Legislative Council Count Updates ANTONY GREEN

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April 08, 2015


Why do we persist with this quota system for the Legislative Council and the Senate? Why not simply allow each voter to vote for the number of candidates that the LC or Senate is to elect? So, for the Senate, each voter from each state votes for 12 candidates. (each voter from each territory votes for 2 ). For the NSW LC each voter would vote for 21 (half) or 42 (full). The 12 senate candidates or the 21/42 LC candidates with the highest number of votes are elected. fair and simple.

COMMENT: What you are describing is block system, a voting method that became useless as soon as formalised parties appeared. It used to result in one party winning all vacancies. It was abandoned for the Senate in 1919, though an equivalent preferential bot non-quota system was used until 1949. So after the 1946 election the Chifey government had a majority of 33-3. What would be the point of having a Senate if it could end up with one party having a 76-0 majority. Or in the case of the Scullin government in 1929 or Cook government in 1913, have a government facing a massive opposition majority in the Senate.

Antony, great coverage and commentary as usual.

Much of the calculation of where the AJP will end up relies on predictions of how many Green (and other minor party, e.g. No Parking Meters, Bicycles, VE) voters preference them. What history do we have to rely on about this percentage?

You have indicated you expect it will be less than 50% following the Greens HTV. Why?

COMMENT: Because in the past barely 25% of Green voters have indicated any upper house preference, meaning individual flows are even weaker. I don’t expect that rate to more than double at the 2015 election.

I did some analysis of what preferences existed at the 2011 election in the following post. http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/08/measuring-the-performance-of-the-new-nsw-legislative-council-electoral-system.html

Overall at past elections, as the last candidate of each party was excluded, 80-85% of preferences exhausted. I don’t expect that rate to be much different in 2015.

Off topic: It seems to me electing someone for an eight-year term on a statewide “list” isn’t very democratic or accountable no matter who wins.

After Victoria went to an election tying the whole of the Legislative Council to the term of the of the Legislative Assembly, using STV to vote for five MLCs each in eight districts, just as Western Australia elects six MLCs each in six districts, has New South Wales or South Australia ever considered switching to a similar model as Victoria and Western Australia have?

Has there been any move to establish an elected LC in Queensland of late?

Your analysis is appreciated by professional and amateur psephologists everywhere.

COMMENT: Queensland requires a referendum to re-create a Legislative Council. NSW and South Australia would both require referendums to end the staggered terms. South Australia has discussed the subject without getting anywhere. NSW moved from four rotations to three in 1978 by referendum, and three rotations to two in 1991 by referendum. There has been no proposal yet to go further with change.

Antony, where have the preliminary BTL figures come from? I can’t find them on the NSWEC website.

COMMENT: Some data is now on the website.

Hi Antony,
Great information however I have a question slightly off topic. Penny Sharp ran for a lower house seat and was defeated. How can she now get a seat in the upper house?

COMMENT: Both Penny Sharpe and Steve Whan resigned from Legislative Council seats that did not face election on March 28. When the new parliament sits, both vacancies have to be filled. There is nothing to stop Sharpe being re-appointed to the vacancy created by her resignation.

This has happened in the past. Fred Nile resigned from the Council in 2004 to contest the Senate. When he was unsuccessful he was re-appointed to the vacancy his resignation created.

If there was to be a re-run of the LC election, due to this (minor error), what would it cost the State of NSW?


It seems very strange that NLT would be polling at 7.4% in BTL votes? Why would the vote for NLT be over 4 times higher BTL, especially when their people handing out on polling day were advocating a vote 1 above the line? Do Donkey Voters favour BTL?

COMMENT: The same happened in 2007 when there was an unnamed group in Column A. The group had easily the highest rate of below the line voting.

While I fully get the concerns of the parties in relation to missing out as a result of the missing squares abobove the line on the ballot paper . Is there not a requirement that they check it themselves to see that all is correct beofre it is printed/uploaded?
If not why not. Sounds a bit like sour grapes to me and the cost – absolutely astronomical – I am amazed at the number of people that actutally think that the people crossong out namnes and running the election across the state are VOLUNTEERS. Which of course they are not!

COMMENT: The requirement is on the electoral commission to correctly publish ballot papers, not the candidates and parties.

Hi Antony,

If No Land Tax wins the final seat would the Animal Justice Party be in a position to request a re-run election?

COMMENT: In my view, only if the gap between the two parties is under 700 will the Animal Justice Party have a case. Read my previous post which still applies in part even if the No Land Tax party now outpolls the tenth Liberal. http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2015/04/could-nsw-be-facing-a-second-legislative-council-election.html

Hi Antony. Great info. You have in your article Labor as getting 7 Upper House seats. The last I heard, Labor was in line for 8. I assume that the 1 less seat is because of BTL voting? Furthermore, does this mean that Courtney Houssos misses out?

COMMENT: I don’t know where you heard that information. The Labor vote has never been above 7 quotas in the time I’ve been following it.

Antony, why is the ABC showing a 2pp swing against Gareth Ward in Kiama when the Electoral commission results confirm a swing to the sitting Liberal Member? ABC bias? 🙂

COMMENT: Because someone turned the electronic feed of votes back on and it wiped out half of the results I had carefully manual data entered. When I get a chance I’ll have to do it again.

The count as at 12/4 has 3 million of the 4.2million above the line votes counted (about 72%). Do they count the votes booth by booth, electorate by electorate or does the system favour counting the easier above-the-line first?

My thinking is that if 72% of the total vote is counted and there is 50,000 below the line then there is probably only 14,000 below the line left to come. A smaller number of votes left to come below the line favours the Animal Justice Party over the Coalition in percentage terms. With 3 candidates left, the Coalition then drops out probably almost all exhausting (because a significant percentage of their vote will be a 1 above the line). The Animal Justice would seem favoured as above and below the line Greens and others flow to them.

COMMENT: As explained to me, the LC check count the NSWEC publishes is of completed booths, so it is of count centres where all above and below the line votes have been check counted and data entered. So the tally does not have a bias in favour of either above or below the line votes.

As for preferences, if more than 25% of Green voters gave preferences above the line I would be surprised. Many would go to Labor, and as Labor is short of a seventh quota, those preferences would stay with Labor. There is also the problem that the Greens and Animal Justice are at opposite ends of the ballot paper. The Greens will have a surplus of around 35,000 votes, and Animal Justice would need 10% of those to close the gap on No Land Tax. That is an enormous flow based on past NSW LC elections.

G’day Antony,

Slightly off-topic, so sorry, but have the NSWEC indicated to you if they will post Two-Candidate Preferred results for the LA in booth-by-booth format for districts?

Once the declaration of the polls and DoP has occurred they seem to have fallen off the website.

COMMENT: It will be released at some stage but I can’t tell you when.

Antony, how are preferences allocated? If a party receives say, 1.4 quota which part of the 1.4 quota is allocated as the .4 available for allocation?

COMMENT: The NSW Legislative Council uses the pre-1984 Senate system of random sampling ballot papers. This is a very simplified explanation, but if the lead candidate of a party had 1.4 quotas, it would have a surplus of 0.4. So (0.4/1.4) = 28.6% of ballot papers would be randomly sampled from the original tally and distributed as preferences.

Random sampling only applies to preferences from surplus to quota votes. If a candidate is excluded as having the lowest tally at any point in the count, all votes are distributed and no sampling is involved..

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