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South Australian election late counting

A progressively updated post following the counting of over a quarter-of-a-million outstanding votes in South Australia's cliffhanger election.



5.3pm. Further counting in Elder reversed the trend just noted, breaking 1485-1254 Labor’s way and putting the lead at 757, which is very likely more than the number of votes still outstanding. Counting also favoured Labor today in Ashford (347-287, increasing the lead to 820) and Newland (671-652, putting it at 656).

Noon. Declaration votes are flowing fairly strongly the Liberals’ way in Elder, a second batch breaking 528-429. That reduces the Labor lead to 526, and could send it below 300 if the trend continues.


8.30pm. The final score for the day from Colton shows Labor gained 1196-1078, putting Paul Caica’s lead at an unassailable 570 with perhaps 1000 votes remaining to be counted. The tide of late counting continued to flood the Liberals’ way in Hartley, today’s batch favouring Liberal candidate Vincent Tarzia over Grace Portolesi by 1685-1204, pushing his lead out to 1131.

5pm. A big addition of votes in Newland breaks 1426-1332, putting Labor’s Tom Kenyon 637 ahead and confirming his victory. In Mitchell, Labor clawed back 39 votes out of 3203 added, but it’s too little too late. Pretty much impossible now not to see a result of Labor 23, Liberal 22, independents two.

4.30pm. Labor has pulled a further 107 ahead with the addition of 1415 votes in Ashford, where Steph Key’s lead is now at 760 and unlikely to change much with perhaps 1000 votes still outstanding. Sykesie reports Labor now 588 ahead in Colton, with postals favouring the Liberals by an insufficient 52-48.

1.30pm. Well-informed commenter Sykesie relates that the morning’s counting in Colton has broken Labor’s way 349-262, putting Labor 539 votes in front and making life all but impossible for the Liberals. Their only hope of making it a twenty-third seat is an unlikely late reversal in Newland, where Labor leads by 543 with declaration vote counting still at an early stage, with about 4000 votes still to count.


11pm. It appears a move from postal to pre-poll counting also staunched the flow in Ashford, where Labor’s Steph Key now looks home and hosed after today’s batch broke only 728-720 to Liberal. This leaves Key 653 in front and projected to win by about 500. Nothing today from Elder or Newland.

6pm. Labor nerves will have steadied considerably with the addition of 970 votes in Colton, which I understand to be pre-polls. These have broken 491-479 in their favour and held their lead at 452. Projecting the existing declaration vote shares over an assumption of about 3000 outstanding votes, Labor emerges over 250 votes in the clear.

1pm. Mitchell continues to trend the Liberals’ way, 980 newly added votes breaking 563-417 and pushing the margin out from 373 to 519.


6pm. It appears the votes counted today were mostly if not entirely postal votes, and they are playing according to the script of favouring the Liberals by virtue of not reflecting the move back to Labor in the final week. On top of what was mentioned previously, today’s counting favoured the Liberals 808-634 in Ashford and 888-767 in Elder, and while that’s likely to be too little too late in Elder, the projected Labor win in Ashford comes down to double figures if the final declaration vote total is presumed to be 6000.

5pm. Encouraging first set of declaration vote numbers for the Liberals in Colton, breaking their way 556-425. If that trend were to play out over a total of 5000 declaration votes – 4000 having been the norm last time, but many more pre-polls apparently having been cast this time – the Liberals would finish about 100 in front. However, it may be that these are absent votes cast over the boundary in a Liberal-leaning part of the electorate, or representative of a particularly strong result for the Liberals on either postals, absent or pre-poll votes that won’t be replicated among the other vote types. UPDATE: I’m told on Twitter that these are postal votes. ECSA doesn’t do breakdowns of declaration votes, but in the corresponding federal seat of Hindmarsh, the Liberal two-party vote in September was 55.4% compared with 53.9% for pre-polls. Absent votes favoured broke 52-48 to Labor, but that’s unlikely to be instructive with respect to Colton.

4pm. The first 1424 added in the only seat that might get Labor to a majority, Mitchell, have broken 782-642 the Liberals’ way, increasing their lead from 233 to 373. If that keeps up, their winning margin will be around 800.

2pm. 1218 votes have been added in Newland, breaking 632-586 to the Liberals and reducing the Labor lead from 589 to 543. If that trend continues, the Liberals will only be able to wear away about 200 votes. However, trends in late counting can be variable, particularly in relation to pre-poll and absent votes which might be cast in particular parts of the electorate or neighbouring electorates. Unfortunately, ECSA doesn’t distinguish between different types of declaration vote in its published results.

Monday night

This post will follow the crucial late counting for the South Australian election, which has so far only dealt with re-checking of the polling booth votes counted on election night. Counting of an estimated 260,000 pre-poll and postal votes begins today, with the Liberals needing multiple miracles to boost them from their likely total of 22 to a majority of 24, and Labor hoping they might yet get there through what presently seems an unlikely win in Mitchell. Labor’s narrowest leads are of 571 votes in Colton (1.6%) and 589 votes in Newland (1.8%), while the Liberal lead in Mitchell is 233 (0.7%).


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390 thoughts on “South Australian election late counting

  1. Swing Required

    Does anyone have previous pre-poll and postal trends in the close seats?

    It would probably need 55 to 60% to go to the Libs in each seat to make up the margin.

    Given the bigger number of pre-polls this time, is that a likelihood?

  2. Diogenes


    Someone said the ran roughly 55-45 to the Libs last time, depending on the seat.

  3. moderate

    Likely to be a stronger flow of pre polls to the liberals this time – at least this is the prevailing wisdom- as the ALP gained a significant amount of its traction in the last 3-4 days.

  4. Mortlock

    There were a lot of swings all over the place in different electorates this election, so it is hard to predict. But most likely these will favour the LNP, but a 23-22 ALP to LNP still is prob still the most likely outcome.

  5. Diogenes

    Colton is the most likely to flip but that’s unlikely. Even if it did it doesn’t make much difference as the Libs would still need the two indies. The chance of the Libs flipping two is remote.

  6. spur212

    Just to set the cat amongst the pigeons:

    1. If Marshall wasn’t the member for Dunstan, There’s a good chance the ALP would have won the seat

    2. If the boundaries hadn’t been redistributed in the way they were in Bright in 2010, Chloe Fox would probably still be in the contest at this point. Her personal standing might have taken a whack in some of the safer ALP booths though from her record as Transport Minister.

  7. spur212

    From the polls we saw earlier in the campaign, I’d say Caica should get over the line in Colton.

    I reckon Mitchell is the only seat that will go to the Liberals on postal votes. The fact that the question now is whether the ALP will get a majority really says it all.

  8. Edi_Mahin

    The number of votes still be counted is up to 320000 according to the ABC radio news report I just heard.

    You can get the figures for declaration votes from downloading the document at http://www.ecsa.sa.gov.au/component/edocman/?view=document&id=451:2010-state-election-statistics&highlight=YTozOntpOjA7aToyMDEwO2k6MTtzOjc6InJlc3VsdHMiO2k6MjtzOjEyOiIyMDEwIHJlc3VsdHMiO30=

  9. docantk

    Tally room has 2010 postal vote results from the six close seats. Only Mitchell would flip to labor on this data


  10. spur212

    The thing about Newland is Kenyon should get enough preference leakage from Family First if he gets into serious trouble. The seats really there are Elder and Colton.

    I can’t see either of them falling, but who knows

  11. Carey Moore

    I have to admit Hartley is a big surprise. I mean it’s most likely still going Lib but I was expecting it to be called on the night.

  12. spur212

    And Mitchell of course, but I’ve already got that one down for the Liberals. Wingard was a smart choice by the Liberals

  13. Ross

    Caica’s 2010 declaration votes in Colton were 1.5% less than his booth tally (54.2, 52.7). Whilst a repeat won’t exactly push him into bees’ dick territory, it could make it uncomfortably interesting.

  14. spur212


    It might get a bit interesting but I think Caica’s ahead enough at this point to hold on

  15. spur212


    I’d say the Liberal candidate in Hartley wasn’t the most inspiring and trustworthy bloke you’ll ever meet. He was good enough to get past Portolesi (only because she’s been intensely targeted since 2010) but a decent ALP candidate there next time could see it go back the other way.

  16. Edi_Mahin

    To be clear as to what happened in Colton last time.

    Without declaration votes Caica had a 2PP lead of 54.2-45.8.

    When the declartion votes where included he had a lead of 54-46.

    So while he did 1.5% worse on declaration votes it only lowered he 2PP by 0.2%.

    This time he leads 51.6-48.4

    If he does 1.5% worse on declaration votes he still will win the declarations votes 50.1-49.9 and increase his lead in number of votes. As there probably are more declaration votes this time it would effect his final 2PP lead by slightly more but it would not cause him to lose the seat.

    Last time there were 4165 declaration votes. This time there might be about 5500 declaration votes. To gain 572 votes his opponent would need to get 55.2 of the declaration votes. This means they would have to do close 7% better 2PP on declaration votes than ordinary votes.

  17. Ekigozan

    As I mentioned in another thread, some quirks in Hartley (a pre-poll centre in the Liberal part of the seat, the redistribution causing a higher than usual number of Liberal absentee votes and a history of high Liberal declaration votes in this seat) mean that the final swing in Hartley is likely to be one of the larger ones to Liberal in the state.

    The Hartley booths swung on average around 5% but this isn’t reflected in the current summaries due to this non-random distribution of the declaration voters.

  18. Psephos

    Habibgate: We now have the odd situation of Ed Husic saying the leaflet was racist, and Cory Bernardi saying it wasn’t. Whom to believe?

  19. spur212

    I think the dilemma here for Psephos is that Ed Husic is a member of the Right faction …

  20. Psephos

    How is that a dilemma for me?

  21. spur212

    Take it easy Psephos, take it easy 😛

  22. William Bowe

    New figures in from Newland – update added to post.

  23. Edi_Mahin

    We have some figures in Newland.

    Glen Docherty for the Liberals is winning the declaration votes but by no where near enough to take the seat. He has made up just 46 votes from the first 1218 formal declaration votes. This means he is still behind by 543. 1218 is probably about a quarter of the declaration votes for the seat.

    This means Kenyon will win by somewhere around 400 votes if the numbers continue at a similar level.

  24. Scott

    It’s going to be interesting!

    BTW Did anyone tape the complete coverage? I’m desperate for a copy of my recorder died for some reason!

  25. Psephos

    As it happens, I think Husic and Bernardi are both wrong. I don’t think the flyer was racist, in the sense that it was trying to draw attention to Habib’s race. (As a flyer saying “Can you trust NGUYEN?” would have been.) But I do think it was deliberately drawing attention to Habib’s name, because it’s a name associated with Muslims. (Although Habib may well be Lebanese Christian – not many Muslims call their daughters Carolyn.) If it’s a covert appeal to anything, it’s an appeal to dislike of Islam, not Arabs as a race. (Which is ironic since most Muslims vote Labor.)

  26. Independently Thinking

    OK guys, now to spill the beans on the Habib leaflet.

    It was designed to be ‘controversial’ but the real message was on the back – that since Cr Habib has been on Marion Council the rates had risen etc etc.

    This is despite Cr Habib’s best efforts in voting against these vote rises which were supported by the Labor Councillors (and others).

    Ironic but the leaflet’s contents on the back were accurate but out of context.

    And the controversy on the front succeeded in drawing attention to it – and the message on the back. Marketing success and seat won. Good night.

  27. Independently Thinking

    #26 * rate rises

  28. Mortlock


    It was ‘racist’ and calculating. The ALP (perhaps correctly) recognised that the LNP tends to have a monopoly on people with bigoted or racist views voting for them (they stole them from One Nations with the ‘tough’ asylum seeker rhetoric). So they printed a sign to emphasis Habib’s background, using racilised innuendos that targeted a specific demographic that usually vote LNP, but is perhaps not all that politically engage. It was a politically clever move, but one that was morally abhorrent. The people in the ALP that were behind it should be ashamed of themselves.

  29. Rebecca

    No surprise that Husic would take issue with this after the disgusting campaign that the Liberals ran against him on his first run for parliament.

    Also no surprise that none of the Liberals piping up about the Elder leaflet didn’t have a damn thing to say back then.

  30. Psephos

    But the campaign against Husic wasn’t racist – Husic is of “European” race. It was directed against him because he is a (very nominal) Muslim. What is Habib’s “race”? I’ve no idea. The subliminal association of the name Habib is not with a race, but with Islam.

  31. Jackol

    It was ‘racist’ and calculating.

    It’s a bog standard attack ad, the same or worse has been directed at many MPs. Change the name to any ALP or LNP candidate and it would be unremarkable. Racist bunkum.

  32. Psephos

    I think that’s naive. If her name was Smith it wouldn’t have featured SMITH in big red letters. Note the absence of her given name, contrary to usual practice, because calling her “Carolyn Habib” would have made her sound less like a Muslim.

  33. Mortlock

    According to Australian legislation “Racial discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.” Racism is a social constructed, and subliminal association with Habib’s name was to emphasise that because her heritage she was somehow is less Australia and less trustworthy. It was an indefensible tactic, and one that I would usually associate with the LNP or One Nation.

  34. Mortlock

    “Race is a social construct” – sorry I should read my comments more carefully before posting them.

  35. Jackol

    I think that’s naive.

    Of course you do.

    If her name was Smith it wouldn’t have featured SMITH in big red letters.

    And how would you make an attack ad against candidate SMITH?

    Note the absence of her given name, contrary to usual practice

    You would have some examples on hand so we can compare and contrast?

  36. meher baba

    Psephos: FWIW, as I understand it, Carolyn Habib is from the reasonably prominent Alice Springs business family of the same name, who I believe are Lebanese Christians (well, her father at any rate: I think her mother might have been Anglo).

    If we are to think that the pamphlet was “racist” in some sense, then I guess one could call it “implied anti-Islam”.

  37. SoulmanZ

    Psephos – stop being obtuse. Muslims face discrimination that looks, feels and tastes exactly like racism.

    When you ask a bigot to picture a Muslim, they describe a racial identity, not a religious one. The leaflet was clearly targeted at bigots, so using your own opinion on what constitutes a Muslim is essentially irrelevant. The people targeted think it means an ethnicity.

    Unsurprisingly people called Habib are usually from a particular ethnic group. If they had gone with “Can you trust Carolyn?” we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Splitting hairs about the meaning of the word racism when the dogwhistle is about dark skinned Arab people is disingenuous and you should feel bad.

  38. meher baba

    PS: Whatever the motivations were, I think the pamphlet was ill-advised. Any public statement along the lines of “Can you trust so and so” is never going to look terribly good if “so and so” has a name which identifies them as being from one of the more sensitive ethnic groups: eg, East and South East Asian, Middle Eastern or African, Jewish or Aboriginal.

  39. Jackol

    Fundamentally to have people vote for her, Ms Habib required people to go into the booth with the ballot paper and put a “1” next to the name “HABIB, Carolyn”.

    If the voters are going to have a problem with her name they’re going to have a problem with her name at that point.

    I genuinely don’t see that it is of any material difference to any other attack ad in political history. Now maybe I’m just ignorant and haven’t “checked my privilege” or whatever. I know perfectly well that if I was thinking of voting for Ms Habib that that pamphlet wouldn’t have altered my opinion (or at least not by highlighting her name in scary font).

  40. Independently Thinking

    Mortlock @ 28,

    I am sorry if you think the LNP have a mortgage on those with racist views but you are incredibly wrong (and I apologise if you are being sarcastic and I missed it).

    Many One Nation supporters and Howard’s battlers are blue collar Labor voters who are deeply resentful of a country that is changing and they feel they are being left behind.

    Also remember it was the ALP who invented the White Australia Policy (though I acknowledge, to their credit, they have left it far behind now), and in my work, I deal with people of blue collar background from Adelaide’s poorer suburbs every day and it is no coincidence they voted strongly for One Nation where the safe Liberal city seats did not. I promise you they hate the reffos, ‘towel heads’ and anyone else who they feel is getting a better deal than them. They are also resistant to social engineering to change their views.

    Elder has a lot of those ‘who missed the bus’ as Australian playwrights in the 60s put it, who are resentful that they do not feel they share in the good times of the country and are looking for a scapegoat – and refugees, Muslims, Chinese students, whatever, all are fair game.

    And yes, some LNP supporters are racist too.

    And yes, the relevant ALP people should be ashamed of themselves, as should the Libs who concocted the leaflets against Husic, for the same reason.

    We are all poorer for it and all it does is open the door to something we don’t want to repeat from the 1930s.

  41. Mortlock

    @Jackol “I know perfectly well that if I was thinking of voting for Ms Habib that that pamphlet wouldn’t have altered my opinion.” You are writing a comment on an election blog which implies that you take a reasonably active interest in politics, the pamphlet therefore was not aimed at you, so you opinion is moot. It is not Habib’s name that was the issue (i.e., people seeing it on a ballot paper) but rather the context in which is was used to promote xenophobic anxieties.

  42. tomd

    “racilised innuendos”

    Her name?

  43. Jackol

    It is not Habib’s name that was the issue

    Good, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up.

    the context in which is was used to promote xenophobic anxieties.

    Explain the context “used to promote xenophobic anxieties” given that, as you said, it was not Habib’s name that was the issue.

    Associating a politician’s name with unsettling images, colours, shapes is the bread and butter of attack ads. That’s my point.

  44. Mortlock

    @Independently Thinking

    You’re right, perhaps a bit more nuanced is needed. I am pretty sure (and I believe focus group data supports this, but i don’t have links right now), that there is a reasonably large demographic of people (some ex-ALP), who carry xenophobic prejudices, and these prejudices make them more inclined to vote LNP due their tough asylum seeker policies.

    Therefore, I don’t think the LNP has a monopoly on racist voters; however, they have crafted a political environment where they are quite active in courting their vote through strategic dog-whistling (see Morrison). I don’t hold the ALP in particular high regard, but I at least thought they were better than the Habib pamphlets.

  45. meher baba

    Apropos of how people can make assumptions on the basis of names, I once heard a story about a certain minister in a certain government somewhere who was of Greek extraction. This minister was once given a shortlist of two names – both female – to choose between for an appointment to some sinecure or other.

    Without hesitation (or even glancing at their cvs) the Minister immediately chose the one of the two who had a Greek surname. Nobody was brave enough to ask him the reason for his instant choice. Perhaps he knew both of them well already. But there was a suggestion that he was occasionally inclined to display a bit of an ethnic bias towards people with Greek ancestry, and this was what had happened on this particular occasion.

    If that was indeed the case (and who can say for sure), the joke was on him, because it turned out that the woman with the Greek surname was an Anglo who was married to a man of Greek extraction, and the woman with the Anglo surname was actually of Greek extraction (and was married to an Anglo)!

  46. Mortlock

    @Jackol – I think you are chopping up my quotes to try and justify your position, rather than engaging with my overall argument. It is a weak form of retort.

    The ALP sort to emphasise Habib’s cultural background and associated with being untrustworthy. It was morally dubious tactic, and should be condemned.

  47. tomd

    Am I the only one who thinks the Libs completely took the bait on this one? Screaming about dog whistles is basically calling your electors racists, not your opposition. That can’t help your cause. If they honestly thought that the electorate is that racist, perhaps they should have picked a different candidate. I suspect that they don’t think that, though. It is, however, a convenient excuse for a bad result.

  48. Jackol

    The ALP sort to emphasise Habib’s cultural background and associated with being untrustworthy. It was morally dubious tactic, and should be condemned.

    And I’m suggesting that the ALP sought to emphasise Habib’s political record and character and associate it with being untrustworthy. As almost all attack ads do.

    As I said, I did as Wong effectively did and substituted other names for Habib’s but imagined the rest of the pamphlet intact. To my mind it seemed like a run of the mill attack ad that I could easily imagine in any campaign.

    The closest any suggestions have come to directly linking the pamphlet to preying on racist sentiment is that the menacing brick wall is suggestive of war torn Beirut or something like that – a very long bow in my mind, and something that I find hard to believe would resonate with anyone.

    And Psephos claims that if only they’d used “Carolyn Habib” that it couldn’t have been racist or bigoted (and that therefore the pamphlet wouldn’t have been made). Perhaps, but I don’t see it myself.

    If we don’t ban attack ads in general, I see no reason to outlaw or condemn this specific attack ad any more than any other. They are all using psychological tricks (menacing shapes, colours, fonts etc) to denigrate other candidates – it’s just in this case there’s an ethnic name rather than an Anglo name.

  49. William Bowe

    Liberal lead widens from 233 to 373 in Mitchell.

  50. Mortlock

    @tomd – yes you’re right. That’s why it was an effective strategy.

    @Jackol – attack adds are always going to be part of electoral campaigns, and I think it is up to parties (to an extent) to work out what limits they have. i think the ALP crossed a line with their add, I have absolutely no doubt the person who designed that add, did so with a mind to drive a political wedge into the LNP’s base by playing with xenophobic sentiments. The fact that is was effective, as tomd point out, is perhaps a bit of a sad reflection of the makeup of some of the LNP’s base.


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