New South Wales election late counting

Progressive coverage of late counting in close seats for the New South Wales election.

Monday night

It’s looking increasingly like the Greens will win Ballina but Lismore will stay with the Nationals, while Labor appears to believe it has won Gosford and The Entrance. That suggests a final score of Coalition 54, Labor 34, Greens three and independents two.


A commenter at Antony Green’s blog, whom I take to be Graham Askey of Help End Marijuana Prohibition, says based on his observations from scrutineering that the Greens stand to receive 65% of Labor preferences with 6% goign to the Nationals, while other minor candidates’ preferences are going 20% Greens and 30% National. This suggests a Nationals win by about 51-49. Furthermore, Nationals scrutineers reportedly put the Labor flow to the Greens quite a bit lower, at around 55%. Absent votes have been bit better for the Nationals than I was budgeting for, resulting in current primary vote totals of Nationals 42.6%, Greens 26.4% and Labor 25.6%, compared with my earlier projections of 42.2%, 26.7% and 25.6%.


The aforementioned blog post also relates from Greens scrutineers that they are getting 63% of Labor preferences with barely over 5% going to the Nationals, which is easily enough for them to win the seat. As in Lismore, the Nationals have done better than projected on counting of absents so far, but not by so much as to disturb the general impression.


A very strong performance by Labor on the batch of absents added on Friday has caused them to pull into the lead by 51 votes. Kevin Bonham relates that Labor tweeted on Friday that it had won by 76 votes, which is puzzling because it is not reflected in the results on the Elections NSW website.

The Entrance

Labor has claimed victory here as well, with a current lead of 145 and presumably few if any votes outstanding.

Wednesday night

In The Entrance, the first batch of absents has gone 171-153 in favour of Liberal. You would expect absents overall to be more favourable to Labor, but the counting of them tends to proceed erratically as batches from different places are added to the count. Together with other increments of votes, mostly postals, the Labor lead has worn down from 157 to 74, with a large number of outstanding absents to decide the issue. In Gosford, there were 864 absents and 196 postals added to the count, and the absents are perhaps surprising a little in failing to give Labor the fillip they needed, thus far breaking 500-459 in favour of Labor. Nothing today in Ballina, and only 191 postals in Lismore. In East Hills the Liberals lead by 768, which I’ve got coming down to 638 after plugging the gaps between the primary and two-party counts. There should be at least another 3500 absent votes to come, but clearly Labor aren’t going to get there. I’m projecting the Liberal winning margin at 0.9%.

Tuesday night

I’m still behind the eight-ball on The Entrance, which is unfortunate because Ben Raue is projecting there’s three votes in it. Will get some modelling of my own done on that tomorrow. In Lismore, the Nationals had another big fillip courtesy of the Tenterfield pre-poll booth, where they scored 797 out of 1313 formal votes (60.7%). On top of that another batch of 253 postals were roughly as favourable as those previously. The Greens’ lead over Labor has narrowed still further, from 1.04% to 0.54%, but I’m projecting final primary vote totals of 42.2% for the Nationals, 26.7% for the Greens and 25.6% for Labor, factoring in a strong performance for the Greens on absents. Only a trickle of postals were added to the count in Ballina, but here I’m projecting Nationals 36.9%, Greens 26.7% and Labor 24.9%, which still looks like a Greens win to me. In Gosford, Labor still has its nose in front by 37 thanks to a 394 gain from the 5603 votes at the Woy Woy polling booth, which all but cancel out 1922 postals which favoured the Liberals by 442. However, the trend on postals is menacing for Labor, with at least 1000 more likely to be outstanding. Against that are about 3500 outstanding absent votes to add to the small sample of 307 accounted for already, which were very strong for the Greens but otherwise only slightly favourable to Labor. Nothing new in East Hills.

Monday night

Kevin Bonham and Ben Raue are doing more and better work than me here. I don’t have time to account below for The Entrance, which still looks very close, or Gosford, where the Liberals have firmed. I should start to get on top of things from tomorrow evening. The quick takeout is that late counting has transformed the situation in Ballina and especially Lismore, and while they’re probably still to be favoured in the former, the latter is a three-way bet. The Liberals should get home in East Hills.


The Greens (26.3%) are falling so far back on late counting in Lismore that it’s no longer clear they’ll finish second ahead of Labor (25.3%). Should Labor pull ahead, it will then be a hard-to-call race between the Nationals (41.1%) and Labor, rather than Nationals and the Greens. Antony Green observes that on election night, “the flow of Green and minor party preferences was 8% to National, 62% to Labor and 30% exhausted”. But given the later counting has much fewer Greens votes, it would probably be a bit flattering to Labor to project those totals across them. If you do it anyway, Labor end up 0.6% ahead. With respect to how preferences might flow between the Nationals and the Greens, we’re completely flying blind. For what it’s worth, Antony calculates that using the Greens are 0.7% ahead if Labor preferences happen to behave the same way as Greens ones. Today we had nearly 10,000 pre-polls added, together with 2578 iVotes and 1588 of late-reporting election day votes. The disparities between each vote type continue to astound, with the Nationals scoring 56.9% on postals, 47.1% on pre-polls, 42.4% on iVotes and 39.8% on ordinary booth votes. The Greens scored 29.2% on the day and 27.1% on iVotes, but 21.4% on pre-polls and just 13.7% on postals. The remainder of primary vote counting should be a see-saw between about 3000 absents and 2000 postals, which were respectively run heavily in favour of the Greens and the Nationals.


All the trends noted above for Lismore apply in Ballina too, and here also they’re sufficient to place the Greens’ presumed win in doubt. But as Kevin Bonham notes, the trump for the Greens in comparison with the Lismore count is that they’re likely to score well from the preferences of independent Jeff Johnson, an ex-Greens councillor.

East Hills

There are no 2PP updates on non-booth votes, so I’m going to have to extrapolate booth vote preferences on to primary votes for late counting. The Liberals had a 352 vote lead on booth votes, and 2466 postals have added another 454 to that. Labor clawed back 135 on 5400 pre-polls, but they’re 537 in arrears all told, and the record of absents in 2011 provides no indication Labor can expect them to ride to the rescue.

Sunday night

This thread will progressively be updated over the coming week or two to follow the progress of late counting in close seats for the New South Wales election. It seems the Coalition has won a clear 52 seats, with the Liberals on 36 and the Nationals on 16, with Labor on 32, the Greens on three and independents on two (Greg Piper in Lake Macquarie and Alex Greenwich in Sydney). That leaves a fairly short roll call of four seats in doubt – the Central Coast seats of Gosford and The Entrance, where Labor respectively leads by 0.5% and 0.6%; East Hills in southern Sydney, where the Liberals are 0.6% in front after a very strong result in a seat where their existing margin was just 0.1%; and Lismore, where the flow of preferences from a 25.3% Labor vote will decide if the Greens can overhaul a primary vote deficit against the Nationals of 29.2% to 40.1%.

Due to the other distractions, Lismore was the only seat I looked at closely yesterday, as an apparent Greens win had been thrown into doubt by the counting of 886 postal votes, 56.9% of which were for the Nationals. This was 17.5% higher than their polling booth vote, compared with only an 8.2% difference in 2011. No indicative Nationals-versus-Greens preference count is being conducted in this seat – the lineball result on the ABC site is based on Antony Green’s guesstimate of likely preference flows. The NSWEC has pulled its original Nationals-versus-Labor preference count and is telling us we won’t get anything back until “the Distribution of Preferences has been completed for all Districts and candidates have been declared elected”.

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.

168 comments on “New South Wales election late counting”

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  1. Seems the Labor claim to have officially won Gosford by 76 was actually just the end of the quick throw. A margin of 203 has now been published in the formal distribution. Similar increase in The Entrance.

  2. From memory, the first Democrat elected in the seat of Mitcham was Robin Millhouse, a St Peter’s College contemporary of Don Dunstan and a rival from the other side of politics. Millhouse moved from Liberal Country League to Liberal Movement and then to Australian Democrats.

    When he retired to become Chief Justice of Kiribati, Mitcham was held for the Democrats by Heather Southcott, who died only recently.

  3. Norm Sanders, who said one of the best political one liners i ever heard, was a member for Denison in the Tasmanian House of Assembly 1980-82 when he was elected to the Senate

  4. Sanders did not take a Senate seat until 1985.
    When the ALP imploded over the Franklin river in December 1981 Harry Holgate was surprised to find himself premier but without any hope of confidence. He had the Governor prorogue parliament for, I think 6 months until he eventually faced the house.
    Sanders was interviewed on national TV and was asked what was happening. He said wtte: Government in Tasmania currently consists of Holgate waking up, looking in his shaving mirror and saying in a loud voice ‘ Harry Holgate, Premier of Tasmania’

  5. I hate cross-posting, but if anyone is still watching this post, the slow counting of BTL votes looks like leaving the final seat in the Legislative Council wide open. No Land Tax is polling 7.4% with BTL votes and the Coalition only 19.4%. The rate of BTL voting appears to be about 1.7%, which means No Land Tax can pass the tenth Coalition candidate. See here

  6. The Honourable Peter Jones – who would have thought it?
    Surely some action can be taken under the false advertising legislation

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