Monday night. A spectacular day at the office for Labor’s Cathy O’Toole, who now leads by 73 votes after gaining 39 votes, while LNP member Ewen Jones lost 36. Furthermore, it has been reported that the AEC expects the count to be finalised tomorrow (Tuesday), so there presumably isn’t much prospect of that being chased down. The biggest contributor to the change was the Vincent booth, where, AAP reports, One Nation preferences “were mistakenly put in the LNP candidate’s column rather than Labor’s”. As Kevin Bonham points out in comments, this recount process is picking up a considerable number of errors in counting of preferences because, as I explained in Crikey last week, the AEC skipped with the full distribution of preferences that normally precedes the initiation of a recount, and such votes have been checked one time less than they would normally have been. There was also a significant change at the Northern Beaches booth, where Labor gained 10 and the LNP lost 13. Together with tiny adjustments to the pre-poll and postal totals, changes were made to the results of 12 ordinary polling booths yesterday, bringing the total up to 23 out of 43, although that doesn’t include booths that may have been checked but required no change. Comments thread denizens have ascertained there are 11 yet to be examined, based on time stamps for the booths on the AEC results pages. That will be followed by a full redistribution of preferences, with each last-placed candidate excluded and their preferences distributed in turn, which could yet turn up further anomalies. An AAP report in The Australian indicates the Coalition is preparing two grounds for a legal challenge:
One was the possibility that soldiers based in Townsville were among 628 ADF personnel who were on Exercise Hamel in South Australia during the election campaign and did not cast their votes. The other is whether 39 patients at the Townsville hospital were denied a vote in the late afternoon of election day. Senator (Ian) Macdonald said he understood complaints were made to Townsville hospital staff that patients could not cast their ballots between 5pm and 6pm.
Sunday night. It’s been an action packed first three days of recounting in Herbert, with Labor’s lead mounting from its starting point of eight to 13 on Friday and then to 16 on Saturday, before a reversal of fortune yesterday gave the LNP it’s present lead of one solitary vote. Adjustments have been made over the three days to absent votes (LNP up five, Labor up three) and pre-polls (Labor up 16, LNP up eight) and 11 of the 43 ordinary polling booths (Labor down 20, LNP down five). The two most substantial movements were at Railway Estate (LNP up 14, Labor down 16) and Belgian Gardens (LNP down eight, Labor down one). The Townsville and Kirwan pre-poll voting centres, which were revised heavily in Labor’s favour during the rechecking process, have respectively been changed to have the LNP down six and Labor up five, and the LNP up three and Labor down two.
Friday 4pm. The Herbert recount, which the AEC says could take up to a fortnight, has begun with revision to the absent and pre-poll totals. I’m slightly puzzled by because it seems to involve admission of the last handful of unprocessed votes that have been listed as such for the past few days, or which four are now listed as outstanding. I’m seeking clarification on this from the AEC. The changes have been slightly to Labor’s net advantage, with pre-polls going 16-8 their way, although absents went 5-2 to the LNP.