South Australian election late counting

A progressively updated post following the counting of over a quarter-of-a-million outstanding votes in South Australia’s cliffhanger election.


5.3pm. Further counting in Elder reversed the trend just noted, breaking 1485-1254 Labor’s way and putting the lead at 757, which is very likely more than the number of votes still outstanding. Counting also favoured Labor today in Ashford (347-287, increasing the lead to 820) and Newland (671-652, putting it at 656).

Noon. Declaration votes are flowing fairly strongly the Liberals’ way in Elder, a second batch breaking 528-429. That reduces the Labor lead to 526, and could send it below 300 if the trend continues.


8.30pm. The final score for the day from Colton shows Labor gained 1196-1078, putting Paul Caica’s lead at an unassailable 570 with perhaps 1000 votes remaining to be counted. The tide of late counting continued to flood the Liberals’ way in Hartley, today’s batch favouring Liberal candidate Vincent Tarzia over Grace Portolesi by 1685-1204, pushing his lead out to 1131.

5pm. A big addition of votes in Newland breaks 1426-1332, putting Labor’s Tom Kenyon 637 ahead and confirming his victory. In Mitchell, Labor clawed back 39 votes out of 3203 added, but it’s too little too late. Pretty much impossible now not to see a result of Labor 23, Liberal 22, independents two.

4.30pm. Labor has pulled a further 107 ahead with the addition of 1415 votes in Ashford, where Steph Key’s lead is now at 760 and unlikely to change much with perhaps 1000 votes still outstanding. Sykesie reports Labor now 588 ahead in Colton, with postals favouring the Liberals by an insufficient 52-48.

1.30pm. Well-informed commenter Sykesie relates that the morning’s counting in Colton has broken Labor’s way 349-262, putting Labor 539 votes in front and making life all but impossible for the Liberals. Their only hope of making it a twenty-third seat is an unlikely late reversal in Newland, where Labor leads by 543 with declaration vote counting still at an early stage, with about 4000 votes still to count.


11pm. It appears a move from postal to pre-poll counting also staunched the flow in Ashford, where Labor’s Steph Key now looks home and hosed after today’s batch broke only 728-720 to Liberal. This leaves Key 653 in front and projected to win by about 500. Nothing today from Elder or Newland.

6pm. Labor nerves will have steadied considerably with the addition of 970 votes in Colton, which I understand to be pre-polls. These have broken 491-479 in their favour and held their lead at 452. Projecting the existing declaration vote shares over an assumption of about 3000 outstanding votes, Labor emerges over 250 votes in the clear.

1pm. Mitchell continues to trend the Liberals’ way, 980 newly added votes breaking 563-417 and pushing the margin out from 373 to 519.


6pm. It appears the votes counted today were mostly if not entirely postal votes, and they are playing according to the script of favouring the Liberals by virtue of not reflecting the move back to Labor in the final week. On top of what was mentioned previously, today’s counting favoured the Liberals 808-634 in Ashford and 888-767 in Elder, and while that’s likely to be too little too late in Elder, the projected Labor win in Ashford comes down to double figures if the final declaration vote total is presumed to be 6000.

5pm. Encouraging first set of declaration vote numbers for the Liberals in Colton, breaking their way 556-425. If that trend were to play out over a total of 5000 declaration votes – 4000 having been the norm last time, but many more pre-polls apparently having been cast this time – the Liberals would finish about 100 in front. However, it may be that these are absent votes cast over the boundary in a Liberal-leaning part of the electorate, or representative of a particularly strong result for the Liberals on either postals, absent or pre-poll votes that won’t be replicated among the other vote types. UPDATE: I’m told on Twitter that these are postal votes. ECSA doesn’t do breakdowns of declaration votes, but in the corresponding federal seat of Hindmarsh, the Liberal two-party vote in September was 55.4% compared with 53.9% for pre-polls. Absent votes favoured broke 52-48 to Labor, but that’s unlikely to be instructive with respect to Colton.

4pm. The first 1424 added in the only seat that might get Labor to a majority, Mitchell, have broken 782-642 the Liberals’ way, increasing their lead from 233 to 373. If that keeps up, their winning margin will be around 800.

2pm. 1218 votes have been added in Newland, breaking 632-586 to the Liberals and reducing the Labor lead from 589 to 543. If that trend continues, the Liberals will only be able to wear away about 200 votes. However, trends in late counting can be variable, particularly in relation to pre-poll and absent votes which might be cast in particular parts of the electorate or neighbouring electorates. Unfortunately, ECSA doesn’t distinguish between different types of declaration vote in its published results.

Monday night

This post will follow the crucial late counting for the South Australian election, which has so far only dealt with re-checking of the polling booth votes counted on election night. Counting of an estimated 260,000 pre-poll and postal votes begins today, with the Liberals needing multiple miracles to boost them from their likely total of 22 to a majority of 24, and Labor hoping they might yet get there through what presently seems an unlikely win in Mitchell. Labor’s narrowest leads are of 571 votes in Colton (1.6%) and 589 votes in Newland (1.8%), while the Liberal lead in Mitchell is 233 (0.7%).

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.

390 comments on “South Australian election late counting”

  1. Cheers Diog.

    This might sound terrible – but if he could make it through the campaign, surely he could tell us who he’ll back before disappearing?

  2. [This might sound terrible – but if he could make it through the campaign, surely he could tell us who he’ll back before disappearing?]

    It doesn’t matter who he backs unless he’s in the House to vote. The Libs won’t give him a pair.

  3. Brock does not have to back Labor for Labor to form government. He could abstain like Such did in 2002 and it looks like Such is being forced to do this time.

  4. If neither indy votes, the numbers will be 22-22 assuming Labor provides a Speaker. So long as Such is absent, Labor will stay in office unless Brock defects.

    Question: Can the House give Such indefinite leave by resolution, or does the state Constitution say his seat will be declared vacant after a set period of non-attendance?

  5. Psephos

    Finnigans has to turn up occasionally to avoid being tossed out so I imagine its the same for Such although hes in the Lower House.

  6. In the Constitution, parliament can grant leave.

    [Vacation of seat in Assembly
    31. (1) If any member of the House of Assembly—
    (a) for twelve sitting days consecutively of any session of the House of Assembly without the permission of the House entered upon its journals fails to give his attendance in the House; or]

  7. OK, so he can spend the next four years in hospital if he wants without losing his seat, although I imagine the voters of Fisher will get a bit snippy about not having an MP after a while.

  8. Presumably permission of parliament involves a vote which Such would win. But to vote indefinite leave to someone potentially not intending on coming back would be highly questionable and the Governor might step in.

  9. I don’t think the Governor has any grounds for stepping in unless the Constitution is being breached. But it would certainly look bad for someone who is too ill to attend Parliament to be given leave for more than, say, three months. I think the general view would then be that he should resign.

  10. Psephos

    The Governor could argue that the intention of the Constitution is being breached. The leave clause appears only intended as a temporary measure, not an indefinite leave.

  11. ECSA has put up the figures for Legislative Council for 92% counted – so just about final apart from some postals amd maybe some odds and ends. The split of votes between all the parties looks remarkably consistent with the original poll booth vote even with almost a third of the votes were counted this week eg the X team had 12.9% on election night and still has 12.9%.

    Antony Green calculator result same as election night – 4 Lib, 4 Labor, X group, FF and Greens.

  12. Bob Such is quite a lot classier than others.

    It appears that his affliction is prostate cancer.

    Which would be ‘fine’ in itself, contained at a certain point.

    The ongoing danger is that it may metastise. Into bone and other parts of the body.

    I think someone mentioned bone, possibly that is the case.

    Sudden pain happens.

    Which calls for decisions. Chemo, for one. And pain medication.

    I presume, with no knowledge whatsoever, that Dr Such is suffering to the degree that he is unable to go on. At the moment.

    My thoughts are with him, his wife and his family.

  13. Done deal. Amazing result for the ALP against all odds. Now let’s hope the situation makes them get their act together!

  14. Dio –

    9 year lag time for new mets would be unusual. Surgery for bone mets would be unusual, pretty much only happening for a fracture or cord compression, both of which unlikely with prostate ca.

    Unless there is a solitary liver met for resection the weight of probability is against the prostate being the issue, right?

  15. Soulman

    I think solitary liver mets are very rare in prostate cancer. It’s normally disseminated by the time you get liver mets.

    Could have a local recurrence of the prostate cancer though.

    Of course it could be completely unrelated.

  16. So who will get the 2 cabinet vacancies? (Assuming the 3rd is Brock’s and Jai doesn’t expand the size of cabinet).

  17. While Weatherill will probably give the entire cabinet a reshuffle, rather than just fill the gaps (the current cabinet was a war cabinet to prepare for the election), the cabinet members who will not be returning to parliament are Michael O’Brien (Right), Chloe Fox (Right) and Grace Portolesi (Left). I and a few others have been saying that Stephen Mullighan (Right) should be fast-tracked to cabinet as he has future leadership potential. Susan Close (Left) should also be brought up too – I personally see her as a potential Deputy Leader.

    As for other people who aren’t in cabinet right now: Caica might get a return and possibly some northern suburb talent, such as Lee Odenwalder, Zoe Bettison or Leesa Vlahos (the latter two might be preferable on the grounds that female representation in cabinet is down 2, with the loss of Fox and Portolesi)

    We shall wait and see.

  18. [Does that mean Carey , Jai will expand cabinet given he has given Brock a spot ?]

    No idea. The current cabinet has 13 members. I actually don’t know if that’s on par with an average SA cabinet or if it’s larger/smaller.

  19. On LE’s note, just FTR the conservatives last held coast-to-coast power between 26 May 1969 (when the Libs came to power in Tas) and 2 June 1970 (when the ALP came to power in SA).

  20. I’m loving the fact the Liberals won 22 seats in the House.

    This means their next leadership ballot will be tied 11 – 11.

  21. [I’m loving the fact the Liberals won 22 seats in the House.

    This means their next leadership ballot will be tied 11 – 11.]

    MLCs get a vote too. So it would be 30 total votes and a tied room would be 15-15

    But really, so what? Any even number can lead to a tie and this is the largest the Liberal party room has been since the 2002 election.

  22. [MLCs get a vote too. So it would be 30 total votes and a tied room would be 15-15]
    Untrue. The S.A. Liberal leader is chosen purely by a vote of House of Assembly MPs.

  23. Posting these two links for future reference.
    Both contain commentary on SA Election results.

    Labor to form government in South Australia

    Premier Jay Weatherill announces the independent MP Geoff Brock has given his support and will receive a ministry.

    The, Sunday 23 March 2014 14.01 AEST
    Jump to comments (801)

    Seat of the week: Adelaide
    William Bowe | Mar 23, 2014 4:41AM | EMAIL | PRINT

    [Tips and rumours
    Mar 25, 2014 12:38PM


    Oz journo misses his chance. Which journalist at The Australian was in line for a position in Steven Marshall’s office had he become South Australian premier, but instead is left venting in the pages of the national broadsheet instead? As sympathetic as we are to employees desperate to leave the Oz, it prompts this thought: why no disclosure from journalists in such circumstances?

    Perhaps there are even grounds for a cooling-off period. Matthew Franklin, for example, hadn’t worked at The Australian for several months before turning up as Kevin Rudd’s chief spinner in the brief Rudd Mark II era. But when journalists seamlessly transfer from reporting to spinning for those they reported on the day before, it doesn’t look quite as clean-cut. Discuss …]

  25. ‘Which journalist at The Australian was in line for a position in Steven Marshall’s office had he become South Australian premier,…’

    Don’t know who that would be. Pray tell.

    Same deal as MP’s ‘moving on’ to private enterprise.

  26. Hope I have the right link. If fails, pasting the content.\

    Kevin Naughton | 27 March 2014 Jassmine Wood

    While the state Liberal Party bemoans the way the numbers fell on March 15, it might want to re-visit the way it did its own numbers in pre-selecting a candidate in Colton, the seat that ultimately cost it government.

    The pre-selection hit the headlines a couple of times: in late 2012 when it was delayed and re-opened in controversial circumstances, and again in 2013 when the decision was appealed.

    When the Colton branch eventually had its say on who would run in the 2014 state election, the result was 25 votes to 21 in favour of former Federal Police officer Joe Barry.

    Party insiders have told InDaily that unsuccessful candidate – and frontrunner before the re-opening of nominations – Jassmine Wood had scored the most personal votes, but lost after preferences were cast by the remaining three candidates, none of which went Wood’s way.

    The Colton stoush started in late 2012 when then leader Isobel Redmond joined with left faction leader and federal MP Christopher Pyne to reopen nominations in the seat.

    Up until that decision, the favoured nominee was Wood, who had previously bloodied Labor’s Tom Koutsantonis in the 2010 state election with an 11.7 per cent swing against him in the Labor stronghold of West Torrens.

    In that 2010 result, Koutsantonis won 56.7 per cent to 43.3 per cent – a margin he rebuilt at this year’s election, winning 60.8 per cent to 39.2

    Jassmine Wood’s reputation was riding high and she was considered a “shoo-in” for the Colton pre-selection – a winnable seat.

    The 33-year-old local business owner declined to talk to InDaily today about the pre-selection, but her supporters remain outraged at her treatment.

    Their main beef is that “factional meddling” to secure the left’s numbers in the party was placed above the “need to actually win an election”.

    Wood also had her own beef which came to light in February 2013, when The Australian reported details of a statement she made as part of an appeal to the Liberal Party disputing the integrity of pre-selection for the seat.

    Wood had alleged unfair treatment and grave irregularities in the ballot – a claim that was rejected by the party’s appeals committee.

    Wood was a member of the party’s right faction, but her supporters says she had angered some when she backed a failed bid former State Director Bev Barber for a Senate vacancy spot in 2012.

    On the day of the pre-selection vote in February last year, the Left had two players in the race. They placed Scott Young at the top, Joe Barry second and Wood at the bottom.

    Inexplicably, the Right went for Joe Barry at the top and Wood below him, leaving her stranded unless she gained a majority of first preferences.

    InDaily understands she fell two votes short.

    The tight numbers game had some risks, party insiders say.

    “The Right got so wrapped up in trying to keep out the Left’s top candidate, they ensured that their own best prospect got rolled,” a senior party insider told InDaily.

    “Jassmine Wood was a good looking candidate, had a profile courtesy of her runs in West Torrens and Hindmarsh and had official links with key ethnic groups.

    “So while the factional power players complain about unfair electoral systems depriving them of Government, they actually deprived themselves because their need to meddle got the better of them again.”

    And when the votes were cast two weeks ago, Labor’s Paul Caica defied expectations and retained the seat of Colton – the crucial 23rd seat that gave Labor the edge.

    The finger pointing has already started in the Liberal Party and this result will be key among the decisions made that may have back-fired.

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