present. Highly dubious even though it was a small number.

    All this will be addressed when the Parliamentary Committee is convened next year. We will not be hilding back our criticism of then conduct of this election. Tully and the VEC have an obligation to ensure that the election process is open and transparent and that information is readily available and not hidden from view.

  22. if the VEC was honest open and transparent all of this information would have been readily available and published on the Internet. the Internet is the best way of holding governments to account. Information is the key to good governance and accountability the avoidance of corruption. the XML data files do not even match the final results. I recall you were of the view that the Northern Metro result was in fact correct it was not until it was seriously challenged that you changed your mind. Again had the VEC published the total number of votes issued as per the Poling place returns it would have been obvious they stuffed up. the computer programme they spent millions of dollars on and swore was certified clearly was not up to the challenge. Normally I record all that information which is why I had original asked for postal vote statistics. I had to disable from my database the check that the information recorded balances with the expected result. the VEc should have known this informatiojn it is supplied to them by the polling place RO’s.

    Sorry there is no excuse for this mistake and the explanation they provided does not ring true.

    Please tell me were did the 6,000 data error occurred? Where was there a need for the VEC to record 40666 or 466666? It seams to me that this is a furphy and you bought it.

    If I thought the VEC had acted in good faith then I would be so concerned about their mistakes but as I have said this issues has been raised time and time again. had teh VEc suppliued teh information we had requested (And I have put it all on the public record) and had the VEC acted in what I consider to be good faith or professional this would not be such an issue. they screwed up and the problem was poor management and lack of detailed information.

  23. Every election the VEC is involved in is a screw-up. They did much better in the 2004 City of Melbourne election but they went backwards the following year since Tully took over. the number of complaints about the same issues I had received in relation to the 2005 Municipal elections are the same. lack of openness, transparency and accountability. I am looking forward to the Parliamentary review and hopefully they will not whitewash it and Tully will be held accountable.

  24. If he had of provided the data we first requested it would have been so obvious that there was a data-entry mistake BUT he refused to make this information available. WHY? one could be forgiven into thinking that it was a conspiracy that someone was offered an incentive to try and fix the results. I am not saying that there was anything unbuttoned or that corruption is rife in the VEC but I most certainly question their policy and refusal to provide details about the election results. the mistake in Northern metro is not executable and you can not just pass it off on a simple data-entry problem. The system and management of the count was seriously flawed. How many other data entries errors went undetected. unless you have the information such as the total number of ballot papers issued and the initial polling booth breakdown you can not verify the accuracy of the count. Its a case of TRUST US WE ARE THE VEC… I do not buy it. If anything the VEC has proven that it can not be trusted to ensure that the election is open and transparent and accurate.

  25. Just received more emails from disgruntled members of the public who are very much looking forward to a parliamentary review on the conduct of the election. I have written to the Vic and asked that the forward a copy of the CD but I am told that the preference data files is missing so we will continue with our FPI application to obtain this information. it is a public document and the VEC does have an obligation to make it available. if the VEC refuse then this can only be seen as an abuse of the system and we will take them to VACT to obtain this information and ensure that Victoria’s elections are open and transparent.

  26. Melb City, can you keep it to yourself please? I am getting kind of tired of reading part #2956 of your rant. Good luck with your FOI claim, take it up through the official channels and let us know the result, but please don’t tell us about every excrutiating step of the way. Thank you.

  27. I am placing the comments in teh opublic record if you do not want to read it then don’t. I ahve already recived a number of e-mails form people taht are supportive. People that beleive that the conduct of the election most certainly is in need of review and people who also belive that the detailed results are published.

  28. I am placing the comments in the public record if you do not want to read it then don’t. I have already received a number of e-mails form people that are supportive. People that believe that the conduct of the election most certainly is in need of review and people who also believe that the detailed results should be published. Not just the count sheets.

  29. Quote from one email received “If a Public Inquiry is held after the shortcomings you have drawn attention to, and that others of us have also noticed, that might be the most effective means of achieving improvements in the future.”

  30. Sean said: The reason the upper house data is not on the web is probably becuase it comes on a CD that is in a proprietary format and requiers a windows application to run before you can read it. Now that is something that is worth complaining about.

    Sean we wre tiold mby the VEC

    “..we will make available is a CD containing the preference distribution report in excel format only, the same as we provided for the City of Melbourne election…”

    The City of Melbourne data incuded the BTL preference data the CD does not. The size of the files are not large. (See the copies of the provisonal count sheets The BTL prefernce data also is not huge. It is the BTL preference data and the polling booth breakdown that we want published)

    ytes I would be con`cerend if the VEc decided to rfestict access to this data by adopting a proprietary format. The VEc tried to claim previously that the sofdtware they used could not expot the data. That was a lie and it was only after we had the issue raised in the parliamnet that they soon discovered the database they use could export the data. problem is why are they not providing the BTL prefernce data?

  31. William, great website, I have one suggestion – is it possible to set up an ‘ignore’ feature in the blogging/comment portion so you can filter out people you’re not interested in reading?

  32. Welcome back Antony. I’ve missed you. Thank you for your mentoring. I shall indeed refer to PR-STV in refering to the current electoral system.

    I look forward to you updating the your analysis on your web site to reflect the recount figures. They currently declare different candidates as winners. This will give the general public who don’t have access to BTL figures an understanding of how these votes affected the final count in a number of close calls. I don’t want to rant and rave as another has a tendency to do, but if you could interpret these results in a way that us novices can understand, you will be continuing your huge contribution to public awareness of electoral matters.

    I answered your question on a previous thread that you may have missed in your absense. No I am not a supporter of GVTs, and I think that I have demonstrated my concerns about OPV also. But I would be interested in your assessment of the alternate propasal I put there.

  33. Happy Christmas to all, enjoyed reading most of the comments throughout the year.

    However ill have to agree with Antony and some of the others, melb city; there is no need to post 20 of the last 28 posts!

    its pointless past a point as nobody is going to read them all, im not going to judge on wether or not the VEC in in the wrong (not a great point of interest), however perhaps you should start your own blog. or something.

    and a happy new year to all.


  34. I understand your concern but as I have stated I have been raising these concers for the past 10m years. If anything I have been proven right. It is important that this isue is on the public record. Some readers are intrerested as evident by the number opf emails I have recived. The issues and fault that have been shown up with this election should be of concern to anyone that values open and transparent elections. We need to start seriously debateing tese nissues.l Issues such as the nsurplus transfer value, segmentation and publication of election result details.

    If we just tune in when there is a match and tune out in betwwen and the rules of the game are not reviewed then nothing is fixed. As my previous post stated hopefully most of this wil be addressed early next year when the State Parliament holds its review committee. It the meantime putting it non the public record puts the issue beyond doubt.

  35. What do we want?…. Preferences!
    When do we want then?…. Now!

    May I suggest that people who want the complete preference data set agree on what form this should take?

    Based on the way I set up my own cut-up program, the way I think the various EOs’ cut-up programs must run, I should think that a set of “images” of the ballot papers is neither the easiest to produce, nor the easiest to use. One of the problems with an “image” is that it has to account for unfilled squares, errors, different numbers of candidates per group etc., in a machine-readable format.

    On a ballot paper with M parties and N candidates, it is natural to assign a number to each candidate, starting at the top left and proceeding column-wise to the bottom right. One can then express the preferences shown on each ballot paper by a single string of numbers, being the candidate number who has the first preference, the candidate who has the second pref….. and so on. This is in fact the way that the new EML/XML technology has been adapted by AEC and VEC to show the sequences appearing on the Registered Tickets. (This was distributed by the VEC as a “Load” file on the Sunday before the election, but in a series of columns, rather than rows)

    There needs to be, in addition to the actual string of preferences, some identification as to the ballot type (well, maybe) and how many ballot papers showing this particular order there are (i.e the “bundle size”). There could be also an indication of how many squares have been filled out and/or a terminator character to indicate the end of the string. The numbers in the strings should probably be comma-separated (no commas IN the numbers, please).

    In an election with 25 candidates, the data would look something like:

    Type # of prefs # of papers Candidate numbers in 1st to last preference order
    ATL 8 124870 13 14 15 16 17 1 2 3 |
    BTL 8 365 5 6 8 19 21 9 12 20 |
    BTL 10 54 5 2 20 4 7 9 1 13 17 3 |
    BTL 9 17 8 5 7 1 6 19 23 10 14 |

    Note that ATL would usually mean “Ticket”. If this was a NSW election, you would probably need “RATL” as well, to indicate an across-the-top vote. These distinctions are, strictly speaking, unnecessary for the count process.

    It is easy to count up the first preferences from this:-
    Candidate 5 has 419,
    Candidate 8 has 17 and
    Candidate 13 has 124,780 primaries.
    54 of candidate 5’s papers will flow to Candidate 2 and 365 will flow to Candidate 6.
    …. and so on

    One of the advantages of data like this is that outside analysts could sort it to their hearts’ desires, so that they could, for instance, choose only the 30 most common patterns to run their simulations upon.

    I should think there is no particular barrier against such a file being progressively lodged on a public web- or ftp-site as the data was entered, much as progressive data files were lodged on the web and ftp sites on Election Night.

    For a typical VEC Region with 400,000 ballot papers, of which 10% were BTLs, of which most exhausted by 10 votes but which were all different; with 30 candidates from 8 Groups, and most Groups registering only 1 Ticket, I estimate the file size would be about 1MByte and it would consist of about 40,000 lines of data, which would fit easily into (e.g) an Excel spreadsheet. Real sizes would be smaller, because the max 40,000 BTL permutations would not appear. In the extreme case of NSW LC in 1999, it could be as high as 9 MByte; it would have up to 150,000 lines of data and you would need Excel2007 for that. The average size of the XML files which people were downloading on Election Night in Victoria grew to about 2.7 MByte- they had (effectively) 18,000 very long lines of data.

  36. My thanks to those who have offered kind festive words. I was going to say: I put up a short post entitled “Merry Christmas” to bring a little seasonal cheer, and what do I get?

    Paul Thornton-Smith has read my FOI application and the longer the VEC takes to provide the details of the election results and the preference data files the more the VEC will be held in contempt. Section 123 of the Electoral Act along with the previously stated legal presidence and ruling of a senior member of VCAT is clear.

    Had the conservative BTL voters fully elaborated their preferences as would be required under CPV, then I suspect most of them would have preferenced the ALP ahead of the Greens even though both would have been towards the bottom of their ticket.

    For a typical VEC Region with 400,000 ballot papers, of which 10% were BTLs, of which most exhausted by 10 votes but which were all different; with 30 candidates from 8 Groups, and most Groups registering only 1 Ticket, I estimate the file size would be about 1MByte and it would consist of about 40,000 lines of data, which would fit easily into (e.g) an Excel spreadsheet.

    Merry Christmas to these readers also, not least to the prolific Anthony van der Craats, who if nothing else makes my comments counts look impressive.

  37. Have a good break, William. We (political junkies) will eagerly await your return, as 2007 promises to be an interestiung year.
    Thanks for the indispensable site.

  38. Geoff: They already hjave a process of providing the detield preference data in an excel format file. I will send you a copy of teh City of Mlebourne data if you like so you know what the format was.

    I fail to understand the VEC does not want to make this information available in this election.

    I have had a friend obtain a copy of the CD and yes all that is on it is the summary count sheets size (262K surely would fit on the web – instead my friend had to travel all the way into the VEC office to collect) I amn sure that woiuld add to a few extra green house gase emmisisons.

    Missing of course is the lower house count sheets and the detailed preference data.

    Anyone wanting a copy of the final count summary count sheets can Fina a copy on my web page

    We will continue with our FOI application and go back to the VEC to once again secure the weight of access to this data. Tully and our taxes at work, Yes disgraceful.

    Thanks for all those how are also interested and believe that this information should be available. When me get hold of a copy of the preference data files we will let you know and publish them something that the VEC refuses to do.

    By the way the files are in excel spreadsheet format and not property as suggested,

    All the best for the season may the doubt not let you have to drink out of bottles.

    Thanks again William.

    PS Looks like the VEC is monitoring this blog!! the VEc has just publsihed the summary result sheets but not teh preference data:)

  39. “as I have stated I have been raising these concers for the past 10m years.”

    Phew, and here was me thinking it only seemed like you’d been talking about it 10 million years. :^)

    Merry Christmas, everybody, and many thanks and congratulations to our incomparable host, Mr Bludger.

  40. I tell you it feels like it some times. we first raised the issue with the VEC in 1996. The VEC was more then happy to provide the preference data. It allows the scrutineers to run various queries across the data set and highlight ballot papers of possible interest and then allows them to review those papers. It also allows independent review and verification of the results. Without it you can not properly monitor or verify the election results. In the past the VEC did not undertake a preliminary distribution of the ballot into first preferences. Each data entry person would be processing a bundle of mixed votes. With 20 data-entry personnel that would have required upto 400 scrutineers. With this election the VEC decided to undertake the preliminary distribution which meant that the ballot papers were in some sort of order and as such a little more easier to scrutinise. But the concerns of ensuring that the detailed preference data file is available to the public remain. When the data is finally available more detailed analysis can be undertaken.


  41. Ah, I remember this site in the days of the Federal election when comments were few and far between, I almost wish those days were back again, the days before MelbCity … who has added some valuable input to this site … but surely doesnt do anything else!!

  42. Dave I assure you I am kept very busy. the reforms of the upper-house took up two years of my working life and most of the time in between. this election has been a monumental mile stone in Victorian history only to end up a monumental stuff up by the VEC who continually prove they are the inferior of the two public electoral bodies. They did OK during the 2004 Melbourne City Council election but have gone backwards under Steve Tully.

  43. *Who is or was Helen Spencer Clark? I know Helen Clark, Catherine Helen Spence and Andrew Inglis Clark, but not an amalgam of all three.
    *Now that Kavanagh has come out as a flaming gay rights advocate, I expect apologies all round from those who berated the ALP for doing deals with the DLP. (What would Frank McManus say??)

  44. If you think the VEC are bad, try the SA ones. I’m STILL trying to get upper house data out of them for the last state election. I don’t mean formatted or unformatted or whatever, I mean *any*. They claim now (after giving me the runaround for 4 months) that they can only give it to political parties and that researchers for whatever reason are not allowed to access the data. I’m hoping to be visiting SA sometime next year and might pay a visit to their Fullarton office to see if I can get my entirely reasonable request met (all I want is first preference counts by polling centre by party/candidate as I’ve been able to get from every other state and of course federally).

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