Photo finishes: South Australia

Thursday, April 8

The result from the upper house has been declared, although ECSA’s consistently hopeless website offers no indication of the fact (UPDATE: Okay, I have managed to locate this. But it tells us very little: compare this with the Tasmanian Electoral Commission, which offered regularly updated PDFs with complete figures from the preference distribution as the count was conducted). From media reports we learn that the count turned up no late surprises: there were four seats each for Liberal and Labor, and one each for the Greens, Family First and Dignity for Disability. The numbers in the new house will be Labor eight, Liberal seven, two each for Family First and the Greens, two independents elected off Xenophon’s 2006 ticket and one Dignity for Disability.

Tuesday, March 30

I’ve finally gotten hold of a preference distribution from Mitchell, which you can see on the second page here. Kris Hanna did substantially less well out of Greens preferences than most were assuming: they split about 46-36-19 Labor-Hanna-Liberal. The Family First votes went 50-20-17-13 Liberal-Hanna-Labor-Greens. At the final exclusion Hanna was 213 votes astern of the Liberal, 7091 to 6878, with Labor on 8275.

Sunday, March 28

The Advertiser reports Chloe Fox has won Bright by 167 votes, and that Kris Hanna has conceded defeat – or rather, it says he has “told AdelaideNow he does (sic) expect to keep the seat of Mitchell as he is 200 votes behind Labor candidate Alan Sibbons and Liberal Peter McCance”. That 200 vote margin need only have defeated him if he was unable to chase it down on Greens preferences, which he evidently does not expect to happen. Since this was all apparently finalised some hours ago, you would rather hope that ECSA would have found a way to publish this information, but apparently it can’t be done. The upshot is that Labor has a very clear majority of 26 seats out of 47, with no need to bother themselves by appointing an independent as Speaker. There will be 18 Liberals and three independents – Bob Such in Fisher, Geoff Brock in Frome and Don Pegler in Mount Gambier.

It also leaves the Boundaries Commission with an interesting job on their hands with they set to work on a redistribution a year from now. This will have to produce a situation in which Labor will lose three seats even if they pick up a uniform swing of 1.2 per cent (based on Antony Green’s provisional estimate of a two-party split of 51.3-48.7 in favour of the Liberals). To do that it will have to redraw the boundaries in such a way as to gouge at least 1.7 per cent from the Labor margin in Bright, 3.6 per cent in Hartley, 3.7 per cent in Newland and about 4.8 per cent in either Florey or Elder (or perhaps Mitchell, depending on what the final margin is there). This could perhaps be done by extending Bright north into Morphett, Hartley south into Bragg, Newland south into Morialta or east into Schubert and Kavel, and Elder east into Waite and Davenport. Florey would seem likely to be spared as it is neighboured entirely by Labor seats. There would then be a chasm of 5 per cent to the next most marginal seat, unless a way can also be found to penalise Labor in a knot of seats in the 5 to 10 per cent range.

UPDATE: Scott in comments relates, via Mike Rann on Twitter, that Alan Sibbons won Mitchell by 945 votes over the Liberal candidate, though what really mattered to us in pseph-land was how much Kris Hanna fell short of overtaking the Liberal candidate at the second last exclusion. That suggests the Labor margin in the seat is 2.1 per cent. So from my discussion of the redistribution above, you can scratch Florey and Elder and expect that Mitchell will be pulled eastwards into Davenport and Fisher.

Saturday, March 27

What I believe will be the final declaration votes have been added to the count ahead of tomorrow’s distribution of preferences. Only 71 votes have been added in Mitchell, which is just as well for Kris Hanna because they’re his worst batch yet: he’s received 12 (16.9 per cent) to the Liberal candidate’s 27 (38.0 per cent), meaning he must make up 159 votes when Greens and Family First preferences are distributed – a touch and go proposition. We seem to have had only rechecking of declaration votes done in Bright (which I believe has happened in other seats as well), so perhaps there are still a few last postal votes to come. Chloe Fox’s lead is 165, so unless the distribution of preferences turns up an anomaly, she’s home. In Mount Gambier, a final 144 votes have narrowed Liberal candidate Steve Perryman’s deficit over independent Don Pegler by eight votes to 172, and that too should be that. Labor’s winning margins in Hartley and Newland look to be 905 and 998 votes respectively.

Friday, March 26

Another 438 votes in Bright have increased Chloe Fox’s lead by 14 votes to 158, so barring some late correction she should be home now. In Mitchell there have been another 860 votes, which is more than Kris Hanna would have liked given that they have been only slightly better for him than yesterday’s batch (there also appears to have been a recheck of polling booth votes, though it’s only changed small numbers of votes). He is now 144 votes behind the Liberal candidate: word is that he should be able to chase down 200 to 250 when Greens and Family First preferences are distributed. In Mount Gambier, 750 votes have gone 434-316 the way of Liberal candidate Steve Perryman, narrowing his margin over independent Don Pegler from 298 to 180. However, as Enjaybee notes in comments, the number of votes counted is only about 1500 short of the number enrolled, suggesting there can’t be much more than about 300 more to come. Figures in Newland have finally been updated with the addition of 3213 declaration votes. These have increased Tom Kenyon’s lead, showing he has f**ked ’em to the tune of 989 votes. Presumably a small number of extra votes will dribble in tomorrow, followed by the preference counts on Sunday.

Thursday, March 25

A fascinating day of counting, with big totals added and two significant surprises. In Bright, Chloe Fox’s bacon has been saved by 1224 votes which have broken 683-541 her way, increasing her lead since yesterday from two to 144. In Mitchell, it’s been a very bad day at the office for Kris Hanna, who has polled just 269 votes out of 1548 compared with 464 for Liberal candidate Peta McCance, who now leads him 6101 votes to 6035. If preferences go as they did last time Hanna will still end up 138 votes ahead at the decisive second-last count, but the composition of candidates is slightly different this time (in 2006 there was a Democrat, Dignity for Disability and a green independent as well as the Greens and Family First) and he might fall a little further behind as the last votes trickle in tomorrow. On the other hand, the Greens vote is higher this time and Family First’s lower, which should prove favourable for him. One way or another, the result won’t be known until the preference count is conducted on Sunday. A big batch of 2379 votes is in from Mount Gambier, and while it has Liberal candidate Steve Perryman continuing to narrow the gap on independent Don Pegler, it doesn’t look like enough: the votes have gone 1276-1103 in favour of Perryman, but Pegler is still 298 ahead. In Hartley, Labor’s lead is down from 897 to 857. For some reason there has been no update from Newland since Tuesday, not that it matters.

UPDATE: Two accounts in comments on scrutineers’ views of preferences in Mitchell: one saying Hanna is getting 60 per cent of Greens and 30 per cent Family First preferences, the other putting it at 50 per cent and 35 per cent. That suggests to me he should be able to chase down about 200 to 250 votes on preferences. If that’s accurate, Hanna should still get up, unless there’s more outstanding votes than I would assume (well over 1000) and they continue to break as they did yesterady.

Wednesday, March 24

6pm. Exciting new figures in from Bright: I had expected the postal count to trend away from Labor, but the latest batch has broken 1020-1012, putting Fox back in front by just two votes. 679 votes in Mitchell have increased Kris Hanna’s lead over the Liberal candidate by 27 votes to 129. Labor’s lead in Hartley down from 957 to 897, probably with about 2000 to go. Antony Green has this to say about the upper house count:

I double checked the Legislative Council results using amy own enate Calculator that can use the South Australian individual bundle method of distributing preferences. This also elected Kelly Vincent of Dignity for Disability to the final vacancy. Unless the final results see a significant lift in the Labor vote, or there is a higher than expected proportion of below the line votes, then Vincent should win the final vacancy.

1.30pm. The ABC reports Isobel Redmond has conceded defeat. She says two further seats could still be gained, presumably meaning Mount Gambier and Bright, with Hartley and Newland conceded. No new figures have been added so far today.

Tuesday, March 23

11pm. Mount Gambier: 1023 declaration votes have favoured Liberal candidate Steve Perryman over independent Don Pegler 575-448, narrowing the latter’s lead from 598 to 471. If the remaining declaration votes divide the same way, and if the total number of them is the same as in 2006, Pegler will prevail by 192 votes. Throw an extra 1000 postal votes into the mix, as the increase in applications suggests you should, and it comes down to 77.

Mitchell: The addition of 1573 declaration votes has reduced Kris Hanna’s lead over the Liberal candidate from 131 to 102. Hanna gained ground on the Liberal candidate after minor candidates’ preferences were excluded in 2006, and there’s no reason I’m aware of to expect different this time, so he remains well placed. Interestingly, David Bevan and Matthew Abraham of ABC Mornings said on yesterday’s program that Liberals had told them they were still in the hunt in Mitchell themselves, but this seems immensely unlikely: as well as getting ahead of Hanna, they would need a reversal of Hanna-plus-minors’ preferences from 63-37 to Labor in 2006 to 57-43 against, a “swing” of 20 per cent.

Newland: 1026 declaration votes, which should be maybe a quarter of them, have been added on primaries but not preferences. If they split the same way as the other votes, the Liberals will claw back a grand total of 15 votes, reducing the lead to 819. It’s high time they conceded defeat here.

Hartley: Only 481 declaration votes added here, reaping the Liberals a meagre harvest of seven votes, leaving Labor with a plainly insurmountable 957 lead.

1pm. ECSA has now added what I presume to be the ticket votes to the Mount Gambier preference count, and the figures are a bit different from the ABC’s: the margin is 598 rather than 676. Preference results have been added from those 1482 declaration votes in Bright, and where my projection had the scores dead level, Kourtesis has actually pulled six votes in front.

Monday, March 22

With one exception, late counting so far has been limited to rechecking and the addition to preference counts of incomplete votes saved under South Australia’s unusual provision which treats such votes as conforming with the relevant party’s registered ticket (where it has seen fit to lodge one). The exception is Bright, where 1482 declaration votes have been added. These are bad news for Chloe Fox, having given Liberal candidate Maria Kourtesis 758 primary votes to 579 for Fox. They have not yet been added to the preference count, but if they are distributed using the preference split from the ordinary votes, Kourtesis and Fox emerge dead level. Unfortunately, the Electoral Commission unusually neglects to distinguish between postal, pre-poll and absent votes in its published figures.

Elsewhere the ticket votes also favoured Liberal in Hartley, but not in Newland. The latter result might have been obscured by rechecking taking 89 votes from one booth from the Greens and shifting them to Save RAH and Family First. In Hartley, Labor’s lead is up from 864 votes to 964; in Newland it is down from 857 to 834. In Mount Gambier independent Don Pegler’s lead over Liberal candidate Steve Perryman is up from 634 to 676. The addition of ticket votes to the preference count in Mitchell is not significant, because what matters there is the primary vote gap between Kris Hanna and the Liberal candidate, which has been little changed by the recheck.

Sunday, March 21

3pm. Antony Green notes that as well as the recheck of votes that traditionally gets conducted the day after, we will also see “ticket votes” added to the count: i.e. incompletely filled ballot papers that will be treated as conforming with the registered tickets of the relevant parties, where applicable. This will amount to “several hundred” votes in each electorate, and my instinct is that they will lean to Labor. Antony also notes a potentially significant intricacy of the Legislative Council system which I’m not on top of, requiring a note of caution to predictions of a seat for Dignity for Disability:

The calculator is using the Senate couting method wherevotes are bundled by transfer value, where the South Australian method is to bundle votes by individual counts. This affects the way that surplus to quota votes of elected candidates are distributed. There are a lot of votes yet to be counted, and the victory of Ms Vincent requires her to be ahead of other candidates at key points of the count. Those key points have leads narrow enough to yet bechenged by the counting method and the number of below the line votes.

Saturday, March 20

This thread will be used to follow the progress of late counting over the next week or two. To start off with, a summary of the state of play as it stands at the end of election night. It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that Labor has won 22 seats out of 47. I think I’m being very generous to the Liberals here in leaving Newland and Hartley off the list, but as the stakes here are Labor’s majority I guess it pays to be cautious. Personally, I suspect there is an inclination to treat these seats as in play so the election itself can be treated as still in doubt, which provides hope for the Liberals and excitement for the media and election watchers generally. On any other night, we’d have given up on them. The scores are 8543 to 7686 in Newland, a Labor lead of 857 (2.6 per cent), and 8543 to 7686 in Hartley, a lead of 864 (3.0 per cent). Less contentiously there is Bright, where Labor’s Chloe Fox holds an eminently surmountable lead of 7931 to 7887 – 44 votes, or 0.1 per cent.

The Liberals have won at least 18 seats, up from 14 (they won 15 in 2006, but lost Frome at the January 2009 by-election). They have gained Norwood and Morialta from Labor, neither of which came as a surprise, and Adelaide, which did. Adelaide’s 15.2 per cent swing was the biggest of the evening in Labor-versus-Liberal terms, but it was one of no fewer than 21 which was in double digits. The lack of bang for the Liberals’ buck is illustrated by some numbers crunched by Antony Green: the swing was 1.7 per cent in marginal Labor seats, 7.7 per cent in safe Labor seats and 11.3 per cent in very safe Labor seats. There was also an average 8.3 per cent swing in the 14 seats already held by the Liberals. The Liberals did at least gain Chaffey from Nationals member Karlene Maywald, whose 16.2 per cent margin was demolished by a 20.5 per cent swing.

The defeat of Maywald leaves only independents on the cross-benches, with at least two – Bob Such as usual had no trouble in Fisher, and Geoff Brock easily retained Frome – and perhaps as many as four. Kris Hanna is struggling to stay ahead of the Liberal candidate in Mitchell, which he will need to do to ride home over Labor with their preferences. The primary vote figures are 5948 (33.9 per cent) for Labor, 5111 (29.1 per cent) for Kris Hanna and 4971 (28.3 per cent) for the Liberals, with preferences to be distributed from the Greens (811, 4.6 per cent), Family First (710, 4.0 per cent). They will heavily favour Hanna and the Liberals respectively, but it might be expected the Liberals will gain ground on postals, so this should go down to the wire. The Liberals were counting on Mount Gambier returning to the fold with the retirement of independent Rory McEwen, but it appears a new independent, Don Pegler, has upset their applecart. He finishes the evening leading Liberal candidate Steve Perryman 8892 to 8258, a lead of lead of 634 (1.8 per cent).

The upper house looks straightforward, unless there’s some subtlety of the preference carve-up I’m missing: four each for Liberal and Labor, and one each for the Greens, Family First and Dignity for Disability, assuming the Liberals can’t find a spare 1.5 per cent of the vote somewhere. The last one is obviously a turn-up, having been achieved from 1.14 per cent and an avalanche of preferences from micro-parties (I’m sorry to say that now includes the Australian Democrats), 11 of whom polled between 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent. It means Kelly Vincent, who emerged as the party’s de facto lead candidate following the sudden death of Paul Collier during the campaign, joins Ann Bressington and John Darley in a posse of accidental members with whom the government will need to negotiate. I’m a bit surprised Labor’s upper house vote has matched the lower: the differential was 3.4 per cent in 2002, and a lot higher when they had Nick Xenophon to contend with in 2006. The numbers in the new house will be Labor eight, Liberal seven, two each for Family First and the Greens, two independents elected off Xenophon’s 2006 ticket and one Dignity for Disability.

NOTE: Can we please make an effort to keep this thread on the topic of late counting. If you would like to discuss the result more generally, please use the live coverage thread which is still open below.

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.

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