Late counting: rolling coverage

Progressively updated commentary on late counting of the results from the 2022 federal election.

Click here for full federal election results updated live.

Saturday, May 28

As I should have noted yesterday, the AEC has published all-important three-candidate preferred counts for Brisbane and Macnamara, where the results hinge on who will finish second and third out of the Labor and the Greens. With “88% of the total expected ballot papers” accounted for in Brisbane, the Greens lead Labor by 29.55% to 28.56% (with the LNP on 41.89%), which is sufficient for the ABC to have called the result.

Macnamara on the other hand is exquisitely close three ways, with the Liberal candidate on 33.56%, Labor member Josh Burns on 33.50% and Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May on 32.93%. This suggests 46.9% of minor candidate preferences are going to Liberal, 35.9% are going to the Greens and only 17.2% are going to Labor. For the Greens to win, two things need to happen after the remaining 6500 or so outstanding votes are counted: they need to close their 495 vote deficit against Labor, and the Liberals need to not fall to third.

The first of these seems entirely possible. If the outstanding batches behave like those already counted, they should make up around 200 out of 3300 pre-polls and 100 out of 1100 declaration pre-polls. If the 300 or so provisionals behave like they did in 2019, they should make up a further 40 or so. Then there’s the COVID votes, of which there are about 1000, and which are apparently also expected to favour the Greens. Postals are diminishing in number, but each batch continues to be better for the Greens than the last, to the extent that today’s was the first on which they gained on Labor.

As for the Liberals, the 3CP count has them 545 ahead of the Greens and 50 ahead of Labor. There seems no particular reason to think they will either gain or lose in large degree relative to Labor out of any of the remaining vote types, so everything that was just said about the Greens relative to Labor applies to the Greens relative to Liberal as well. The question is whether the chips just happen to fall in such a way that Labor gains 50 votes or so at their expense. I am flying blind here with respect to the COVID votes, and also with how many postals can be expected – postals can arrive until Friday, and I can’t really tell you how many tend to trickle in in the second week.

All of this amounts to bad news for Labor in its quest for 76 seats, with Brisbane now out of the picture and the odds most likely leaning against them in Macnamara, which I for one thought they had in the bag earlier in the week, and which my results system is continuing to call as Labor retain due to its inability to think in three-party terms. The likely retention of Lyons only gets them to 75: they now need a late break in their favour in Gilmore or, less likely, Deakin. A great deal hinges on the absents, declaration pre-polls and COVID votes in these seats, on which we remain none the wiser, with no progress in either count today.

Friday, May 27

My results system is now registering Ryan as a Greens gain from the LNP, as the fresh two-candidate count finally advances enough to tip the probability dial over 99%. Similarly, Wannon has been restored to the Liberals after further booths were added in the Liberal-versus-independent count that was begun yesterday, and Nicholls is now being called for the Nationals as Rob Priestly’s independent bid falls short.

Labor aren’t dead yet in Deakin, where rechecking today gained them 138 on postals and 37 on ordinary votes, while costing the Liberals 169 and 30. However, there was little in it in today’s batches of absents, which broke 236-232 to Labor, and declaration pre-polls, which broke 463-462 to Liberal. Labor will perhaps need about 55% of what’s outstanding to reel in a Liberal lead that today shrank from 1032 to 655.

The contention related yesterday by Antony Green that late counting would favour the Greens in Macnamara was borne out in that the latest batch of 1951 postals were much stronger for them than earlier batches and they also performed well on the first 965 declaration pre-polls, particularly relative to Labor. Their situation will apparently continue to improve from here, but the secret of the final result remains hidden in the preference flows, on which I can offer no hard information.

It seems rechecking of ordinary and postal votes turned up 157 extra ordinary votes for the Liberals in Lyons, but little else. The first absents from the seat broke 696-621 to Labor. That leaves Labor’s lead at 678, down from 784 yesterday. For the second day in a row, the only progress in Gilmore was rechecking, which cost the Liberals 41 votes and Labor five. Counting will continue over the weekend.

Thursday, May 26

The ABC is calling Lyons for Labor after the correction of errors gave Labor a 582-vote fillip on ordinary votes. My system isn’t quite there yet though, in part because each batch of postals so far has been better for the Liberals than the last, the latest breaking 1508 (56.1%) to 1178 (43.9%). However, it may also be because the ABC has formed a more considered view than I have as to how many outstanding votes remain.

I have been assuming for some time that Labor will win Macnamara, which together with Lyons would put Labor over the line to 76 seats and a majority. However, Antony Green has dropped by in comments with an account of his own decision to hold off on such a call, informed by Labor member Josh Burns’ own lack of confidence. Specifically, both Labor and the Greens believe the Greens will enjoy a surge when absents and “an estimated 1000 COVID votes” are added to the count. On top of anything else, this is the first intelligence I have received as to how many COVID votes might be expected, here or anywhere else.

The very first absent and declaration pre-polls were added to the count today, mostly in Deakin, which respectively got 455 and 449 (there were also 787 absent votes added in Lingiari). The absents in Deakin broke 251-204 to Labor, but the pre-polls went 249-200 against. However, there was a turn in Labor’s favour on postals, which broke only 1493 (51.1%) to 1427 (48.9%) in the Liberals’ favour, compared with 58.8% to 41.2% on the previous batches. With the Liberal lead at 1032, Labor will need everything to go right on the remaining postals (perhaps about 3000), outstanding absents and declaration pre-polls (seemingly around 3500 apiece), COVID votes (around 1000, I guess) and provisional votes (a couple of hundred).

I’m not sure of the details, but rechecking of ordinary votes in Gilmore today was to the advantage of Andrew Constance, who gained 25 while Labor lost 149. No new postal votes were added to the count. Another 4095 postals in Brisbane didn’t fundamentally change the situation described here yesterday, with Labor continuing to hold a 0.7% lead over the Greens on the primary vote that I don’t think will be quite enough for them when preferences are distributed. Liberal member Celia Hammond conceded defeat to independent Kate Chaney in Curtin, perhaps because the latest batch of postals sharplhy reversed earlier form in breaking 1955 (52.3%) to 1780 (47.7%) to Chaney.

My system has withdrawn Wannon as a confirmed Liberal retain, not because such a result has become objectively less likely, but because the AEC has concluded Labor will run third and begun a fresh two-candidate count between Liberal member Daniel Tehan and independent Alex Dyson. This has so far accounted for only about 10% of the vote, and is presently giving Tehan a fairly modest lead of 52.2-47.8. Based on the relationship at polling booth level between the Liberal primary vote and the share of preferences, I am expecting this to inflate quite substantially and do not believe Tehan is in trouble.

Wednesday, May 25

My results system today called Dickson for the Coalition, bringing them to 51 seats, to which I think it more than likely that Casey, Menzies, Cowper, Nicholls and Moore will shortly be added. Labor remains on 74, and I don’t think there is any real doubt they will further gain Bennelong. Batches of postal votes are being added to the count in diminish number, but we still haven’t seen any absents or declaration pre-polls, which we can at least make broad guesses about based on past performance, or the COVID-19 electronic assisted voting results, which are anyone’s guess.

Here’s the latest from the seats that may add further to the Labor count, any one of which will get them to a majority:

Brisbane. The result remains at the mercy of unavailable information on how minor candidate preferences are flowing between the Greens, Labor and the LNP. A source familiar with the matter has passed on an informal tally based on observation of pre-poll and postal vote counting that suggests around 50% of preferences are flowing to the LNP, 32% to the Greens and 17% to Labor. If this is accurate, Labor will need a primary vote lead of about 1% when all the votes are in to remain ahead of the Greens during the preference distribution. Currently the gap is 0.7%, having increased today from 34 votes to 528 following a batch of postal votes that was actually weaker for Labor than the previous. However, that’s likely to be sent down rather than up by absent votes, on which Greens do well. So it would appear the Greens remain favourites.

Gilmore. Labor had a better batch of postals today, which only favoured the Liberals by 754 (51.3%) to 715 (48.7%) compared with 5895 (54.5%) to 4913 (45.5%) from the previous batches. With further unfavourable adjustments from ordinary vote rechecking, that increased Andrew Constance’s lead only from 104 to 112, with postals now set to slow to a trickle. This isn’t quite the lead Andrew Constance would have wanted ahead of what’s likely to be a Labor gain when absents are added.

Lyons. There seems to be an improving trend here for the Liberals on postals, the latest batch of which broke 1103 (55.6%) to 882 (44.4%) their way compared with 2966 (50.9%) to 2857 (49.1%) against them previously. If the remaining postals break the same as this latest batch, there’s going to be next to nothing in it.


Curtin. Liberal member Celia Hammond has brought Kate Chaney’s lead on the raw count inside 1%, but today’s postals were actually a bit weaker for her than previous batches, favouring her by 1075 (55.3%) to 868 (44.7%) compared with 6729 (59.4%) to 4605 (40.6%) previously. They were also notable fewer than number, and have still left her 1640 behind. As noted here yesterday, the 2019 result suggests absents are unlikely to favour her. The dynamic may be a little different this time given the redistribution has pushed the boundary substantially northwards, and many absent votes are cast just outside an electorate’s boundaries, though I can’t specifically think why this would make them a whole lot more favourable to the Liberals.

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.

397 comments on “Late counting: rolling coverage”

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  1. And what I can add is that those who control that Capital live in the suburbs which have returned Teal independents – and were active in support of those candidates both on the ground and with their private wealth (including support for Labor to ensure a commanding majority on the floor of the House)

    Hence the results – a change of government and a commanding majority to end the climate wars

  2. Updated 3CP posted by AEC overnight.

    Kevin Bonham’s comments on this…

    Saturday 8:30 A new 3CP is out with votes from extra absents and dec prepolls. Harkin has somehow got ahead now (Harkin 29202 Burns 29152 Hodgins-May 28657). The AEC say the current vote share is about 93% of expected turnout, which would put expected turnout on 87.5% (down from 89.1%). To come, about 1450 absents, 300 provisionals, 3000 dec prepolls and maybe 1750 postals and COVID votes. Burns over Hodgins-May is just 495 votes but unless there are a lot of COVID votes and they are spectacularly Green it’s hard to see that being closed. And if it is, that means COVID votes are left-wing and Burns should get over Harkin again. Still not completely settled though!

    Saturday 9:30 Just ran a 3CP projection on remaining absents and dec prepolls and I have the Greens only about 200 behind (less after provisionals) and the Liberals 130 ahead. And that will come down still more on provisionals, and then there’s remaining postals and provisional votes. Anything could happen!

  3. Fascinating … I love that there’s this new element of “COVID votes” we have no idea about, estimated to be larger than the gap.

    Combine that with three parties who have essentially tied on primary votes and it is really a credit to the AEC, civic society, the design of the systen and the voters in general that this is progressing in a clear, sober way.

    In many other places in many other points in history, especially with the seat meaning the difference between majority and minority government during a handover of power, this situation would be so murky and contested.

    It’s quite humbling in a way to consider that despite some genuine problems, we really do live in a great country.

    Thanks to the candidates and their volunteers of all stripes! It can’t be easy for you this week.

  4. Monique Ryan may have enfranchised the deciding votes in Macnamara. What a credit to her and really just an all round impressive candidate!

  5. My reading of the expert psephologists on this great site, is that Macnamara is becoming the key in deciding if the number 76 prevails.
    It’s ebbed and flowed. To summarise Bush’s defence secretary “ there are known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns”.
    My question: I assume only Labor or the Greens can win based on the data locked in.
    I also assume this count will drag on till weeks end. They have to get it right.
    It looks as though a lot will depend on this count. It’s called governance.

  6. Only a truly spectacular leakage of preferences would allow the Liberals to win – I would put the odds at less than 1:100,000 (the scrutineers would already be aware of it)

  7. It’s true, if there was a seat this close in the USA there’d have already been 3 lawsuits and a bunch of Republican protesters outside the count alternating between “stop the count” and “count the votes!” depending on the state of the count.

  8. Okay, I’m going to frame some markets for a bit of fun;
    $1.25 ALP
    $4 Greens
    $1.60 ALP
    $2.20 LNP
    $1.05 LNP
    $13 ALP

    Basis for odds:
    It seems ALP have two bites of the cherry in Macnamara. 50/50 to finish in front of Greens OR 50/50 to finish in front of Libs.
    In Gilmore, it’s bloody close but ALP perhaps a 100 vote winner using previous election results. Deakin should go LNP but not quite dead yet.

  9. Oakeshotte, if you’re referring to Macnamara the Liberals were never even close to being in the race even before election day. Their significance is really just that where they finish in the 3PP count decides whether the Greens can win or not, it adds an extra dimension to the Greens needing to pass Labor, because the Libs also can’t fall behind Labor.

    Basically depending on the final order, I expect the following results for the three 2CP possibilities:

    ALP win v LIB (at least 62-38)
    GRN win v LIB (probably similar)
    ALP win v GRN (prob around 54-46)

    Whatever the outcome, it’s the worst result for the Liberals since either 1984 or 1966, depending on whether you judge by 2PP or primary vote. And the boundaries were very different back then! So it’s an absolute thumping for the Liberals.

    They didn’t even hand out HTVs in the afternoon at my polling place! And doubt they even have scrutineers watchingbthe count.

    All the Greens’ campaign material in Macnamara actually started with “The Liberals cannot win this seat, it’s a contest between Labor and the Greens” and I think that probably helped neutralise some of the “I better vote Labor to make sure the Libs don’t win” factor.

    The Liberal candidate took offence to that and posted a graph showing the Libs had the highest primary vote last time (only 37%) claiming “Most people in Macnamara want a Liberal MP”. I don’t know when 37% became “most”, but anyway…. 🙂

  10. Trent agreed but i was answering Al Pal’s question on whether a result other than Green or ALP was possible

    thank you for your modelling – it has been very erudite

  11. That’s good news sprocket. Hopefully Macnamara, Deakin and Gilmore continue counting. Surely they would be the priority.

  12. I have an interesting question for those who know their political history.

    If Macnamara was to finish on a GRN v LIB count (and it’s guaranteed that Labor will still finish first on primary votes), will that be the first time ever that a candidate who won the primary vote actually doesn’t make the 2CP count?

    Obviously we know parties have won from third before (Prahran 2014 and 18), but has a candidate actually gone from first to not making the top two?

  13. Some comments on the other thread from a Gilmore source..

    Re Gilmore, Fiona’s team is cautious but remain optimistic.

    The main issue is the 55-45 postal vote flowing to Constance. They aren’t sure how many more could come in and just what exactly the margin will be they have to chase down before the absentee count kicks in which they are assuming will flow favourably to Fiona.

    Irrespective there will almost surely be a recount and there have been several identified instances of incorrect preference allocations at several booths that will been to be investigated.

  14. edit: sorry I now get the scenario

    I am trying to think of a contest between 2nd and 3rd because the 1st place getter was overtaken by minor party preferences. This would take a strong 4th candidate. I am sure such cases have occurred but can’t think of one at the moment

  15. Antony Green

    The three seats left in doubt will have no fresh counting today. Staff will be processing declaration envelopes to be ready for a big count on Monday. That should clarify the final result – unless the three seats remain ultra-close. #ausvotes

  16. What would be really astonishing, if somehow Labor manage to be pushed to third, they would have had the most first preferences AND would have won a run off against the two candidates that made the 2cp

  17. Still can’t think of an Australian example but the closest thing to a preferential election is a Dáil by election and the recent increased move away from the two party system in Ireland makes this scenario quite possible
    So: in the 2014 Dublin West by electionáil_constituency)#2014_by-election
    The primaries were SF (provisional) 20.9 Socialist (Official SF) 20.6 FF 17.5 Ind 13 FG 12.
    SF traditionally does not gain many preferences and at the 5th count went to third place. The final count was Socialist vs FF

    edit: The Socialist party is distinct from the Official Sinn Féin which at that time was the Workers’ Party

  18. @Revisionist

    By world standards it’s not so astonishing.
    In first past the post you might have a Conservative winning on 27% of the vote because six progressive candidates had their votes split amongst them.

  19. Would Labor even have won in 2007 under first past the post? I imagine Hawke also wouldn’t have won four times.

  20. When I was a young man and the DLP roamed the earth, we of the ALP, saw preferential voting as the great crime against democracy.*
    Now, not so much.

    *(Gough Whitlam even made a terrible joke that the Irish were the only other people who had to put up with it)

  21. I have long thought that the only really fair preferential system was to count all candidates’ preferences.

    Currently only defeated candidates get 2 votes or more.

    Under the current system a candidate can be elected who is disliked by a majority of people(?).

  22. Swing Required @ #372 Sunday, May 29th, 2022 – 1:06 pm

    I have long thought that the only really fair preferential system was to count all candidates’ preferences.

    Currently only defeated candidates get 2 votes or more.

    Under the current system a candidate can be elected who is disliked by a majority of people(?).

    Under all systems, a candidate can be elected who is disliked by a majority of people. Not only that, there’s no guarantee that there will be a candidate that isn’t disliked by a majority of people in the first place.

    It’s faulty to think of it as “defeated candidates get extra votes”. It’s more along the lines of “if you voted for a candidate that doesn’t have a chance of winning, you haven’t wasted your vote”. It’s a quicker way of doing a runoff election.

    To use Griffith as an example, if you voted for Labor, your preference for Greens over Liberals (or vice versa) is still considered… but more importantly, your vote for Labor gets counted at the 3CP, and then your vote for, say, Greens gets counted at the 2CP. But at the same time, if you voted Greens, your vote for Greens gets counted at the 3CP, and then your vote for Greens also gets counted at the 2CP.

    It’s not that the eliminated candidates’ votes get counted again, it’s that all votes get counted again. That’s the “instant runoff” aspect of the system. It saves the voters from having to go back to the ballot box and vote again.

  23. I think all voting systems have potential holes, it’s unavoidable as there is no perfect system. Our system is probably the most fair and robust, because while a Greens v Lib 2CP in Macnamara would expose the one flaw in our system – that being that the eliminated candidate would have beaten both in a head to head while winning the primary vote – I believe it will possibly be the first time that has happened, so it will really be about a 1 in 5000 occurrence.

    Whereas most other systems (especially FPTP) result in unfair results a lot more frequently than that.

    On a side note, I hate the term “first past the post”. The post is a majority, and under that system they don’t actually have to pass it. It’s more like “Closest to the post”.

  24. @Freya Stark
    It’s an interesting conversation. I think Aus voters are quite tactically astute and generally don’t like to ‘waste a vote’ so I feel voting patterns would change. I think the amount of people voting a major party in the HOR and then a minor in the Senate would dramatically escalate.

  25. Trent, I agree with you that IR is the superior system all things considered.

    Obviously this involves unavoidable implicit subjective weightings of various objectives and principles though

    Certainly, as was found in a different discussion, you cannot objectively make it “better”

  26. It probably is, oakshott. It’s also used (and perhaps derived from) soccer style league systems with no playoff / finals

  27. That metaphor makes sense too Oakeshott Country, I just picture all the horses stopping before the finish line 🙂

  28. The fact there is a Coalition distorts first past the post in my view

    Labor and the Greens could form a Coalition

    So a bit like the vote for a Republic back in the day

  29. Instant run off was actually brought in in response to two conservative candidates losing to 21 year old Labor candidate in a conservative seat

  30. “Just ask Adam Bandt to agree to a Labor-Green pact.

    Just you try.”


    The Greens have been offering to work with Labor, it’s the ALP who have been ruling out doing any deals.

    The Greens and Labor can work very well together when we approach each other constructively. We did so during the Gillard/Bandt/Ind minority gov, and still do to this day as part of the long-running Labor/Green gov in the ACT.

  31. You don’t need a deal to work together. Working together in Parliament just means that you vote for legislation. You can give votes without deals.

  32. > @justzia01 32m
    > I think Flinders maybe the only Electorate for which we have the votes for people in Covid isolation. The following is the difference between Covid19 & overall PV

    > Libs: -11.16%
    > Labor: +2.97%
    > Greens: +4.17%
    > Independent: +2.73%

  33. Flinders converts to a 46.4% proportionately increased vote for Greens relative to the overall vote, 13.5% increase for ALP, and 25.6% proportionately reduced vote for LNP. The seat is further south on the same side of the bay as Macnamara, so possibly the Covid votes will behave similarly. I also note an even bigger boost to Animal Justice whose preferences overwhelmingly favour Greens. This may indicate further tightening of Macnamara coming up.

  34. Thanks Luke! A small sample size so I approach it with caution but it does support the expectation that the Greens should do the best on the Covid votes, and further close the gap a bit.

    Also I ran some numbers on how the dec prepolls and absents are breaking in 3CP terms (assuming a uniform 47 / 17.6 / 35.4 flow) rather than just on primary votes, just to make it simpler to apply a 3CP distribution to the remaining votes expected.

    Absents are breaking 31% LIB, 30.2% ALP and 38.8% GRN.

    Dec prepolls are breaking 33.1% LIB, 30.6% ALP, 36.3% GRN.

    One thing for certain there is that absents and decs are not hurting the Liberals relative to Labor, they’re actually padding the small Liberal lead.

    The question mark is whether there will be enough postal and Covid votes left – and that the Greens will continue to outperform Labor on postals – for the Greens to close their 495 vote deficit.

    I’m going to lay down my 3CP prediction now:

    1. LIB 33.5%
    2. ALP 33.3%
    3. GRN 33.2%

    I think at this point of the current results, with the Greens third on 32.93, the Libs first on around 33.6, and the remaining votes to favour the Greens, it will actually be pretty much impossible now for any of the 3 candidates to finish outside the 33.1% to 33.6% range.

    That’s an extraordinarily close 3CP race!

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