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Federal Election 2013

Sep 8, 2013

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Friday 3pm. Absents have now been wrapped up: 298 were disallowed, and the last 105 counted have broken 59-46 to Palmer, increasing his lead from 98 to 111. Still to be processed are 415 pre-polls and 155 postals, of which Ted O’Brien would need nearly 60%. However, the comment from Julian T below suggests that a number of the pre-polls will likewise be disallowed, and have been left out of the count to this point pending a final determination on the matter. If that’s so, Palmer looks to have it wrapped up, pending what might show up on a recount.

Thursday 5pm. The race that’s stopping the nation has today seen the addition only of 201 provisionals, which were the biggest imponderable of the remaining count. It turns out that they have broken very handily to Clive Palmer, 148-53, boosting his lead from three to 98. Still outstanding: about 650 absents and as many pre-polls, and about 150 postals. If they break as such votes have until now, the LNP will only be able to carve about 50 votes out of Palmer’s lead. UPDATE: Julian T in comments observes that a number of the supposedly outstanding pre-polls and absents will not in fact make it into account by virtue of being “disallowed”, as they involve voters submitting votes for Fairfax when they actually turned out to be enrolled elsewhere in Queensland. Ballots from such voters can be admitted for the Senate, but not the House. That likely makes the hill very difficult for Ted O’Brien to climb.

Wednesday 4pm. Clive Palmer lost the lead earlier today but at the time or writing has recovered it – by three votes. Troublingly for Palmer (assuming he does actually want to win), a batch of 395 absents were less good for him than those admitted previously, going 52.6-47.3 his way against a grand total of 56.6-43.4. By contrast, 474 pre-polls have maintained their trend of going 58-42 against him. Still to come: about 650 absents, on which he would hope to gain maybe 80; 550 pre-polls, on which he should lose them again; a trickle of postals (100, perhaps) that would then be likely to put him behind; and about 200 provisionals which will do who-knows-what.

Tuesday 6pm. From 502 on the weekend to 362 yesterday, Clive Palmer’s lead has now worn down to 65 after today’s counting of pre-polls went 830-588 against him and postals went 436-378. However, the postals were somewhat less bad for him than previous batches, and there’s now very few of them left. The bulk of the outstanding vote consists of about 1000 absents and pre-polls each, which appear likely to cancel each other out with the former going 57.0-43.0 for Palmer and the latter going 57.5-42.5 against. There are also likely to be about 200 provisional votes, which are an unknown quantity. Assuming the latter go 50-50, I’m currently projecting Palmer to win by 34 votes.

Monday 7:30pm. The AEC explains the Coolum Beach anomaly. Clive Palmer sought a Federal Court injunction today to have counting suspended, though to what end I’m not quite sure. As the AEC notes, the normal practice would be to petition the Court of Disputed Returns. The court has so far reserved its decision.

Monday 7pm. It appears the Coolum Beach PPVC mystery has finally been resolved. The votes for that booth had incorrectly been entered for the Buderim PPVC and vice-versa, and only now has the error been corrected. Since there are still no Senate votes recorded for Buderim PPVC, my earlier scatterplot did not show up a corresponding error for that booth. While it doesn’t look like there will be salvation for Clive Palmer in the form an uncovered vote count anomaly, he has gained ground with the addition of 1291 absent votes which continue to favour him quite strongly, in this case breaking 722-569 his way and giving his faltering lead a badly needed boost from 209 to 362.

Monday 4pm. Looks to be going right down to the wire, with another 1223 postal votes slashing Palmer’s lead by 293 to 209. There remain to come 2400 absents and a similar number of pre-polls, which have respectively been heavily favouring Palmer and O’Brien, along with maybe 500 postals which have been favouring O’Brien 62-38. My projection of where this is headed leaves nothing in it. In other news, Clive Palmer has today been raising the issue of the Coolum Beach PPVC discrepancy, though not in a way that might inspire the casual observer with confidence in his claims.

Saturday 8pm. Another 1306 pre-polls have gone badly for Clive Palmer, favouring Ted O’Brien 762-544 and cutting Palmer’s lead from 718 to 502. My projection of the share of the outstanding 7200 or so votes needed by O’Brien is down to 53.5% (assuming once again that nothing comes of this Coolum Beach PPVC anomaly).

Friday 3pm. Another 1792 postals have been just as favourable to Ted O’Brien as earlier batches, cutting 414 into a lead for Palmer that now stands at 718. There should be a bit over 2000 to come, which should further cut into Palmer’s lead by about 550. That leaves the result well and truly down to absents and pre-polls, the likely behaviour of which is a bit of a mystery at this stage. As to the apparent Coolum Beach anomaly, the commenter who raised the matter has received what to my mind is an unsatisfactory response from an AEC worker who appears not to have properly grasped the issue.

Thursday evening. Leaving aside the Coolum Beach PPVC issue, which is yet to acquire a life independent of this website, postals are flowing heavily enough to LNP to suggest an extremely close result. The addition of 2363 have cut 611 votes from Palmer’s lead, and could potentially take out a further 1000 of the remaining 1132 if there are indeed 4000 of them outstanding and they continue to behave like the previous batch. However, Palmer has done much better out of 855 absents, on which he has gained 79 votes and of which there are about 2000 more to come. There are also around 2000 pre-polls, which look likely to favour the LNP.

Wednesday evening. Michal Klaus in comments notes that the Coolum Beach pre-poll voting centre booth, the addition of which did so much to swing the count in Ted O’Brien’s favour, “could be one of the most extreme outliers anywhere in Australia”. He’s not wrong:

As the above chart clearly shows, the 55.87% primary vote recorded for Ted O’Brien at the booth is entirely out of whack with its 36.27% Senate vote for the Liberal National Party. There are also 575 more votes recorded there for the House than the Senate. Clearly there is an Indi-style error waiting to be uncovered here, either in relation to the House or the Senate vote. Given there are ballpark similarities between the Coolum booths for the Senate and a strong discrepancy with Coolum Beach PPVC on the House numbers, it seems safe to assume that the error is with the House results, and that Ted O’Brien’s tally is consequently higher than it should be. To shift the Coolum Beach PPVC data point to where it should be in the above chart, about 1000 votes need to be deducted from O’Brien’s total.

Wednesday 5pm. The count continues to trend away from Clive Palmer overall, who perhaps faces a further headache from the yet-to-report “BLV Fairfax” pre-poll voting centre in Maroochydore. If it’s anything like the other PPVCs in Maroochydore, it could cost Palmer as much as 1000 votes of a lead which currently sits at 1664 (UPDATE: LTEP notes in comments that the BLV booths in fact do very limited business). Other late counting has been a mixed bag, with absent votes favouring Palmer 827-565, but pre-polls going 381-328 the other way. The total number of such votes should perhaps be around 4500 and 2500, and there should further be about 5000 postals, none of which have been counted yet. So a fair bit of life in this one yet.

Election night. I don’t believe Antony’s projection of 50.9% to Clive Palmer is based on anything other than a guesstimate as to preferences. It’s still clearly the best thing available, but the 0.9% figure would be well within its margin of error. I’m guessing the AEC will conduct a preference throw in fairly short order that will put the issue beyond doubt one way or the other.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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193 thoughts on “Photo finishes: Fairfax

  1. Kevin Bonham

    Palmer currently needs a 71.26% share of preferences over the LNP, which is slightly higher than what Wilkie got over Labor in 2010. It will probably go up before the starting gun is fired. I think this one is interesting but I’m not as bullish for Palmer as Antony.


  2. ruawake

    Clive ahead by 300 votes with all the “money” booths counted in Buderim. I cannot see him losing form here.

  3. Kevin Bonham

    I have him losing most but not all of his current lead as there are some nasty PPVCs for him to come. As a rough back of envelope his opponent should still be in it.

  4. ruawake

    Clive now ahead by 2,985 votes, its over Kevin. I had an advantage talking to scrutineers.

  5. Kevin Bonham

    There are still three large and very nasty PPVC booths to come in which the LNP beat him 8812-4534 on primaries, which is a margin about 2000 votes greater than the electorate average for so many votes. He may well still be several hundred ahead after those which will be a strong position if so.

    Scrutineering info is no longer an advantage. This is about modelling now.

  6. Edi_Mahin

    I agree with Kevin, Palmer is going to lose quite a lot of his advantage with the PPVC booths. I am not modeling but just look at how much he lost those booths

  7. ruawake

    Nambour PPVC kills Ted dead. 😛

  8. DodgyDave

    Dr Kevin – what do you think is the maximum gap that Ted O’Brien could make up from postals etc?
    So far Palmer has got about 75.0% of the preference flow which should leave him about 1700 or so ahead before counting the rest.

  9. DodgyDave

    I think I may be able to answer my own question:
    in 2010 O’Brien gained a net benefit over his Labor opponent of:
    ABSENT: +269
    PRE_POLL: +492*
    POSTAL: +1,721
    PROVIS’L: -18
    Total: +2,464
    I assume the AEC PRE-POLL category is different from the PPVC centres which are shown separately in both 2010 & 2013.

    These figures are 2PP against a Labor opponent (who was probably running minimal advertising unlike Palmer) but I’m not sure how well organised Palmer would have been for encouraging postal votes. I can’t see the Greens or Labor would have been pushing hard to help him.

    If Palmer has about a 1600-1750 lead before the above, then O’Brien may not yet be dead but I suspect it will be very close.

  10. DodgyDave

    Oops it was actually Alex Somlyay not Ted O’Brien in 2010 which may have some effect.

  11. ruawake


    The ALP branch member got 787 votes. I would not assume what the branch members were doing. 😉

  12. DodgyDave


    Is that ALP postal votes?

    If so it’s down on last time (ALP got 1146 first preference postal votes) but perhaps roughly consistent with the fall in their first preference ordinary vote (about 1/3).

    The big question is how many did Palmer get? Has he picked up the Labor drop in postals and (presumably) pre-poll?

    The LNP have done quite well in Fairfax on non-ordinary votes in the last two elections.

  13. Kevin Bonham

    I like to look at the ground to be gained as 2PP rather than raw votes when comparing 2010 data. In 2010 the total gain for the Coalition in Fairfax from ordinary votes to final was 0.6% 2PP. So if that is repeated it’s enough to turn 50.6% 2PP for Clive into dead level. That 0.6 is about double the 2010 national average. But there are differences:

    1. Sitting Coalition member defending vs new Coalition candidate. Though I can’t find evidence that this one tends to matter much. (A new candidate may suffer equally in postals to on the day.)

    2. Growth of the PUP vote through the final days, meaning that out of electorate prepolls might be bad for Palmer.

    I’ll do detailed analysis when I get home but I’d say even 51:49 at the end of ordinaries is not so safe that one should call it done and dusted; I’d want to see some votes in various categories first. (David Barry has Clive modelled at 50.7 after all the ordinaries.)

    The Coalition only improved more than a point in three electorates in 2010 – one was Melbourne Ports (Jewish population not voting on the day) and the big two (massive outliers!) were Maranoa and Flynn.

  14. Kevin Bonham

    Ran out of energy for heavy crunching tonight, might do some tomorrow!

  15. ruawake

    [Is that ALP postal votes?]

    No the local branch member stood as an independent.

    One thing on pre-polls. It was Noosa show day on Friday, many people in Fairfax would have had a long weekend. So absentee may vary from the norm. (May not too).

  16. DodgyDave

    50.9/49.1 (1200-1400 votes) – right at the border of what you believe is reversible?

    My estimate is based on joining the polling place primary and 2PP figures, getting the average third party preference rate flow to PUP for the published polling places (74.7%) and applying it to the outstanding ones.

    Also Coolum Beach PPVC has been added overnight and the downloadable primary votes updated (there were small discrepancies yesterday between these and the 2PP because the primary download is only updated at the end of the day).

    C’mon Ted (normally I’d be rooting for the other side but Palmer is a shonky spiv too far IMHO)

  17. DodgyDave

    The first line of my previous comment got lost – it just said that my estimate at the end of ordinary votes is 50.0/49.1.

  18. DodgyDave

    I really this one could go down to the wire.

    According to the AEC download there have been 6232 postal votes received so far in Fairfax which is up on last time (5,089).
    In 2010 Somlyay did 11% better 2PP on postals than he did on ordinary votes (67.37% v 56.35%).
    If you assume that O’Brien does similarly this time on postal votes (ie 11% above ordinary votes) then he will get about 60% 2PP.
    That would translate to a roughly 1200 vote catch-up, not far short of my estimate that Palmer will have a 1200-1400 vote lead after ordinary votes.

    So O’Brien not far behind with absent and pre-poll to come.


  19. DodgyDave

    Interesting interview with Clive Palmer today at:


    After claiming victory in Fairfax yesterday today he says he expects to lose by a few hundred votes – apparently because of electoral corruption. UN election observers would consider our election unfair he says.

    The most interesting tidbit is his comment that if he doesn’t win in Fairfax, PUP senators would block Tony Abbott’s policies until there is electoral reform.

    Perhaps another good reason to hope that Clive loses?

  20. Kevin Bonham

    Unfortunately Clive’s idea of electoral reform probably involves making the system impractical and discriminatory while fixing nothing that needs fixing; certainly the impression I got from his interview today.

  21. DodgyDave

    It was more I was hoping that he blocks some of Abbot’s policies than hoping that Clive actually comes up with a sensible idea. Anybody who expects the latter will be disappointed IMHO.

  22. Kevin Bonham


    50.9/49.1 (1200-1400 votes) – right at the border of what you believe is reversible?

    I now believe even 51.5 could potentially be reversible in this seat.

  23. ltep

    Bit more counting and Palmer’s lead now down to 1053 votes, but still haven’t counted Nambour PPVC, which should be good for him.

  24. DodgyDave

    Finally an update in Fairfax – the Maroochydore FAIRFAX PPVC figures have been added and a first batch of PRE_POLL figures.

    Clive’s lead cut to 1,053 or 50.83%/49.17%.

    He actually didn’t do too bad at Maroochydore PPVC, getting 76.7% of preferences, above his average (was 74.7%).

    There is just one big ordinary polling station to come – Nambour PPVC which will be favourable to Palmer. My estimate of his 2PP share after ordinary votes has edged up to 51.0% after rounding.

    BUT Palmer did badly in the first small batch of PRE_POLL figures – only 712 votes but they went to O’Brien 53.65% to 46.35%.

    This one is going to depend on the postals.

  25. DodgyDave

    I should add that Palmer got only a 61.6% preference flow in that first batch of PRE_POLL votes.

    It’s only a single small sample but if it were to keep up over the declaration votes, he is gone.

  26. Kevin Bonham

    I have just modelled this off the 2010 results assuming 51.1 2PP after Nambour, all postal votes returned and a similar proportion of rejections on absents as so far and informals on so far. The “all postal votes returned” is probably too kind to the LNP but perhaps so is the assumption that their advantage over Palmer in post-count cf on the day will be no bigger than their advantage over ALP last time. Anyway this rather rubbery exercise projected Palmer losing by 70 votes; the +/- on that estimate being large. This is nowhere near over yet.

  27. DodgyDave

    “This is nowhere near over yet.” from #26.

    I agree completely.

    The lawyers will be salivating at the fees they’ll earn on this one.

  28. ruawake

    The fall in Family First votes have hurt O’Brien.

  29. DodgyDave

    Nambour PPVC included now.

    Palmer back out to a lead of 1,391 or 50.99/49.01%.

  30. DodgyDave

    ruawake re #28

    Agreed but I am even more surprised in the low ONP vote – they seem to have shifted to Palmer?

  31. DodgyDave

    Incidentally Nambour PPVC was average for Palmer in terms of flow of preferences – 74.75% (overall average is 74.67%).

    Now that tonight’s primary votes download is available, I can amend my calculation for Maroochydore PPVC. I think the preference flow was 76.0% rather than 76.7%.

    The first batch of PRE_POLLs at 61.5% preference flow is the interesting one though. Is it the start of a trend or a blip?

  32. ruawake

    [Agreed but I am even more surprised in the low ONP vote – they seem to have shifted to Palmer?]

    Not sure, they really are a spent force in Qld now. FF use to have volunteers handing out for them, none this time. Same with ON.

  33. Kevin Bonham

    Wow look at Clive go on the absent votes!

  34. DodgyDave

    Been out today, so only just looked in on this.

    Postals: O’Brien getting what he needs from first batch (63.19%)
    BUT …
    Absents: Wow!

    So cancelling each other out.

    That’s an extraordinary effort on absents from Palmer.
    ruawake – are you aware of any special factors or explanation?

  35. Kevin Bonham

    As William just pointed out re Barton we don’t know where those absents come from yet. They may be from somewhere that is naturally anti-Coalition and hence may not be representative.

  36. ltep

    William, do you have any reason to believe there’ll be enough votes in the BLV booth to damage Palmer by 1000 votes? The BLV polling places tend to be very low volume don’t they? Other electorates I’ve seen tend not to have huge numbers of votes in the BLV centres.

  37. Michal Klaus

    In view of the Wangaratta PPVC being investigated yesterday (Indi) and a 1000 vote error found, it appears there is a strong case for looking into the Coolum Beach PPVC – it returned only 37% TPP to PUP when the main Coolum Beach booth returned 61% (Primary vote to PUP was recorded as DOUBLE at the PPVC!), and other PPVC’s on the Sunshine Coast were roughly around 10% lower for PUP than their local booths. In addition, votes cast were apparently five (!!) times higher than the 2010 votes cast. I realise pre-polls were much higher elsewhere, even around double, but a five-fold increase seems absurd and unbelievable. At any rate, this booth could be one of the most extreme outliers anywhere in Australia.

  38. Michal Klaus

    *correction: Primary vote to LNP was recorded as DOUBLE at the PPVC

  39. Michal Klaus

    Total votes cast at Coolum Beach PPVC: Senate 3198 (LNP 39%), HR 3966 (LNP 56%). More than ever, I maintain that this cannot be correct, under any circumstances. The Senate vote should be approximately the same, based on the rest of Queensland for the LNP and the fact that PUP’s Senate vote was in fact lower than the HR vote. Under no circumstances could ballots submitted for the HR (including any informals) be that much higher.

  40. Michal Klaus

    In the HR 56% by the way

  41. Michal Klaus

    In the HR the LNP’s vote is 56% by the way…totally unbelievable based on the Senate vote

  42. SgtThursday

    While I think that the trend is pretty damning and points to something like a 1000-vote bundle being misplaced or mislabelled – I will offer one alternative.

    I had the “good fortune” to stay at the Palmer Coolum resort last year. If the staff there voted at Coolum Beach, I reckon there’s a better than even chance that they used their votes to give some anonymous feedback to the boss.

  43. SgtThursday

    That of course ignores all of the other evidence presented above, which is pretty compelling.

    (But, seriously… go, visit the resort. You’ll see what I’m getting at.)

  44. DodgyDave

    Michael Klaus – Great spot!

    Has anybody alerted the AEC?

  45. ltep

    Postals, unsurprisingly, not looking great for Palmer.

  46. Michal Klaus

    I couldn’t reach them by phone, so I emailed this:

    In looking at the count for this Division, I noticed that almost 800 more votes have been recorded for the House of Representatives than for the Senate, for the Coolum Beach PPVC.

    It further appears most likely that either all excess votes have been placed in the LNP column in error, or that there is a missing batch of votes wholly belonging in the PUP column.

    My reasoning is:
    – The House of Representatives vote for the LNP is around 19% higher than the Senate vote for the LNP at the Coolum Beach PPVC, while the House and Senate votes for the LNP are very similar (mostly within 1-2%) at all other polling places.
    – The other booths around Coolum Beach show a deviation from the PPVC result in the 20-25% range (approx.), while there is a 0-13% range (approx.) when comparing other PPVC with their local polling places.

  47. DodgyDave

    Re #45.
    Yes O’Brien closing the gap on postals and may have actually got there depending upon what happened with the rest of the Absent votes.
    BUT I think Michal is right.
    The LNP vote is probably overstated in Coolum Beach PPVC by about 800 which if corrected should see Palmer get home.

    Mind you if the current vote tallies are not corrected then expect the mother of all legal battles from Clive along with outraged claims of vote rigging, ballot stuffing etc.

  48. SgtThursday

    ltep@45: Unsurprisingly to all but Palmer himself who will no doubt be claiming corruption…

    (so maybe unsurprising for a different reason)

  49. Kevin Bonham

    Stunning stuff. First Indi now Fairfax. How many others?

    If this is really what has happened then this is sloppy. Vote counts from a booth should be tallied against votes issued from a booth prior to publication, and not published if there are large errors until the errors are accounted for. I thought this was standard procedure.

  50. DodgyDave

    A review of procedures definitely appears necessary.

    However I wouldn’t want to be too critical of the AEC and blow this up into something that undermines confidence in our electoral system. There are thousands of tallies being done around the country and the occasional error will occur (and which may be corrected before results are finalised).

    I can imagine that in high pressure counts like Fairfax & Indi it may be more likely to happen because of the number of staff and scrutineers present when the PPVC votes are being counted (24 AEC staff and over 80 scrutineers in Indi I believe) which gives greater opportunity for confusion and, hopefully temporary, errors.

  51. ruawake

    Peter Wellington’s wife (he is State Member for Nicklin) stated that the count in Fairfax was a disgrace, that ballot papers were all over the place.

    She has never seen anything like it scrutineering at past elections.

    I wonder if its a shock to the AEC staff that usually are forgotten about at 8.00PM on Sat night.

  52. Tom the first and best


    It may well end up in the Court of Disputed Returns. Especially if Palmer looses.

  53. SgtThursday

    Indeed – you hear plenty of demand for data to be uploaded and available as soon as humanly possible, which isn’t ultimately helpful.

    There is always a problem with releasing data early and then correcting it later – people often anchor on the first result and demand justification for the change.

    I would rather wait for good, quality-checked data than have early information that is wrong.

  54. Evan Parsons

    Palmer 1100 votes ahead – the AEC obviously hasn’t as yet corrected the error in the count highlighted above by William.

  55. Michal Klaus

    Evan, I am also still awaiting the AEC’s reply to my email.

  56. Michal Klaus

    The AEC has replied:
    The reason that more votes appear to have been recorded in the House of Representatives than for the Senate is because below-the-line voting for the Senate must be data-entered in entirety by AEC staff into a computer system in order for preferences to be correctly distributed. This is a time-consuming process and takes much longer than counting for the house of representatives as you might imagine when you consider that there are 8 house of Representatives candidates for the Division of Fairfax but 82 Senate candidates.

    This is not a case of votes being wrongly assigned or going missing.

    However, I believe questions should continue to be raised about it: I note that at other polling places, the total Senate votes cast for all do match up, and the way they are recorded (in the Unapportioned and Group Total lines) look the same. There is no explanation given why the count is apparently proceeding (and/or being recorded) differently at different polling places. The AEC’s reply also does nothing to address the extreme outlier status of the Coolum Beach PPVC, in fact if anything I would expect Below the Line votes to shrink the LNP’s Senate total further (as the proportion of the LNP’s Below the Line Vote is traditionally much lower than for some minor and micro parties), making the gap to the LNP’s House of Representative vote appear even more incredible.

  57. Michal Klaus

    SgtThursday, the AEC claims there is nothing to see here, which would indicate your suggestion comes into play. However, even so, quite a few people would have appeared to send a message to PUP in a rather strange manner, by switching their vote away from ALP or Greens (their votes are also below trend when comparing House of Representatives with Senate votes).

  58. SgtThursday

    Sounds to me like whoever replied on behalf of the AEC might not have fully understood the question.

    Anyway my “anonymous feedback” theory doesn’t hold a lot of water if the main Coolum booth is on-trend. Even less so if the apparent discrepancy is more pro-LNP than it is anti-PUP

  59. Michal Klaus

    That is what I’m inclined to think as well, SgtThursday. At the moment, we just cannot satisfactorily account for all indicators pointing in the same direction. I now await a further reply from the AEC.

  60. DodgyDave

    I think that is a disappointing response from the AEC.

    I’ve used the latest AEC downloads on House & Senate votes by polling place to compare the HoR & Senate counts for each polling place in Fairfax, Fisher & Flynn.

    The discrepancy in Coolum Beach PPVC sticks out like a sore thumb.

    For the AEC’s explanation to be correct, Coolum Beach PPVC would need to have had a below the line Senate vote of more than 19%. I don’t believe that – the general below the line proportion looks more like 2-4%.

    No other polling place in those 3 electorates, that has any Senate figures entered, currently has an excess of House over senate votes of more than 102 (at Coolum Beach PPVC it is 768).

    Admittedly the other Fairfax PPVCs do not yet have any Senate figures entered so perhaps PPVCs are different or the Coolum Beach one is incomplete. But in Fisher the Maroochydore PPVC has similar House & Senate figures (actually Senate exceeds House by 72).

    I think the AEC needs to take this more seriously.

    PS In comparing Senate & House votes by booth I was struck by how there are 2 booths in Flynn where Senate votes were much higher than House at Gracemere and Blackwater (opposite to Coolum Beach). The votes by party between Senate & House appeared consistent (unlike Coolum Beach PPVC or as occurred in Indi) so it appeared unlikely to be a data entry error. At first I couldn’t understand it. But if there were a large number of absentee votes at these booths (due to fly-in/fly-out workers at the coal mines there?) could this account for the difference? Their HoR votes would be sent off to be counted as absent votes elsewhere while their Senate votes are counted locally?

    I can’t see absent fly-in/fly-out mine workers accounting for the difference the other way at Coolum Beach PPVC in Fairfax though. Perhaps it may help account for some of the LNP’s poor showing in absent votes in coastal Queensland.

  61. Michal Klaus

    DodgyDave thank you for your additional valuable contribution, which further builds the case. I agree this should continue to be monitored and more detailed explanations sought from the AEC.

  62. Kevin Bonham

    Even if there is an explanation for the Senate/House discrepancy it still could be there’s an error of some other sort. Especially if the discrepancy is c. 1000, which is much more than the Senate/House gap predicts. A bundle of 500 Palmer votes with an O’Brien vote on top for instance is a sort of error I have seen happen sometimes.

  63. Andrew Bartlett

    Leaving the discrepancy to one side, if the current count of the various declaration votes stays to trend, it looks to me like the LNP could catch Palmer on postals & pre-polls, but would still fall short if the absentee vote continues to favour Palmer by the same amount (or even a smaller amount)

  64. SgtThursday

    I have to say I’m torn on whether or not to hope for Clive winning or losing.

    If he wins: we’ll hear endless tirades of barely comprehensible gibberish AND it’ll come with the bonus of parliamentary privilege.

    If he loses: we’ll hear endless tirades of barely comprehensible gibberish AND have a bunch of ridiculous lawsuits against the AEC to sit through.

    I wonder what is better in the long term (both for the Australian people in general, and for Clive’s more-or-less guaranteed stab at being PM in 2016/17).

  65. canberra boy

    The AEC answer Michal has passed on at #56 is not a credible explanation. They have either misunderstood the question/concern, or are being disingenuous. I’d say the former, as I start from the expectation and experience that they are honestly doing their best.

    The reason it is not credible may be confirmed by reference to the AEC fact sheet about vote counting. This makes it clear that on election night Senate first preferences, whether above- or below-the-line, are counted at the polling booth. First preferences are phoned through to the Divisional Office and put on the website. If necessary, counting of first preferences continues at the polling place on Sunday.

    Above-the-line votes are subsequently checked at the Divisional Office, while the below-the-line votes end up at a central state centre for data entry of preferences to allow the eventual computerised allocation of preferences.

    So the data entry argument the AEC has given Michal has nothing to do with an aberation in first preferences counted or reported. All first preferences should have been reported by Sunday, and only subject to later checking and modification.

    Michal did you raise this with the Divisional Office or someone at AEC in Canberra or Brisbane?

  66. Andrew Bartlett

    Sgt Thursday, I think I’d prefer the 2nd outcome. A court case against the AEC would very likely lead to an AEC win (unless the result had been so exceedingly close – which is plausible – that the Court could do a Mundingburra and order a re-poll/by-election). (As an aside, I thought the Mundingburra decision was a bit dubious, but Labor didn’t appeal it so iyt can’t have been too bad).

    Having an appeal to the court thrown out would help dispel some of the many myths and conspiracy theories that get thrown around about elections & the AEC. But it might also help by proposing ways the AEC could do their counting job better, along the lines of suggestions occasionally made on this blog.

  67. DodgyDave

    Andrew Bartlett at #63:

    That’s my reading too – O’Brien is doing well on postals and will probably do fairly well on pre-polls but Palmer is doing really well on absent votes and if that continues they will probably get him across the line.

    With just under half the absent votes counted, Palmer is getting 57.5% and O’Brien will only win (disregarding any discrepancy) if the remaining half of the absents at least break even (or favour him rather than Palmer).

    Palmer’s lead is down to 718 but that is with 2/3 of the postal and half of the absent votes counted.

  68. Michal Klaus

    canberra boy, I couldn’t find anything other than generic phone or email contacts, so I tried the Call Centre, and was given a direct phone number for the Fairfax AEC Office. I tried this number many times, but it always rang out. I then emailed the generic email address (making it obvious from the subject line which Division and issue it relates to). My first reply came from Election and External Communication Section, at Head Office (unclear whether input was sought from Fairfax). When I queried the reply further today, I was advised it has been forwarded directly to the Division of Fairfax for their comment. I am a little underwhelmed by this sequence of events.

  69. canberra boy

    OK – mea culpa – I clearly overlooked the fact that we are dealing with a PPVC rather than votes counted at a polling booth on Saturday night. But the principle holds: when the Senate votes are counted, the first preferences for both above- and below-the-line ballot papers are counted at the point of first scrutiny and reported publicly, and data entry of preferences occurs later.

  70. Graeme

    I can’t cavil with Michal’s concerns or William’s scatter plot of Senate v House votes. But is there mileage in comparing TCP counts, for PPVCs vs ordinary polling, by settlements? I’m a product of Nambour, if a small pineapple compared to Swan/Rudd/Elliot…

    There are four 4 big communities here worthy of having a PPVC. Maroochydore even has 2 PPVCs. Together these 4 communities equal have over 45 000 votes in the count.

    By TCP so far:
    Coolum PPVC LNP 57.78 Coolum Ord Booths LNP 41.89
    M’dore PPVCs LNP 55.83 M’dore Ord Booths LNP 43.53
    Nambour PPVC LNP 47.58 Nambour Ord Booths LNP 38.62
    Buderim PPVC LNP 48.05 Buderim Ord Booths LNP 56.36

    The LNP PPVC premium in Coolum – the subject of attention here – is 15.9%. That’s on a par with Maroochydore’s 12.3% They are closely contiguous coastal regions.

    Nambour is more a formalised town. There is still a sizeable LNP PPVC premium there, but less strong. Its politics are hardly left, but more Independent than Coalition focused thanks to Peter Wellington’s long reign as MLA – Labor voters there are used to voting strategically so Palmer doing better there is expected.

    Palmer doing less well at most PPVCs makes sense if his vote was a surge based in part on late advertising; and given there are clearly more protest votes on polling day than at pre-polls where committed voters seem to dominate (the informal vote is more than halved at these PPVCs).

    Conversely, Buderim is Coalition heaven: retirement town perched on a mountain. There is MUCH more old-fashioned, polling day polling (and a ratio of 7 ordinary booths to one PPVC).

    In case anyone wants to check my calculations, and to give an idea of the size of the sample, total votes per polling place type are:

    Coolum PPVC 3773 Coolum 3 Ord Booths 4533
    Nambour PPVC 7068 Nambour 3 Ord Booths 4617
    (Burnside included as a suburb of Nam)
    M’dore PPVCs (2) 9750 M’dore 4 Ord Booths 5450
    (Cotton Tree and Kuluin are suburbs of M’Dore)
    Buderim PPVC 3057 Buderim 7 Ord booths 8325

    As for other coastal communities without a PPVC, the LNP ranges from 42% (‘Pacific Paradise’, south of Coolum), through 46.4% (Mudjimba, just next to ‘Pacific Paradise’) up to 58.7% (Peregian Springs, just north of Coolum). Wealth measured by land values would be highest in Buderim and north of Coolum.

  71. Kevin Bonham

    Clive isn’t jumping up and down about this yet. Is it because he doesn’t know?

  72. Graeme

    Having made that long post, there is also room in those figures to wonder why Coolum PPVC hasn’t reported more House votes, ie why it doesn’t have a higher ratio of PPVC to ordinary polling.

    One explanation is a parcel of Clive’s votes are missing…

    The other is that the bigger and better known PPVCs (Nambour and Maroochydore) draw in more people. Coolum has less industry/retail and 9-5 jobs than Nambour or Maroochydore.

  73. DodgyDave

    Re #71

    I think Clive has too many imaginary problems with the vote count to worry about a possible real one.

  74. ruawake


    I handed out HTV at Coolum in pre-poll and on the day. There is no reason for any difference in the PPVC tally to the election day.

    Coolum has long been an ALP island in the LNP sea (check the last few Federal Elections) the figures do not pass a credibility test.

  75. DodgyDave

    Graeme’s posts are useful but don’t really explain the anomaly of the difference in House & Senate votes at Coolum PPVC.

    However we have mainly been assuming that the problem is an overstatement in the LNP HoR vote at Coolum – perhaps influenced by events in Indi.

    I still think that the most likely explanation but it is possible that the problem is actually an understatement in the LNP Senate vote at Coolum.

  76. DodgyDave

    re #74

    Actually looking at the 2010 results, on the day Coolum Beach is an ALP island but the PPVC was not.

    The LNP share at the two normal Coolum Beach booths was only 44.85% & 44.77% BUT at the Coolum Beach PPVC it was 56.02%, over 11% better.

  77. Graeme

    Apologies! Transcription error: working on a train… The first table in post 70 SHOULD be:

    By TCP so far:
    Coolum PPVC LNP 62.23 Coolum Ord Booths LNP 41.89
    M’dore PPVCs LNP 55.83 M’dore Ord Booths LNP 43.53
    Nambour PPVC LNP 47.58 Nambour Ord Booths LNP 38.62
    Buderim PPVC LNP 48.05 Buderim Ord Booths LNP 56.36

    The LNP PPVC premium in Coolum – the subject of attention here – is 20.3%. That’s a a deal bigger than Maroochydore’s 12.3%. Which is bigger again than Nambour’s which is of course much bigger than Buderim’s negative premium…

  78. Graeme

    Yes, indeed RuAwake and DodgyDave. I’m no insider so the anomalies you point out are beyond me too. Talking anomalies, why is there no count for the Senate in Fairfax’s biggest booth – the number 1 Maroochydore PPVC?

    DodgyDave’s point was on my mind. Let’s look at LNP Senate primaries across the types of booths in the comparable settlements, and the raw ‘premium’ over PUP Senate primary, and House primary:

    Coolum PPVC LNP37.1% +19.3 (House +37.2)
    Coolum LNP28.2% +9.7 (House -2.1)
    Coolum North LNP30.3% +10.2% (House +2.3)
    Mt Coolum LNP34.3% + 17.1 (House +4.5)

    M’Dore PPVC No Senate Count?! (House +25.9)
    M’Dore Nth PPVC LNP47.6% +33.6 (House +25)
    M’Dore LNP33.9% +12 (House -1.5)
    M’Dore East LNP34.6% +15.9 (House +4.7)
    Kuluin LNP34.7% +12.9 (House -4.4)
    Cotton Tree LNP43.9% +29.6 (House + 20.4)

    Overall in the electorate, Katter outperformed his Senate group by a bit under 8.8% (26.9 to 18.1)
    As a consequence, overall in the electorate, on primaries, the LNP House premium was 14.4 but its Senate premium 21.2.

    * as Michal points out the House premium to LNP in that Coolum PPVC looks odd.
    * but the numbers are equally consistent with DodgyDave’s intuition that the LNP is missing Senate votes from Coolum PPVC. In the M’Dore PPVC we have, the LNP Senate vote and premium is much higher. So too in Cotton Tree, which is where the fancy apts are in Maroochydore.

    Again, happy if someone checks/corrects these numbers. Was relying on pen, calculator and laptop on a long journey.

  79. Graeme

    Freudian slip! ‘… Palmer outpeformed his Senate group by a bit under 8.8%…’ not ‘Katter’!

  80. Evan Parsons

    If Ted O’Brien pulls this one out, you can bet that Palmer will take it to the Court of Disputed Returns(he has got enough money to sue the entire AEC if he wanted to), and in the light of the comments in this thread, Clive has a good case to argue that the vote counting in Fairfax has been slightly dodgy.

  81. Kevin Bonham

    On my latest projections there is basically nothing in this unless the Coolum thing is resolved in Palmer’s favour.

  82. Martin B

    Just projecting the outstanding declaration votes received to follow the current trends I make out Palmer falling short by 22 (which is obviously within the error for such s projection).

    So yes this looks down to the wire…

  83. Kevin Bonham

    Yes I have similar: -5 in one projection and -47 in the other.

    There is an automatic recount for <100 and I think it will be good to see this seat fully recounted.

  84. DodgyDave

    According to a report in The Australian, the missing 768 votes from Coolum PPVC turned up at “a Buderim booth”.

    The report doesn’t make clear whether these are missing LNP Senate votes that turned up at Buderim (note we don’t have Buderim PPVC senate figures from the AEC) or PUP votes from Coolum that turned up at Buderim or some other alternative.

    The AEC site is stilling showing figures for Coolum Beach PPVC with a big discrepancy between House & senate. It doesn’t seem to have yet fixed the anomaly spotted here last week.

    Anyway Clive is now aware of it and has let slip the dogs of law. Oh to be an electoral lawyer in Queensland – think of the fees to come for the next few years.

  85. Michal Klaus

    It’s good that finally it has made it into the main stream and the AEC was compelled to look into it. However, it’s not good that because of how the count was published (or not) by the AEC to date, there was no real opportunity to put forward this potential explanation, nor to test it.

  86. SgtThursday

    Bless his little (!) cotton socks.

    We in WA are looking forward to our fresh election as well, due to the early release of incorrect 2PP information. Goodness knows how many of use were hanging out to vote at the last minute, awaiting confirmation of the impending PUP landslide.

  87. Kevin Bonham

    Would be nice to know what the Buderim PPVC Senate figures actually are so we can see how well they tally with the Reps figures at that booth.

    However if the discrepancy really only concerns Senate votes being in the wrong place then I’m not sure what leg Palmer would have to stand on.

  88. TheSpeaker

    Does this AEC finding the votes in Buderim story actually check out? All the other booths except Coolum look legit.

  89. Michal Klaus

    TheSpeaker: Well, it doesn’t yet actually check out at this stage – The LNP’s House of Representatives vote at other Coolum Beach booths is 26.8% and 30.54%, while at the Coolum Beach PPVC the LNP’s vote shoots up to double that, 55.87%. This remains totally out of sync with the behaviour of other PPVC’s, which show a very much smaller premium to the LNP’s vote.

  90. DodgyDave

    As William notes, the AEC has now put out a statement regarding this.

    They have also switched the Coolum Beach PPVC & Buderim PPVC vote counts on VTR – that is the entire count for each so that now Buderim PPVC has the 3,773 votes & 62.23% LNP 2PP that were recorded against Coolum Beach PPVC (which has the 3,097 votes & 48.05% LNP share that were previously recorded as Buderim PPVC).

    So according to the VTR it is not 768 votes that were switched but the entire votes for Coolum Beach & Buderim.

    We can’t check whether this alignment makes more sense versus Senate votes because we don’t have the Senate figures for Buderim PPVC.

    However compared to the 2010 figures it does make more sense – in 2010 Buderim PPVC was much better for the LNP than Coolum Beach PPVC: 65.02% v 56.02%. I think the alignment with surrounding normal booths is now better too.

    The odd thing though is that in 2010 there were only 798 formal votes at Coolum Beach PPVC (now showing 3,097) while Buderim has gone from 2,107 in 2010 to 3,773 (in the latest version).
    But one of the locals might be able to shed some light on this – different location? different opening times? affected by Noosa Show? Just one of those things? In any case Clive shouldn’t complain about Coolum Beach PPVC being bigger than expected – he actually won there on 2pp (as now recorded).

  91. Graeme

    It also makes sense compared to the rest of the 2013 votes. See the figures I extracted in post 70.

    Now the LNP Buderim TCP for pre-polls is higher than for polling day voting, as elsewhere and as expected. And Buderim is, given its retiree demographic and higher status, the naturally most conservative of the sub-regions.

  92. Graeme

    Dave, isn’t it the case that pre-polling is ballooning everywhere? But I’d expect the growth to be less marked in older or more traditional cohorts of voters.

  93. DodgyDave

    I thought the latest figures might be more consistent with your comparisons with adjoining normal booths.

    And yes the PPV votes are up a lot everywhere in Fairfax. Coolum Beach has the biggest increase as a percentage (+288%) but they have increase markedly elsewhere. Buderim is showing +79% (but Graeme suggests demographic reasons for a lower increase). Maroochydore Fairfax PPVC has increased from 3,489 to 7,895 (+126%) & there is a new PPVC at Maroochydore North which also has 1,895 (none last time). Nambour PPVC went from 3,782 to 7,068 (+87%).

    So the revised figures for Coolum Beach PPVC show the largest percentage increase in votes from 2010 but all others have increased a lot, some by more in absolute numbers (rather than proportions).

    So I guess in the absence of Senate figures for the other PPVCs, there is no reason not to accept the latest published AEC figures.

  94. DodgyDave


    Actually looking back at your posts, #77 IMHO was the best pointer to the solution – well done.

    The original and revised premiums from normal booths to PPVC are:
    Coolum: was +20.3% now +6.2%
    M’dore: was +12.3% still +12.3%
    Nambour: was +9.0% still +9.0%
    Buderim: was -8.3% now +5.9%

    So down from a 28.6% spread to 6.4% – looks a lot better.

  95. Graeme

    One wonders with such a high rate of early voting if Palmer is now wishing his advertising onslaught had kicked in earlier. Or if almost all early voters are staunch.

  96. Graeme

    So DodgyDave, from what you say it was nothing more dodgy than a transposition in data entry for the virtual tally room?

  97. Edi_Mahin

    So much for Clive Palmer’s idea on QandA that it was an AEC conspiracy with something to do with former miltary people being wrongly involved.
    The real question though is are we going to see more of Clive Palmer’s imaginary conspiracies being put forward under parliamentary privilege?

  98. Kevin Bonham

    On my projection now, Palmer is not only probably losing but may not even make the automatic recount threshhold. He’s currently +122 but I’m projecting that to -131.

  99. Michal Klaus

    Now that it looks like PUP loses, does anyone know if this is a Federal Election record “come from behind” victory to the LNP after it had 48.96% of ordinary votes on election day?

  100. DodgyDave

    Re #97
    Graeme that is what it looks like BUT
    1. It is not the explanation the AEC gave Michal last week.
    2. That is not the explanation given by the AEC in their statement on Monday night
    3. They say in their statement that they picked up an error on Friday. Yet they did not correct the VTR figures until Monday night nor make any disclosure to anybody that an error had been found until Palmer’s loopy attempt at a Federal Court injunction.
    4. If the other PPVC Senate figures had been available (still not) then the true nature of the problem might have been realised earlier.

    I can understand that a simple transcription error can easily occur but the AEC might want to look at the quality of its responses to such situations.

    PS I agree with Kevin’s most likely outcome.

  101. Rod Hagen

    Certainly looks as if Clive’s goose is cooked, barring court intervention. If he happened to get up on calls for a new election, I reckon he may know a bit more about the importance of getting in the postals and pre-polls next time around!

  102. DodgyDave

    oh dear!
    The almost final postal votes were nowhere near as favourable to the LNP as the rest and Clive may yet hold on.
    Now looks likely to be a recount either way.

  103. Andrew Bartlett

    Palmer now only 64 votes ahead as at 5pm. Only 119 postals left to count (although theoretically there culd be another 1000 or so out there that haven’t been received yet).

    Absentees are going about 57%-43% to Clive, while prepolls are roughly the reverse (about .5% better for the LNP). There are 128 more prepolls left than there are absentees (plus another 60 prepolls issued which havent been received yet).

    Looks to me like it will come in within the 100 vote margin, unless a decent slab of the extra 1000+ postals come in.

    As I mentioned earlier, I hope Clive does mount a legal challenge against the result as it will provide a chance for the High Court to dismiss some of the groundless conspriacies that are occasionally thrown around about the AEC and the electoral system.

  104. Rod Hagen

    Mmm. Looking again, he may well end up in the “auto recount” zone. Say Libs are +200 on the Postals & EVPPs while Clive is +100 on the absentees. Leaves Clive only 40 behind.

    Wonder how many of the provisionals will end up getting counted? Certainly might push it one way or the other if many get the nod.

  105. Rod Hagen

    Andrew writes I hope Clive does mount a legal challenge against the result as it will provide a chance for the High Court to dismiss some of the groundless conspriacies that are occasionally thrown around about the AEC and the electoral system.

    I’m afraid Andrew I reckon those who believe such conspiracies will simply say “the Court’s in on it too” and go on believing whatever bizarre conspiracy theories they do now. 🙁

  106. ltep

    My extremely rough projection had Palmer by 11, but really there’s so many assumptions built into that the only thing it tells me is that it’ll be extremely close.

  107. Outsider

    Here’s what I posted on the main thread.

    It’s based on the position reported by the AEC at 3.35pm

    Palmer leads at present by 64

    Left to count are:

    Absent 708
    Prepoll 908
    Postal 119

    Based on counting to date, these split between O’Brien and Palmer, respectively, as follows:

    Absent 43/57
    Prepoll 57.5/42.5
    Postal 61.1/38.9

    Applying this split to the outstanding votes left to count, Palmer’s lead is reduced by 51, leaving him 13 ahead.

    Some variables ahead.

    First, there are 1124 postal votes issued but not yet returned. The number coming in now would be a trickle. A return of 60 of these votes, based on the current split, would give O’Brien the extra 13 votes to wipe out Palmer’s lead ie, back to zero.

    The other variable is the 692 provisional votes that have not yet been processed. To date, 206 have been processed. All have been rejected.

    There is little data to go on with the fate of those provisional votes. It appears that the only ones to be processed are all rejected. In 2010, 120 such votes were counted in Fairfax, and favored the ALP 57.5/42.5, in the context of an overall 2pp result favoring the LNP 57/43.

    These provisional votes could get Palmer over the line. He would expect a higher proportion to flow his way than ALP had in 2010, bearing in mind that 2013 is essentially a 50/50 2pp outcome. If 120 votes get counted, and say they split 65/35 to Palmer, this would deliver a final outcome of a 30-35 vote win to Palmer.

    Its that close….

    Or else a higher than expected return of outstanding postals could get O’Brien over the line, but with only a handful of votes the difference.

    Or maybe none of the provisionals get counted!!

    My overall prediction: Palmer to win by 20.

  108. Outsider

    And I would love to see a probability analysis of different potential,outcomes from Mr Bonham. Including that of a tie with a toss of the coin deciding the outcome. I suspect from here, this could take months to sort out.

  109. Kevin Bonham

    Palmer has indeed recovered on the most recent postals and my current projection has him winning by 3 assuming the receipt of all outstanding prepolls and no further postals. So the probabilities are as close to 50:50 as you like them now.

  110. Kevin Bonham

    I don’t believe there is a random draw for ties for first in a federal election. Think it’s a null result and a by-election. At least that’s my reading of the Act.

  111. Kevin Bonham

    Michal Klaus@100

    Now that it looks like PUP loses, does anyone know if this is a Federal Election record “come from behind” victory to the LNP after it had 48.96% of ordinary votes on election day?

    If PUP does lose (now uncertain) I’d be surprised if it was a record. There were cases of larger ordinary-to-final differences even in 2010, but they did not decide seats. I would expect to find many larger differences prior to 2010 as in that year within-electorate prepolls were first counted as ordinaries.

  112. Outsider

    What is unusual in this election is the 12% gap between his ordinary vote (51%) and his postal voting result (39%). With no analysis on my part, this does seem a most extraordinary difference.

    Putting any partisanship to one side, there seems to be something inherently wrong in the way the postal voting system operates in the modern era. Personally, I think it should basically be banned, with some limited exceptions for overseas voters and the infirm (supported by a medical certificate). With the growth in postal voting, the potential for abuse is significant.

    But maybe all that needs to be banned is the role of the political parties in harvesting postal votes. If someone wants a postal vote, they must in future apply direct to the AEC. Otherwise, PPVCs or fronting up on the day should be the only alternatives.

  113. Outsider

    What is unusual in this election is the 12% gap between his ordinary vote (51%) and his postal voting result (39%). With no analysis on my part, this does seem a most extraordinary difference.

    Putting any partisanship to one side, there seems to be something inherently wrong in the way the postal voting system operates in the modern era. Personally, I think it should basically be banned, with some limited exceptions for overseas voters and the infirm (supported by a medical certificate). With the growth in postal voting, the potential for abuse is significant.

    But maybe all that needs to be banned is the role of the political parties in harvesting postal votes. If someone wants a postal vote, they must in future apply direct to the AEC. Otherwise, PPVCs or fronting up on the day should be the only alternatives.

  114. Kevin Bonham


    What is unusual in this election is the 12% gap between his ordinary vote (51%) and his postal voting result (39%). With no analysis on my part, this does seem a most extraordinary difference.

    This gap is consistently high in some Queensland seats, eg:

    Fairfax 11% in 2010, 12% now
    Flynn 16% in 2010, 15% now
    Maranoa 13% in 2010, 10% now

    Conservatives tend to get this sort of gap naturally to some degree but certain kinds of seats may be geographically more prone to it.

  115. Graeme

    1. Qld Fed Court judges would hear this case, not High Court. Neither, as Andrew says, are fools.
    2. AEC media runs out of Canberra, on a relative shoestring, not Fairfax. Personally, the presumption of perfect communication, infinitely downloadable files for amateur psephologists, given the physical complexity of our voting systems and variety of voting avenues, is beyond me. People are supremely impatient – count the votes, as the 2000 Yanks said.
    3. Ban postal voting? Why; at least why, whilst early voting is now a right not a privilege?
    The 10 day postal vote rule – which people I know overseas still value, as early 20th century as it sounds – is actually a nice fillip for the ‘Patientez SVP’ slogan. Short of moving to instantaneous electronic results, what’s wrong with a methodical count? The arrogance of Mr Palmer’s injunction attempt yesterday was the way it said ‘stuff you’ to all the absentee and postal votes yet to be heard.

  116. Outsider

    I guess I didn’t explain my gripe with the postal voting system very well, and it is to do with the fact that we live in the 21st century, and it does seem a little odd that we have so many delays in deciding close seats. Internet voting is a substantial part of the answer, especially for those voting overseas. But 12,000 postals? The real gripe is the way the political parties have taken control of the postal vote process. For the elderly it is confusing, to say the least.

    A far better solution is that only the AEC should be involved in issuing postal votes, perhaps backed by an AEC letter drop in each electorate once writs are issued, including a postal vote application vote form and a detailed (non political) explanation of the process.

  117. Edi_Mahin

    At this stage there are 780 absent, 885 pre-poll, 141 postal to be counted. Based on the current percentages I get Palmer winning by 10 votes. I think 45 more postal votes would get it back to a tie.

  118. Benji

    Addition of 474 pre-polls favoured LNP by margin of 80 votes. Palmer now behind by 16 votes. This is a 58.4% of this bundle slightly higher than the previous percentage of pre-polls.

  119. Kevin Bonham

    Palmer still has quite a few absents to come so now he is the one who has to come from behind and should – my projection now has O’Brien by two assuming no more postals.

    The big question here is those remaining absents – where are they from and will they behave representatively? (And why haven’t they thrown them already?)

  120. Andrew Bartlett

    Gee it doesn’t get much closer than this one. Clive behind now but every chance of regaining lead on Absentee votes.

    It might even come down to the randoms of Provisional – I see in Indi (which might be somewhat comparable of an ‘independent’ taking on a safe Liberal seat) they ended up accepting/counting 206 out of 1052 envelopes received. But they ended up splitting almost 50-50, so that might not be a game breaker in Fairfax either (unless the margin is under 5, which is possible – although that could be getting close to re-ballot territoty)

  121. ltep

    Absents actually went against Palmer, so it’s looking (to me) highly unlikely he can win from here. My rough projection is a deficit of 170 votes.

  122. SgtThursday

    I seem to remember one seat a few years back where the final margin was (if I’m remembering correctly) seven votes. It might have been McEwen but I could be wrong. I don’t know if that is the record for closest margin.

    This looks like it could challenge that one.

    Which to me begs the question… if there was some kind of conspiracy to tamper with votes to knock Palmer out (and even to make it look close) – why the hell wouldn’t they do a better job of it? Why let it come down to a handful of votes?

  123. Andrew Bartlett

    So much for that prediction – 413 extra Abesentee votes processed, but unlike previous ones these have favoured the Lib and sees Clive go further behind. Maybe there is a conspiracy after all! (or maybe this pile of Absentees came from a different area to all the rest, but that’s would be way too boring)

    Cllive now 100 behind and starting to run out of ballots to claw all that way back.

  124. ltep

    There was a 1 vote win at one of the earlier elections, so not a record.

  125. Kevin Bonham

    There was some funny stuff going on with a lead of 100 to O’Brien briefly showing but replaced with a lead of 3 to Palmer without the outstanding dec vote totals changing. Probably a clerical error. My projection now has O’Brien by 38. 904 left to throw excluding provisionals and any not-yet-received postals.

  126. dovif

    What if
    you are on holiday in the Hunters
    Working in the city and can only vote on Lunch time
    What if you were visiting relative in another part of the city
    What if you went to the wrong booth in another electorate.
    What if you live 20km from a polling place

    Voting should be easy and should not make you go out of your way to vote

  127. dovif

    I am wondering whether Abbott is privately hoping for a Palmer win. I also wonder if Palmer wins how many parliamentary session will he miss

  128. Kevin Bonham

    Regarding McEwen in 2007:

    * Initially a win to Labor by 6 votes.
    * Recounted; win to Liberals by 12.
    * Court challenge; eventually a win to Liberals by 31.

    The case of Ballarat being decided by one vote in 1920 was declared void following court challenge.

  129. SgtThursday

    Thanks Kevin,

    I knew someone around here would have a better memory of that event.

  130. Andrew Bartlett

    Huh – it’s hard enough to follow without the tally changing like that!

    Getting close enough for a dead heat.

    A few more postals trickling in might decide it for the Libs.

  131. SgtThursday

    Does anyone here have experience on what evidence might be required to present to the court of disputed returns (or whichever court ultimately has jurisdiction), and whether there have ever been successful challenges that came down to proven vote tampering?

    I’m thinking Clive might need something a bit stronger than “go to Google*”.

    * Memorable quote from:


  132. Outsider

    Dovif. Fair points all. My main gripe is the involvement of the political parties in the postal voting process. It’s not necessary. Given the clear rules around non politicization of the voting process at ordinary polling stations, I cannot fathom why political party influence is permitted in the postal voting process.

  133. Outsider

    The Fairfax poll will almost certainly be decided by the courts. Palmer would win a fresh election, simply because he has the enormous personal wealth to bankroll his campaign eg, this time, to focus on postals, which are the only reason why the liberals have done so well to date. Also i sense a much lower turnout in a re-poll would also favor Clive, but there’s no real basis for that sense. What it does come down to is his unlimited capacity to fund a campaign which is a unique factor compared to the position of other independents. He has spent a lot of his own money on Election 2013 to get as far as he has. I can’t see why an extra million or two would make much difference to him now.

  134. Outsider

    And I realize the inconsistency in my last two posts about the role of postal voting, but thems the rules!

  135. ltep

    Outsider, for what reason would the court order a fresh election in this occasion when they didn’t in McEwen for instance. Are you basing it on the photocopied ballot papers?

  136. Outsider

    Ltep. In my confused state, given all this excitement (!!!) I was conflating 2 separate issues. Yes, the first is the ballot paper issue, which would lead to a fresh election (regardless of who wins), IF it can be proved. I was also, separately, thinking about the 2007 McEwen position, where effectively a recount of the recount was done by the court, resulting in the final margin as referred to by Dr Bonham earlier in this thread.

  137. Outsider

    Incidentally, photocopied papers are fine under the electoral act. The issue is whether they were correctly initialed.

  138. SgtThursday

    I bet they’re only fine if they were photocopied BEFORE being filled in.

  139. Outsider

    I think that goes without saying SgtT!

  140. Graeme

    A journo told me Mr Palmer said he would challenge the result EVEN if he won. Can anyone confirm?

    Surely we all want him to win, so we can see Palmer v Palmer. (The first election petition to be confused for a family court case).

    Being unprecedented, the Act doesn’t seem to prevent it.
    The AEC might have it chucked out for abuse of process; or if he didn’t allege errors against his majority, for failure to disclose a cause of action.

    Of course Clive can always save money and resign the seat to re-contest a by-election.

    Lewis Carroll reporting…

  141. Outsider

    Without going into the actual events that have taken place in the course of the 2013 Fairfax election, the Federal Court’s 2008 decision in Mitchell v Bailey (following the 2007 election for McEwen) illustrates the range of potential issues that a court may consider where an election outcome is very close. All indications available point to Fairfax being a very close outcome, potentially only a handful of votes either way.

    The McEwen case can be seen here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2008/692.html

  142. Outsider

    And the 1920 Ballarat Election appeal is a cracker, though the Electoral Act has changed significantly since. The AEC has come a Long way since.

    Read it here| http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1920/35.html

    I wonder what Clive is going to unearth? But there does seem to be fertile ground for court intervention where a result is especially close.

    As far as I know, this is the only Commonwealth case where an election result has been declared void in the basis of flaws in the election process (jacky Kelly’s first win in Lindsay was overturned because she was in eligible to be a candidate, but she won the subsequent by election comfortably. Something similar happened with one of the One Nation senators and I’m sure there have been other instances)

  143. Andrew Bartlett

    There is also the Qld instance of the result in the seat of Mundingburra being voided by the Court and a by-election ordered. The original margin of victory was 16 votes.

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/qld/QSC/1995/298.html if you’re interested

  144. Kevin Bonham

    Robert Wood of the NDP was another to be rubbed out as Senator after being found ineligible.

    A useful contrast with McEwen was Mundingburra 1995 in the Queensland parliament. Mundingburra was won by Labor by 16 votes but among the issues raised in a challenge was that 22 votes had not been processed because of the late arrival of a plane from Rwanda. In the McEwen case there was no evidence of wrongdoing or unjustified barring of voters or voters unfairly unable to vote, so it came down to rulings on the formality or not of specific votes.

  145. Edi_Mahin

    Palmer will lose unless one of the Absent, Postal or Pre poll groups of votes is much better for him than they have been currently or whatever provisional votes are counted favor him considerably.
    So off to court will will go and Palmer will make lots of allegations. Whether one of them will stand up is what we will have to see.
    If there is another election in Fairfax then Palmer will throw massive money at it. I wonder if he might spend too much money and leave the residents of Fairfax feeling like they have been carpet bombed with nuclear weapons and therefore totally sick and tired of him.

  146. Michal Klaus

    Has anyone else noticed that some Buderim PPVC Senate figures have finally been posted, but they look exceedingly strange. Only 94 votes in total, and only 23% to the LNP. Why would the AEC publish such a small batch?

  147. Michal Klaus

    Maybe they are all the Below the Line votes? (given that the Green vote is far higher than the LNP vote, and Green voters vote below the line at a much much higher rate)

  148. Outsider

    Kevin and Andrew. Thanks both. We can see where Palmer will be heading in the event of a handful of votes determining the outcome. Though the Queensland legislation seems to provide the court with broader powers than the equivalentbCommonwealthbElectoral Act. But that’s only from a very quick and unalytical read!

  149. ltep

    Palmer now 96 votes ahead off the back of a very good split in accepted provisional votes.

  150. Evan Parsons

    Stephen Spencer on Twitter says that Palmer will win by 60, if current trends hold.
    We are headed for a recount whoever wins, I guess – either one initiated by the LNP, or one initiated by Palmer.

  151. Matthew Stapleton

    @Gdfollow on Twitter says they have alowed 450 Provisionals … The first 201 went PUP’s way 147 to 54

    It might be the LNP who find themselves running off to court.

  152. ruawake

    337 votes left to count in Fairfax according to local radio. If true Clive ends in front in this count.

  153. ltep

    If it’s really 337 votes left to count, it’d have to be an extraordinarily good batch of votes for O’Brien for him to win by the skin of his teeth.

  154. Kevin Bonham

    Local radio might be confusing the remaining Absent votes with the total. Unless the current dec vote totals remaining are wrong. There seem to still be 911 votes to throw according to the AEC.

    Oh and most of the remaining provisionals got rejected so whoever said they allowed 450 provisionals was misreading it too.

    My projection now has Clive by 46 but still no sure thing. That amazing split on provisionals was huge for him, though it’s a bit less amazing when you look at the LNP’s dud performance on provisionals statewide in 2010.

  155. Matthew Stapleton

    In regard to the provisionals, can some tell me the difference between:

    Ballot papers disallowed 233


    Envelopes rejected at preliminary scrutiny 445

  156. Julian T

    Ballot papers disallowed relate to electors who claimed to be enrolled at an address in Fairfax, but were found to be enrolled in another Queensland division. Their Senate votes are counted, but their Reps votes are “disallowed” (because they were cast for the incorrect division).

    Disallowed votes will also be a significant discount from the remaining pre-poll and absent votes, as there are none recorded yet. This possibly means that Mr O’Brien has already reached a bridge too far.

  157. Kevin Bonham

    Julian T@158

    Ballot papers disallowed relate to electors who claimed to be enrolled at an address in Fairfax, but were found to be enrolled in another Queensland division. Their Senate votes are counted, but their Reps votes are “disallowed” (because they were cast for the incorrect division).

    Disallowed votes will also be a significant discount from the remaining pre-poll and absent votes, as there are none recorded yet. This possibly means that Mr O’Brien has already reached a bridge too far.

    I looked at those seats that have been declared and all of them have no disallowed EVPPs in the final declaration vote screen. However some have substantial numbers of disallowed absents while others have zero. Odd.

  158. Julian T

    Dr Bonham

    The threshold for the declaration of a poll is that the outstanding votes could not alter the outcome. No division yet has final figures, as there is still a day to go for postal votes to be received. However, I’m quietly confident that seats that have been declared would comfortably comply with the test in the first sentence, as the AEC are nothing if not prudent.

    For most divisions, the recording of disallowed votes is simply a final accounting measure.

    Every division will end up with disallowed absent, provisional and pre-poll votes. (I think they will have disallowed postal votes as well, but my knowledge of issuing procedures is slightly outdated, so I am not sure of this.) (Most absent, pre-poll and provisional votes are issued on the basis of an elector’s claim…the limited introduction of netbook computers will certainly have ameliorated this problem, and the scheme has the potential to virtually eliminate it.)

  159. Kevin Bonham

    OK + thanks very much Julian! I did notice the declared seats generally still had small numbers of unthrown votes but what I didn’t notice is that every time there is a zero given for rejected votes, there are still envelopes listed as awaiting processing in that category.

    So that would explain why there are reports that there are really only a few hundred left to throw in which case it is indeed extremely likely to be over, but for the recount.

    I have added a detailed note on Palmer’s performance on provisional votes today to my coverage at http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/2013-federal-election-late-counting.html . It is off the scale. He outdid his ordinary 2PP vote by over five points greater than the highest gap recorded by any candidate in any seat in 2010. Probably had I had a detailed look at 2010 provisionals I would have been expecting something like 60:40 or slightly better but nothing like 73:27.

  160. Kevin Bonham

    This is useful: why there are still uncounted votes – some votes are held back to the final day to maintain the anonymity of the votes in the last trickle of postals.


  161. ltep

    Very interesting Kevin. Will have to remember that for next time.

  162. triton

    I presume that the way a person’s anonymity would be breached would be by those opening envelopes and any scrutineers present, who could see the sender’s name and address. I guess this also means there are strict procedures for removing ballot papers from envelopes so they are not viewed by handlers. But what if a ballot paper is incorrectly folded so the numbers are in full view when removed?

  163. dovif

    My view on what will happen

    Palmer will win

    He will object to himself winning

    The court will order fresh election

    The electorate will be upset that they have to vote again

    Some donkey from the LNP will win the seat

  164. Kevin Bonham

    Palmer up by 111 after all absents thrown. 235 of them were binned.

    Now O’Brien is still in contention if the rejection rate of EVPPs is much lower than for absents, but I don’t know what that rate will be. Might see if I can dig some figures up from 2010. Even if all votes in theory on the table are thrown I would still project him losing by 18, but Palmer would want to win by more than that to feel safe on the recount.

  165. Andrew Bartlett

    Clive out to 111 in front based on what seems to 109 more Absents counted going 61-48 to him, which is a vote or 2 below the trend for Absents.

    It seems that another 11 postals have come in, but not yet been counted. As per the link from Dr Kevin B, perhaps they’re waiting to do all the remaining declaration votes together to maintain anonymity – which means possibly waiting until tomorrow.

    Clive still the favourite, but should be by under 100 either way so a recount would occur regardless.

  166. triton

    Does “binned” include informal votes, or were those votes ruled invalid for other reasons?

  167. Kevin Bonham


    Does “binned” include informal votes, or were those votes ruled invalid for other reasons?

    Other reasons. Not informal but not even allowed in the door. See #158.

  168. Geoff Lambert

    The Declaration Vote Scrutiny Progress page has disappeared.

    Must be a reason for that.

  169. Edi_Mahin

    And it has reappeared, whatever the reason.

    Clive Palmer has won.

    It is now up to the recount and the courts to decide matters. Lots of fun if Palmer keeps going off like he has been.

  170. triton

    Palmer’s lead cut to 45 votes with 415 to count.

  171. Kevin Bonham

    What a thriller this is! O’Brien must have got something like 70:30 off those absents so far. I believe there are not really 415 to count as some of those absents are rejected. My latest projection of what is left to count has O’Brien “winning” by 10, but whatever it is, you can’t project a recount!

  172. David Barry

    @GdFollow on Twitter says 301 votes to count, which would mean 114 ballot papers disallowed. If those were all EVPP’s, then that would be about 2% of the EVPP total, which seems consistent with Banks (2.7%) and Bass (0.9%).

    I’ve got O’Brien winning this by 13 votes, but a poll-style “margin of error” is around 17 votes.

  173. Kevin Bonham

    Oh dear. Clive did pretty well on postals to only drop another 23. I don’t know if the seven remaining postals are real or going to be rejected. I project +1 or -1 depending on which way that goes (+/- 10 or so, +/- recount, +/- court case).

  174. triton

    This might drag on for years.

  175. ltep

    What a thrilling result.

  176. Outsider

    ltep. It beats the footy finals!

  177. Andrew Bartlett

    Clive now only 22 in front with everything gone except 253 pre-polls (& only 7 postals, which seems a bit odd), many of which could be disallowed.

    On trend the Libs would get back in front if around 150 of the pre-polls were accepted.

    What’s the odds on a tie? (it’s all a bit academic seeing we’re going to have a recount anyway, but would add to the fun.)

  178. Kevin Bonham

    Conflicting reports of Palmer final margin of 8 and final margin of 36. It seems that someone has the split of the last absent bundle the wrong way around.

  179. triton

    The page says 36. I guess they wouldn’t put it up unless that’s resolved. Surely it’s Clive’s now – pending a re-count.

  180. Kevin Bonham

    36 is final pending recount according to AEC on Twitter.

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen such an “unprojectable” contest. Every time it seemed clear which way the wind is blowing, or even that it was blowing towards a tie, one of them or other has done something statistically remarkable.

    36 must be likely to survive the recount. Recount plus court could knock it over though. Worth 37 votes combined in McEwen 2007. 🙂

  181. Outsider

    It’s certainly been a count for the purists. The sheer randomness of the vote flows at the end! A finish for psepho purists, no doubt enhanced by the personalities involved. Are we sure the counting is all over?

  182. ruawake

    The Sunshine Coast has a reasonably large FIFO workforce, I wonder if this accounts for the variations in declaration votes among the same kind?

  183. triton

    ruawake, would those workers belong to the electorate?

  184. triton

    Well, that’s a surprise. ABC TV news Melbourne reported that there will be a “full distribution of preferences” early next week, and if the margin is fewer than 100 votes there will be a re-count. So we don’t already have a full distribution of preferences?

  185. Kevin Bonham


    Well, that’s a surprise. ABC TV news Melbourne reported that there will be a “full distribution of preferences” early next week, and if the margin is fewer than 100 votes there will be a re-count. So we don’t already have a full distribution of preferences?

    No; what we actually have is a 2PP between Palmer and O’Brien on the assumption that they are the final two candidates. But mathematically it is possible, though unlikely in the extreme in practice, that the Labor candidate could beat Palmer into second and exclude him. The Labor candidate trails Palmer by 8.24 points but candidates below them combined have 13.95%. So they need to do the full distribution to confirm for the sake of certainty that this is not the case. In the process they are quite likely to pick up some of the minor errors that have been made along the way.

  186. democracy@work

    Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

     I request that the Electoral Commission as part of its obligations
    and commitment to maintaining an open and transparent electoral
    process publish progressively during the data-entry process copies
    of the electronic data entry preference data files used to tabulate
    the election results.

    This information should be readily available and certified copies
    of the data files MUST be published prior to the declaration of the

    There is no legislative or overriding reason why this information
    is not published on line as is the case with other electoral
    results. An electronic record of the data is the same as any other
    document or record.

    It is fundamental that our electoral system is open and transparent
    and subject to full independent scrutiny

    By refusing to make this information available for scrutiny
    undermines public confidence and brings the Electoral Commission
    and the election itself into disrepute

  187. Andrew Bartlett

    I presume they’ve started on the recount, but eariler today the AEC site had Palmer’s winning margin changed from 36 to 37, and now it has moved from 37 to 38.

    all being recounted anyway I guess, but seems a bit odd.

  188. triton

    My guess is that they’ve discovered a few errors and corrected them. I hope they continue to provide updates of the progression of the re-count.

    I would think that they have organized the counted votes in such a way that the reason for any differences from the first count can be identified. Say, if votes for a given candidate are placed in bundles not too large (say, 10 or 20) they can check that each bundle has the right number and that every vote in it is valid and for that candidate. Then a not-too-large number of those bundles are themselves bundled, and so on. It shouldn’t be like counting a jar of jelly beans where you do it twice and get a different number but you don’t know why.

  189. ltep

    Palmer’s lead now at 39, he told us it was rigged!

    It’d be nice if there was an indication of the progress of the recount (although I’m not sure exactly how this could be done).

  190. triton

    [Palmer’s lead now at 39, he told us it was rigged! ]

    Creeping up gradually, but at the last moment the AEC will find an error that rips it all away. (Cannot let Palmer get away with these outrageous rigging claims!)

  191. SgtThursday

    If the Member (apparent) for Fairfax claims to possess compelling evidence, then he should present it via the appropriate channels.

    If not, then the Member (apparent) should resume his seat.