Paperwork in order

With New South Wales election nominations closed and ballot paper positions drawn, I have now added full candidate lists to my election guide – always one of my favourite things to do. A couple of noteworthy details:

Antony Green has tallied up 537 candidates for the lower house, down from 661 in 2003, and a record 333 for the upper house. However, this will not lead to a repeat of the notorious 1999 "tablecloth" ballot paper, which featured 81 different groups with above-the-line voting options. The implementation of optional preferential above-the-line voting at the 2003 election removed the incentive for establishing dummy parties to harvest preferences, and also required that parties with group voting tickets have 15 candidates. The first change reduced the size of the ballot paper, while the second resulted in a smaller number of parties running a greater number of candidates.

• Independent candidates whose nominations were news to me include Debra Wales in Gosford and Ron Page in Murray-Darling. Wales was the Liberal candidate in 1999 and 2003 but was defeated for preselection this time; Page was mayor of Broken Hill until the government dismissed the council in January. Candidates in Keira include the persistent Marcus Aussie-Stone, whose electoral adventures go back to his run against then-Prime Minister Billy McMahon in Lowe in 1972.

• Swimming legend Dawn Fraser, who held the seat of Balmain from 1988 to 1991, is a surprise late entry in the upper house. However, she will be running as an ungrouped candidate, so that anyone wishing to vote for her will be required to number 15 boxes below the line. Of the seven ungrouped candidates in 2003, none polled so much as 1000 votes.

• One Nation is not contesting the election. There is however a remarkably large field of 56 Australians Against Further Immigration candidates for the lower house. The party fielded 62 candidates in 1999 and did not contest in 2003 (UPDATE: Turns out I’m wrong on the latter count – thanks to Charles Richardson for pointing this out). By‘s count, there are 57 lower house candidates for the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group). The Greens are contesting every seat.

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.

74 comments on “Paperwork in order”

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  1. William I love your forum.

    Just as interest here is a statistics report on the operation of optional below-the-line preference. Clearly many voters opted to just preference 5 candidates. Obviously the main parties will soon advocate only number one to five below the line effectively reducing the outcome of the election to a party list system.

    I am not sure where the other states are at but presumably they will soon follow the same rules. Also analysis of the below the line votes most definitely shows a difference in the result depending on if you use a value based surplus transfer or a paper based transfer calculation. Up to the value of 200 votes which could make a difference. With the use of computer based technology we do not need to separate the remainders from the votes nor do we need to implement the current method of segmentation both which also effect the possible outcome of an election.

    Southern Metropolitan BTL Statistics

    Informal – 11420
    Max Pref – Votes
    5 – 12121
    6 – 621
    7 – 580
    8 – 612
    9 – 241
    10 – 1270
    11 – 239
    12 – 335
    13 – 644
    14 – 115
    15 – 428
    16 – 177
    17 – 64
    18 – 206
    19 – 48
    20 – 100
    21 – 75
    22 – 22
    23 – 53
    24 – 60
    25 – 25
    26 – 196
    27 – 39
    28 – 198
    29 – 6339

  2. I saw on ABCTV news last night that the Labor candidate for Newcastle drew the top position on the ballot paper.
    I received a very glossy brochure yesterday from Martin Levine, the independent candidate for Epping. He obviously isn’t lacking in resources or campaign funds. Epping might be a seat to watch on March 24, and judging by the greater than usual Liberal campaigning here, I think they know it.

  3. Melb city said: Just as interest here is a statistics report on the operation of optional below-the-line preference.

    But, we lead a simpler life here in NSW. The abolition of Registered Ticket voting and making a “1” Above the Line equivalent only to a 1 to N vote for the Group (and notwithstanding possible Across the Top voting) has vastly simplified the preference distribution process, narrowed the voters’ options and maximised Above the Line. (Antony gave details to the 2003 Election Committee).

    Blind Freddy can predict the results in the LC now. He simply totals up all the integral quotas, allocates those seats, ranks the fractional parts and allocates the remaining N seats to the 1 to N ranks. It is highly unlikely that the small BTL vote will affect anything (it didn’t in 2003) and the need (and the ability) to simulate the cut-up has vanished.

    A bit boring really.

  4. Abolition of ticket voting is a positive, no question. But optional preferential above the line is surely a boon for the major parties. It’s like what Beattie reaped the dividends from in the lower house – lots of non-major vote, but it exhausted and had no effect on the outcome. In a lower house, I don’t think it’s that much of a deal. In a house of review, I think it’s not so good. I’d prefer that voters had to nominate a certain proportion above the line – say, three – people will have been bombarded with lots of stuff saying “Just vote 1 above the line for XXX” and some might even think that’s all they can do.

    Though I imagine it keeps the informal vote down which is good.

  5. By my count Marcus Aussie-Stone holds the record for unsuccessful federal candidacies: he has stood 16 times (15 for the Reps and once for the Senate), contesting 13 different Reps seats. I don’t recall him running at state level before.

  6. Adam said: By my count Marcus Aussie-Stone holds the record for unsuccessful federal candidacies

    Where do Peter Consandine and Ivor F. stand on this ladder?

  7. Consandine has stood 14 times: he ranks third behind Aussie-Stone (16) and the veteran Communist Ralph Gibson (15). Ivor F has stood 4 times and F Ivor has stood 5 times.

  8. Joseph Cordner has the record for unsuccessful candidacies in the same seat – he stood for Lyne 11 times in a row.

  9. Debra Wales’ candidacy, I presume, means that the Libs can no longer win Gosford? Maybe they’d written it off anyway.

    On one view OPV favours the major parties. However, under OPV, three-cornered contests of any description seem to be even greater poison for the major parties than they were previously. That is to say, it’s arguable that independents:
    a) have more substantial power in NSW than Federally, in that they can really stuff up a major-party candidate from ‘their side of politics’ with a relatively limited primary vote (by some of their supporters simply exhausting), but
    b) need substantial primary vote to actually win the seat– the old plan of just finishing 2nd on primaries, way behind the #1 major party candidate, and then sailing to victories on the preferences of the #3 major party candidate, won’t work.

    The exhaust rate in Gosford in 2003 was seemingly a whopping 53.5% (2515 out of 4698 minor-party votes). Even in independent-held Manly, where the ALP and other candidates would no doubt have been strongly urging preferences on their voters, it was almost 45%. I don’t know if there’s a state-wide exhaust rate; but if those percentages vaguely hold true generally, then the person leading on first prefs is handed a massive advantage by the OPV system. So my question to Antony/Adam/William/whomever is: Has anyone ever done modelling, based on statistically-anticipated preference flows, of seats that would have been decided differently if NSW didn’t have OPV?

  10. Yes, I’ve done it in a couple of papers for the NSW Parliament. OPV almost always favours the party with the highest primary vote. You have to assume something about how the exhausted preferences would have flowed. The most appropriate method I argue is to assume they would have split in the same ratio as those that did direct preferences. On that basis, the seat that most clearly was affected by exhausted preferences was Clarence in 1999, when Labor’s Harry Woods had no right to win based on his primary vote and the combined vote of the National and Liberal candidates.

    The maths is a bit complex, but you basically compare the assumed rate of preference flows to the ratio of primary votes for the two leading candidates. Because exauhsted preferences cut the votes remaining in the count, shrinking the total vote in the numerator for a percentage calculation, every exhausted preference adds a fraction of a percentage vote to the leading candidate. Unles the % preference flow to the leading candidate is greater than the ratio of the first candidate’s primary vote to the second candidate’s primary vote, then the first candidate is always advantaged.

    Say the primary votes of the two leading candidates are in the ration 55:45. That is if their combined % primary Vote was 80%, No.1 candidate would have 44%, candidate 2 36%. Every exhausted preferences cuts the numerator in the calculation of percentages. Effectively, it is like adding .55 of a vote to the leading candidate and .45 to the secopnd candidate. Unless exhausted votes were flowing to the lead candidate in this case at a rate greater then 55%, then the leading candidate will be advantaged.

  11. Oh, which means the bigger the gap between the first and second candidate, the harder it is to catch up. If cand 1 is 45% and cand 2 is 30%, Cand 2 would need 80% of the preferences from the 25% of other primary votes. But every exhausted preference splits .6 to Cand1 and .4 to Cand2. If of those 25%, one-third exhausted, a total of 8.3%, the Cand1 reaches 50% just on exhausted preferences, even if every other preference flowed to Cand2.

  12. Looking at the ballot for the seat of Hawkesbury, I notice the No 1 spot goes to a Gregg Pringle from (AAFI), what is everyones thoughts on how the votes will split from Stephen Pringle (ex Liberal now Ind) and the Liberal Baulkham Hills Councillor Ray Williams the new Liberal candidate, obviously the two pringles will confuse the over 55 vote, traditional liberal supporters and probable loyalists to Stephen pringle

  13. Is it likely that OPV will affect the overall result?

    From all accounts people want to give Labor a boot but don’t want to risk electing the Libs. Possibly the ‘protest’ votes will splinter among independents/minor parties and exhaust, in which case the Libs could generate an on-paper swing will almost no lift in their own vote. I’m thinking of 1999 where Labor’s vote stayed the same but got a large 2PP swing and seat gain because the Lib/Nat vote split among ON and independents.

  14. I have a feeling that the opinion poll to be released next week along with Liberal internal party polling will reveal what most realistic people seem to be assuming; that the election loss will be devastating for the Coalition, and far worse than one would expect when faced with a tired, old government.

    My suspicions are aroused by a number of factors (including party rumblings) and the complete lack of confidence displayed by both the Opposition Leader and Deputy. I refer to the opening phrase of Peter Debnam’s Blog for Friday 9th:

    “As the election approaches, Morris Iemma and Labor are becoming increasingly cocky by the day. Just imagine what Labor will be like if they win this election – and even worse win easily.”

    Debnam is not just hinting at an election victory to the ALP, but to one that will embarrass the Liberal Party to the core. Sure, it’s fairly unfounded inductive reasoning, but I’d put my money on a result of that nature, as oppose to one that includes a swing to the Coalition.

  15. Someone should start a book on how many of the 333 LC candidates will receive no votes.

    In 2003 there were 284 candidates. Two candidates received zero votes. Two other received one. In all, 85 candidates received less than 10 votes, 144 received less than 20, 205 received less than 50 and 228 candidates received less than 100. Only 15 candidates received mored than 1,000 votes, and all of those were the lead candidates in the 15 columns on the ballot paper.

  16. What do people think of the Patrice Newell Group F (Leg Council) ticket? I was looking through it finding an odd assortment of people, from Genia McCaffery (North Sydney Mayor, John MacInerney (Sydney Deputy Mayor), Matt Noffs, who works for Ted Noffs… and on through an assortment of architects, composers to marketers and professors (of marketting). And not forgetting Patrice herself as They are on record as saying they will have a presence on every polling booth, but don’t seem to be doing any ore than high profile stunts (bringing Erin Brockovich to Sydney). I was left wondering if they were serious about being a ‘Climate Coalition’ or were turning into a front for an ‘Independents Coalition’ (although I haven’t seen any evidence of this as yet) or more sinisterly vote splitter for one of the major parties (might be useful to split the Green vote…)?

    The Group says on their website that they are focussed solely on climate change:
    “Because our mandate is to focus on climate change we will give our elected MPs a conscience vote on all other matters that come before the Parliament.” This will mean that electors will have no real idea of what they will get from their MP (although the cynical/realists may have a view on that too…).

    And of course, what do people think their real chance is? Personally I would have thought they would be struggling to get the 2% they will need to begin to have a chance, especially as they will be largely unknow outside of inner-Sydney or in the Hunter.

  17. Oh, and on the “how many times have people stood” comments, I understand from the ‘horses mouth’ that Peter Consandine is contesting his last election, and intends to retire from running. Mind you, he said that last Federal Election, but I think he means last State Election. So Marcus Aussie-Stone will remain ahead!

  18. Quiz questions: No candidate in a federal election has ever polled zero votes. Which candidate in which contest in which federal election polled both the smallest number of votes AND the lowest percentage of the vote ever recorded in a federal election? (hint: it was quite recent)

  19. Simon said…”Even in independent-held Manly, where the ALP and other candidates would no doubt have been strongly urging preferences on their voters, it was almost 45%.
    ” the person leading on first prefs is handed a massive advantage by the OPV system

    For the tiddlers exhaust was 60% and more. GRN was 41%, ALP 38.5%. Flows to IND were 45%GRN 55%ALP (at the cut-up, not notional, i.e. includes tiddlers).

    A current polling rumour has LIB on 34%, IND on 31%. With preference flows like 2003, IND can’t lose on this primary (53.3% TCP). That is, a primaries lead in OPV doesn’t necessarily mean a TCP win.

    But the rumour is not to be trusted.

  20. No, I don’t do predictions. Especially after my last one about the Pittwater by-election “it’s just a comment for a story” was turned into a Manly Daily front page screaming headline “Guru tips Libs”. They have been quite miffed that I refused to speak to the paper again since. I’ll stick to doing election night models which I’m good at, and leave the astrology side of psephology to those who enjoy it.

    The problem with Group F is who will know who they are. Pauline Hanson got 2% and has a huge public profile. The Christian Democrats, with no publicity but 30 years of building a newsletter network, can get 3%. On that giant ballot paper, with people reading left to right, who’s going to know who group F are, if they get that far. Bank on 80-90,000 votes to have a chance of getting elected.

    I do think Australians Against Further Immigration will do well. Positioned at Group C, i’d say very strongly positioned to get at least 1%. Get that to 2%, I’d reckon they’d be in.

  21. Adam,
    After a quick look at your site. Has anyone got a lower percentage than Joe Stewart? 6 out of nearly 3,800,000 in the 2001 NSW Senate

  22. Tully’s Tally does not Tally. (Update)

    Hi. Just to let you know that we have managed to secure some data files results from the Victorian Electoral Commission. It has taken over 3 months and a lot of effort with the Victorian Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, trying his hardest to avoid disclosure.

    Why you may ask? Well we are at a loss.

    It is fundamental to good governance that public elections are open and transparent. Steve Tully’s conduct of the State Election had little to desire.

    Missing still are the polling place return results for the Legislative Council(Which are normally published but the VEC does not want this information made public)

    We lodged an FOI application to the Victorian Electoral Commission back in December in order to obtain copies of the data files and details of the results of the November State election.

    Sue Lang, the Officer responsible, has just responded to our FOI application and request for an Internal review undertaken by Steve Tully We have decided to published her reply sent on behalf of Steve Tully.

    On reading the VEC’s reply One can be forgiven in asking the question “has the VEC acted in good faith?” You be the Judge.

    We have written to ALL members of the State Parliament and the Victorian State Ombudsman requesting a Review. If one is not forthcoming we will lodge an appeal in VCAT in order to ensure that the detailed results of the election are made public.

    If Interested you can obtain copies of the what information the VEC has provided on our web site.

  23. William. I am not that familiar with the optional preferential above the line. By this are you saying that voters can preference 1,2,3 above the line like voting for individuals in a single member electorate but instead voting for parties/groups. I like the idea but I would have preferred it being full preferential above the lie but optional below the line… With the introduction we run the risk of adopting by default a party list system. Does the ATL still have a registered preference ticket option as in Victoria or the Senate? If you can outlime more on the detail and mechanics of the vote I would be very much interested.

    Thanks again.

  24. MelbCity, there is a registered ticket, but it only applies to the party you vote for. There are no, none, nil between party preferences under the group ticket voting option on NSW. The only preferences in the count are those filled in by the voter themselves, by filling in at least 15 preferences below the line, or by voting for more than one group above the line. All parties are required to lodge an official second prefernce to another party, but this can only come into play if the party loses a candidate to death or disqualification and therefore has less than 15 candidates.

    All this comes about because the procedures for the LC count are entrenched in the constitution and can only be amended by referendum. So, random sampling for preferences is entrenched. There is no provision for what to do on the death of a candidate, hence the odd second preference stuck in the electoral act as a work around. A minimum 15 preferences is also entrenched, hence why the new group ticket voting option forces all parties to stand 15 candidate if they want to make use of the GTV system. None of these provisions can be changed without a referendum.

    In effect the system works as a form of List PR with a highest remainder algorithm to elect the last members. Seeing NSW is electing 21 members, it still ends up a proportional outcome, and does away with the pervisions of the system that took place in 1999. Electing 21 members, I think they would get a better result using D’Hondt or one of the variations on the PR divisior systems. If the system is going to work as a list PR system, you might as well use a divisor system than a quota system, as divisor systems produce a fairer outcome.

  25. Quiz question answered: The lowest vote ever polled by a candidate in a federal election was 4, polled first by Theo Hetterscheid, an independent NSW Senate candidate in 1996, and secondly by Ramon Kennedy, an independent WA Senate candidate in 2001. Hetterscheid holds the record for the lowest proportion of the vote. His 4 votes out of 3.6 million represented just over one millionth, or 0.00011%. The lowest vote ever polled by a House of Representatives candidate was 5, polled by Frederick Thompson, an independent candidate in Northern Territory in 1922.

  26. Adam Says:March 10th, 2007 at 12:03 pm Quiz question answered: T….

    It would probably be fair to acknowledge Adam Carr’s Psephos web-site for all these amazing facts. I assume that’s where most are coming from?

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