Herbert recount thread

A progressively updated post on the recount in the Queensland seat of Herbert, after the initial count was determined in Labor’s favour by eight votes.

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.

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.

240 comments on “Herbert recount thread”

  1. Barney of Saigon, on personal votes BTL: Tasmania (of course) recorded a few big ones in the 1950s; personal votes in double figures were not at all unusual and in fact happened pretty much every election. I think the largest was 22.9% for Reg Wright in 1949, which saw him elected in first position from fourth on the Liberal ticket. Both Labor and Liberal generally had at least one non-lead candidate in double figures in every 1950s election in Tasmania. Of course these aren’t REALLY below the line, as there was no line at this point.

    I’m not positive, but I’m fairly sure Singh holds the record since there has been a line. I’m not sure who the previous record holder is, but finding out sounds like a fun thing to do, so stay tuned!

  2. Well, according to my run-through of the results, the previous record holder for BTL vote since 1984 (the introduction of Group Ticket Voting and the line itself) was Nick Sherry, who got 4.5% from second on the Labor ticket in Tasmania in 1996. I noted all the results of more than 1%, and needless to say they were all from Tasmania or the ACT (or the NT, where there were sometimes very few candidates early on).

    A few fun facts – in second place was a complete unknown, Hugh Saddler, who got 3.7% from second on the ACT Labor ticket in 1984. I counted 30 instances of a BTL vote above 1% (not counting this year), of which 22 were Tasmanian, 3 were from the ACT, and 5 were from the Northern Territory. Only one involved a non-major party candidate: Roslyn Dundas got 1.1% as the second ACT Democrats candidate in 2001. There were only five instances of a vote above 2%, though: Sherry, Saddler, John Coates (Tas, ALP #3, 3.4%) in 1984, Michael Townley (Tas, Lib #3, 2.8%) in 1984, and Sherry again (Tas, ALP #2, 2.3%) in 2001.

  3. I should also say that I only looked at non-lead candidates; it’s possible lead candidates might have recorded some decent BTL votes as well, especially in Tasmania.

  4. Not sure why anyone thinks Turnbull wouldn’t want to go to a by-election. If the declared result goes against him the worst he can do is the status quo. There would be a downside if he loses, but it would blow over (assuming Bernardi, Andrews, Abetz, Abbott & co. don’t make mischief).

  5. Triton

    As a rule, governments don’t like by-elections. They absolutely hate them in marginal seats. It just opens up the protest vote, gives oxygen to Oppositions, and can distracts from the business of governing.

    When you are 1 or 2 ratbags away from losing your majority (looking at you MonkeyPod and QLD LNP) you don’t want to be giving the people the chance to vote on how you are travelling.

    Ian Macdonald will be quitely told to STFU regarding a challenge to Herbert result

  6. Jeff, AEC said they would finish on Wednesday. With only 1 booth to go, they will meet this target. Probably all at the pub now.

  7. Thanks Sprocket.
    I don’t trust those Fibs mate. If they are down at the pub than I hope someone is trustworthy enough to look after the ballot boxes that are left to be counted.
    Keep an eye on that bastard Brandis.

  8. Rasmussen is in now, so all ordinary booths have been rechecked. My understanding from KB is that at least some of the four declaration vote categories have been recounted? If so, we could be seeing the preference distribution starting as soon as tomorrow.

  9. Scratch that pub rumour.

    Rasmussen just declared as accurately counted. Final result (I think) is:

    Cathy O’Toole (Labor) elected the new Member for Herbert by 37 votes.

  10. frickeg @ #203 Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Well, according to my run-through of the results, the previous record holder for BTL vote since 1984 (the introduction of Group Ticket Voting and the line itself) was Nick Sherry, who got 4.5% from second on the Labor ticket in Tasmania in 1996. I noted all the results of more than 1%, and needless to say they were all from Tasmania or the ACT (or the NT, where there were sometimes very few candidates early on).
    A few fun facts – in second place was a complete unknown, Hugh Saddler, who got 3.7% from second on the ACT Labor ticket in 1984. I counted 30 instances of a BTL vote above 1% (not counting this year), of which 22 were Tasmanian, 3 were from the ACT, and 5 were from the Northern Territory. Only one involved a non-major party candidate: Roslyn Dundas got 1.1% as the second ACT Democrats candidate in 2001. There were only five instances of a vote above 2%, though: Sherry, Saddler, John Coates (Tas, ALP #3, 3.4%) in 1984, Michael Townley (Tas, Lib #3, 2.8%) in 1984, and Sherry again (Tas, ALP #2, 2.3%) in 2001.

    Great work, thanks.
    How about Xenophon the first time he was elected to the Senate?

  11. Barney: I was about to go all, no, Xenophon still had a ticket and all that, but I just looked and he did manage 2.99% BTL, which is pretty huge. Just from a quick wander around the 2007 AEC pages I can definitively say that the records above definitely do not apply to first-position candidates. Bob Brown had 5.29% that year; Kerrie Tucker got 7.63%!! (I suspect pretty strongly that it’s really only Tasmania, ACT, NT that would record anything major, though. Xenophon is a huge anomaly in coming from SA.)

  12. The LNP wanting to look at the declaration envelopes is interesting.

    They can’t ask to exclude votes already counted as once the ballots are admitted to the count the genie is out of the bottle. They can’t get the ballot back into the envelope now as the AEC procedures ensure you cannot identify any voter from the ballot paper once it has gone into the box. Ballots can of course be deemed informal during the count if not completed correctly but there is no way to undo the inclusion of the declaration votes already added to the count. If they can argue, after looking at the envelopes, that if enough were wrongly included to affect the result they can ask for the result to be voided.

    I can see they might want to see if any declaration votes were incorrectly excluded but as they cannot see the actual ballot they can’t know that any vote they could get included would help or hinder them I’d guess that their motivation is just to get evidence for possible challenge.

  13. Thanks, Kevin. It has sometimes looked as if the booth & dec vote recount processes have been running separately but concurrently. Be interesting to see if that is, indeed, the case.

  14. Afraid I’m certainly not sure if “that’s it” K17. Let’s wait for an official “announcement”. Much rather be ALP than LNP in Herbert on the current count , though!

  15. Sprocket_, I take your point, but the difference between 76 and 77 is huge for Turnbull. With 76 he can’t lose anyone. With 77 he would at least have the insurance of one member, so I think he’d think it’s worth risking.

    If this is the final result for Herbert then I guess O’Toole will take her place pending a possible by-election and Turnbull will only have 76 when parliament resumes.

  16. AEC
    @AusElectoralCom
    “1 of 2 tweets. Herbert Recount of votes concluded this evening with a margin of 35 votes in favour of the ALP candidate. #ausvotes”

  17. AEC
    @AusElectoralCom
    <i."2 of 2Electoral Act next requires full distrib of prefs, prepare Wed, distrib Thurs & takes at least 2 days. Confirms final margin #ausvotes"

  18. AEC
    @AusElectoralCom
    “2 of 2Electoral Act next requires full distrib of prefs, prepare Wed, distrib Thurs & takes at least 2 days. Confirms final margin #ausvotes”

  19. [If this is the final result for Herbert then I guess O’Toole will take her place pending a possible by-election and Turnbull will only have 76 when parliament resumes.]
    Now they have to do the full distribution of preferences.

    You’d like to think this will be very close to the final result after the distribution given that every vote has now been counted and scrutinised twice!

  20. The difference between 75+1 Speaker and 76+1 Speaker is also important as an ‘absolute majority’ ie 76 guaranteed votes, is required for Constitutional altering bills, and more importantly for motions to suspend standing orders without notice, and without leave.

  21. [Constitutional altering bills, and more importantly for motions to suspend standing orders without notice, and without leave.]
    So the government will have to follow regular order more closely and actually put bills on the notice paper properly instead of just suspending standing orders to introduce new legislation or amend the notice paper.

  22. Pardon my ignorance. Can the forthcoming full distribution of preferences from tomorrow change the current 35 vote margin to ALP?

  23. It would not be surprising to see small changes of a vote here and there but one would really hope not enough to overturn a 35-vote margin at this stage.

    It has been a very fast recount by comparison with Fairfax so I hope they’re not rushing up there!

  24. And 35 votes is a reasonable margin to defend in the event of a court of disputed returns challenge. The smaller the margin, the greater the chance of a successful challenge.

  25. Tweet from AEC says the following.
    ‘Herbert Recount of votes concluded this evening with a margin of 35 votes in favour of the ALP candidate.
    Electoral Act next requires full distrib of prefs, prepare Wed, distrib Thurs & takes at least 2 days. Confirms final margin’
    So still some time to wait.

  26. kevin bonham @ #236 Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    It would not be surprising to see small changes of a vote here and there but one would really hope not enough to overturn a 35-vote margin at this stage.
    It has been a very fast recount by comparison with Fairfax so I hope they’re not rushing up there!

    Wasn’t Fairfax slowed down by bloody-minded scrutineers for Palmer?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *