Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Johnston Team Routs The Old Guard In Glenorchy Council Elections

In tonight's counting we've seen the sequel to the Kafkaesque demise of the previous Glenorchy City Council, and it's worth briefly explaining what has gone on, if only so that people understand what a provisional distribution is.

Kristie Johnston has been re-elected Mayor with 86.4% of the vote to 13.6% for sole opponent Steven King.  That election has been declared.  I cannot remember a larger win in a mayoral contest in Tasmania, but there has probably been one.  There have been larger wins in Legislative Council contests sometimes.

Matt Stevenson has been elected Deputy Mayor with 56.4% of the primary vote in a field of six.  That election too has been declared.  The runner-up, Simon Fraser on 13.8%, has finished ahead of two incumbent aldermen.  Incumbent Deputy, Harry Quick, has polled 9.6%, a 20-point swing against his 2014 result.  I am unsure if any incumbent deputy has ever polled such a low primary vote in such a contest in Tasmanian council voting.

What is not finished yet is the aldermanic count.  The TEC has released a sample result based on the counting of 45% of the ballots counted.  Also, those ballots have yet to be checked by being entered again.  This is labelled as a "possible result" only, because if the breakup of the 55% of ballots not yet entered is different then the results may be a bit different.  When this process was introduced in 2014, we reliably saw that the candidates near the top of the winner lists always won, but the interim winners in the last few positions didn't always all make it.

In this case, there is a fair chance that we are looking at the final composition of the new Council, because Steven King currently wins the final place by 91.7 votes, and that is a lot to make up with 45% of the sample counted.  There also don't seem to be any obvious exclusion order tricks at the end.  But we do need to wait for the final button press to see if any of the defeated candidates can make a comeback on what remains.

The status of Quick in the count has also caused some confusion.  In the interim sample he is shown as "Remaining in the count".  However, if he remains in that position, he loses.  The term "remaining in the count" means the last candidate left without quota who isn't elected but doesn't have their preferences thrown either - 11th in a race for 10 seats in this case.

In the interim distribution, Kristie Johnston has a staggering 59% of the vote (6.6 quotas).  It may be that an aldermanic vote this high has been recorded on a Tasmanian council but I am not aware of such a case.  The nearest I know of is Terry Martin getting 56.5% in 1999, and that was only an election for half the Council, against a field half the size.

The nearest primary vote to Johnston's is Melissa Carlton's 3%, meaning that the candidate in first has nineteen times the vote of anybody else.  Johnston's surplus in the interim distribution actually elects her most prominent ticket-mates Stevenson and Jan Dunsby, and then the remaining candidates trickle in as others are excluded.  At present, eight of the ten "Team Kristie" candidates win, and only King and Fraser are elected from outside the ticket.  If that holds up, that will make King the sole survivor from the seven-Councillor grouping that dominated the previous Council.  (Four didn't recontest, and Quick and Jenny Branch-Allen are currently on track to lose.)

The results are remarkable even by the standards of the lead-up, but it is worth noting that the Johnston team has run with little obvious opposition outside of their former opponents.  The former majority grouping has been the subject of adverse findings (caution: 313 page PDF link!), and the insurgents have had an excellent run in local media.  Johnston has long had the support of Denison federal independent Andrew Wilkie, and the state Liberal government won't be distressed about this result at all (especially as they can say that they fixed up the mess, and it spares them from having to face Johnston at the state poll in March.)

A few more notes:

* I am not sure why the Greens bother running for this council, at least while Johnston is there competing for their voters.  Their two candidates in this case so far have a combined 1.7%.

* The informal vote on the Councillor ballots currently appears to be extremely low at only 1.3%.  It will be interesting to see if this remains the case or perhaps if obvious informals might not have been included in the initial data entry.  If it does remain this low then a possible explanation is a high number of voters voting 1-10 for the Team Kristie candidates.

* Turnout was quite high at 54%.  Aside from the apparent interest among voters in putting the nonsense of the past few years to rest, it's logical that while this would have been a very bad time for some voters (my concern about holding an election at this time), it would also have been a good time for many who had more time to vote because of time off work.

I'll add a note on the final result when the final button is pressed in a few days.

Final result: Nothing changed in the winner list.  Johnston's final primary was 58.4%. Oh and informal votes finished at 5.3% so my suspicion some were being held back there was correct.  Too high since most would have been unintentional.

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