Another review of the late counting situation, plus the Labor leadership vote, jockeying to succeed Bob Carr in the Senate, and prospects for electronic voting.
Yet another review of late counting, together with a few other things:
• With McEwen continuing to slip from the Liberals’ grasp, the only remaining lower house seat in doubt is Fairfax, where Clive Palmer received a very handy fillip yesterday when provisional votes pushed his lead out from three to 98. Follow the action here.
• Then there are the Senate races in Western Australia and Tasmania, which are unlikely to become clear until the below-the-line data entry is completed and the button pushed to calculate the outcome (there’s a dedicated thread for Senate counting here, although it’s not doing much business). In the former case, there are probably two seats which hinge on absurdly trivial combinations of micro-party votes and whether they work to the advantage of Australian Sports Party candidate Wayne Dropulich – the fates of Labor and Greens incumbents Louise Pratt and Scott Ludlam as much involved as those of Dropulich and the other potential micro-party winner, Zhenya Wang of the Palmer United Party. The early test for Dropulich is whether he stays ahead of the Rise Up Australia party (0.29%) after his own votes (0.22%) are supplemented by preferences from Australian Voice (0.09%), which has been touch-and-go but has improved for Dropulich on today’s counting. As TruthSeeker observes, Dropulich then needs for the current 183-vote lead of Australian Christians over Shooters & Fishers at Count 21 to hold, which it may not do when below-the-line votes are taken into account. Failing that, Dropulich could be saved if, at Count 19, Help End Marijuana Prohibition failed to hold its present 117-vote lead over the Animal Justice Party, for reasons which would do your head in. On any scenario in which Dropulich wins, the other seat looks set to go to Scott Ludlam of the Greens. If he fails, Zhenya Wang will be joined by Louise Pratt rather than Ludlam, as the Palmer United Party’s direction of preferences to the Greens ahead of Labor would no longer be a factor.
• For Tasmania, Kevin Bonham has the various scenarios neatly laid out in a flow chart, two of which (the final seat going to third Liberal Sally Chandler or Jacqui Lambie of the Palmer United Party) are rated more likely than the others (the win for Robbie Swan of the Sex Party currently projected by Antony Green’s calculator and, with a particularly small chance, a win for Family First). So far as the projection of Antony Green’s calculator is concerned, the trend of counting is towards Robbie Swan of the Sex Party in his fight to stay ahead of the third Labor candidate at Count 21. He took the lead on Tuesday, and it has since gradually opened to 382. However, Bonham’s rough calculation is that it will need to be more like 800 to save him from below-the-line vote leakage. Of the many absurdities in this state of affairs, I have two favourites. One is that the Liberals need the Labor vote to be as high as possible to help ensure Swan’s exclusion, which presumably means Liberal scrutineers are fighting with Labor ones to ensure potential Labor votes are included in the count. The second, noted by Kevin Bonham, is that voters confusing the Liberal Democrats with the Liberals is actually to the Liberals’ advantage, as they have various paths to victory which involve the Liberal Democrats staying ahead of the Palmer United Party or Family First, while their own vote total is essentially academic at this stage.
• Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes was thought by many to have jumped the gun yesterday when he refuted media speculation he might replace Bob Carr in the Senate, given Carr is yet to announce any intention on that front. However, the universal expectation that it will be so is indicated by jockeying to fill the spot. Troy Bramston of The Australian reports that Carr wishes to be succeeded by Graeme Wedderburn, who has been his chief-of-staff both as Premier and Foreign Minister. However, it is today reported that state secretary Jamie Clements has called for the position to go to Deborah O’Neil, who lost her seat of Robertson at the September 7 election, pleading affirmative action. Graeme Wedderburn held senior positions with Westpac and Origin Energy following Carr’s retirement as Premier in 2005, before being lured back to the job by Nathan Rees in 2009 in part by the promise of a Senate seat down the track. However, he was denied a vacancy at the 2010 election due to an arrangement in which Matt Thistlethwaite, who is now entering the lower house as Peter Garrett’s successor in Kingsford-Smith, was given a Senate seat to ease him out of the state secretary position.
• At the beginning of what promises to be a bumper season of electoral reform debate, the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand offers a paper on Internet voting in Australian electoral systems. A trailblazer on this score has been Estonia, which has provided for voting over the internet at national elections since 2007, and allowed for voting over mobile phones at the 2011 election, at which the overall take-up rate was nearly a quarter of all votes cast. However, simplifying matters somewhat in Estonia’s case is its national identity card. The paper observes that survey research by the Western Australian Electoral Commission found satisfaction that internet voting would be secured had increased from a third of all respondents in 2005 to a half in 2013. Electronic voting more broadly, including “kiosk” voting conducted within polling stations, is spruiked as offering lower costs, improved formality, more accurate capture of preferences (trials with overseas personnel in 2007 found a higher take-up rate for below-the-line voting), and opportunities for assisting vision-impaired or non-English speaking voters.
• I’ve had too little to say on the Labor leadership election process, of which I’m all in favour, but there’s a useful review of the New Zealand and British precendents from David Donaldson in Crikey.
• Six months out from the state election, there was an EMRS opinion poll from Tasmania out yesterday, which you can read all about in the post below.
• Another new post directly below deals with the state by-election for Miranda in New South Wales, to be held on October 19.