Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Senate 2019: Button Press Thread


Just starting a thread that will cover the button presses in the remaining Senate races including any interesting information from the distributions of preferences as they come to hand.  I haven't been putting myself in the loop concerning when exactly the button presses will occur, save that Tasmania's will be tomorrow at 10:30 am (open to scrutineers, of which I'm not one this year) with the declaration of the poll on Friday at the same time.  The ACT count is also ready to go (to be delcared on Friday afternoon) and the remaining counts are getting close to completion with relatively few unapportioned or uncounted votes still showing.  The NT button has already been pressed, which did nothing because both major party #1 candidates had a quota.  William Bowe has some comments on NT preferences.

This thread will be updated as news and analysis comes to hand over the next week or two.  Some time after they are all over I will be posting a Senate reform performance review similar to that which I posted in 2016.  The great bulk of concerns about the new Senate voting system were clearly  falsified in 2016 but this is its first test at a half-Senate election.

In terms of party totals, only one of the final seat races is even remotely close and that is Queensland.  In Queensland, the notional primary vote margin between the Greens (currently 6th) and Labor (currently 7th) is currently .114 quotas (1.63%).  The LNP and One Nation are slightly ahead of the Greens.  Early in the count this looked like it could be close after preferences (see my Queensland thread with links to other coverage) but (i) the primary vote margin has blown out compared to earlier expectations (ii) Labor might not even gain on preferences at all.

In other states and territories the notional margins between sixth and seventh are very large indeed:

* New South Wales: Greens lead One Nation by .263 Q (3.76%)
* Victoria: Coalition leads One Nation by .317 Q (4.53%) with Derryn Hinch on about the same score as One Nation
* Western Australia: Greens lead One Nation by .410 Q (5.86%)
* South Australia: Liberals lead One Nation by .306 Q (4.37%)
* Tasmania: Jacqui Lambie leads One Nation by .382 Q (5.46%)
* ACT: Liberals lead Greens by .44 Q (6.29%) and will cross quota very early in the preference distribution anyway.

Nothing we saw in 2016 suggests that these gaps will be bridged, although One Nation could erase most of the Greens' gap in NSW.  Two candidates did win from notionally behind in 2016 (Malcolm Roberts and Bob Day), but these were across smaller gaps (1.4% in each case) and in situations where their main opponents were sorely blighted by leakage (Labor vs Day) or poor preference-getting ability (LDP vs Roberts).

There is a candidate-vote-based complication in Tasmania, where Lisa Singh (.397Q) is ahead of One Nation and is in the race for seventh (where she would have finished at a half-Senate election based on the 2016 results).  However it is unrealistic for Singh to reach sixth as she cannot receive any above the line preferences until Catryna Bilyk (notionally about .19 quotas ahead of Singh) has been elected, which may not actually happen until Singh herself has been excluded.  While Tasmania has a 27.1% below the line vote, only about 5.1% (.36 Q) of the Tasmanian count consists of effectively free BTLs that will be distributed at full value from excluded parties or within the Senate ticket (the rest will be distributed at greatly reduced value if even at all), and even if Singh got nearly all of these (which won't happen) she would struggle to overtake Bilyk or Lambie who will both be picking up above-the-line preferences.

There is no candidate exclusion complication in New South Wales, where the very weak supply of BTLs means that Jim Molan will be excluded and his preferences (minus those that leak) will flow up the ticket to Perin Davey.  At the time of Molan's exclusion there will not be all that many places left for his BTLs to leak to.  (See here for more on Molan's BTL vote.)

A section will be posted below for each remaining state/territory, in alphabetical order, once its result is known.


As expected:

1. Gallagher (ALP)
2. Seselja (Lib)

Gallagher was elected on primaries and Seselja was elected on UAP preferences with the following still in the count: Greens, Pesec, ALP#2.  Exhaust was 0.1%.

Similar issues were seen with the Pesec box as with the Garland box in Tasmania (see below).  54% of above the line voters left the Pesec box blank, although there were only seven boxes in the ACT.  Of these 40% had FACN 6th, suggesting that they were putting FACN last but didn't think the Pesec square should be numbered.

The final margin for Seselja over Kyburz (Green) was 15%.  Had all remaining preferences been thrown I have a rough estimate of a margin of 8.5% but I do not claim certainty that this is accurate as I have cut a few corners (which probably favour the Greens - ignoring breaks in sequence and ignoring issues with votes from other parties) and the spreadsheet programming is getting near the edge of my limited abilities.  Maybe 9.5% would be more accurate.  I get the following flows from major remaining preference sources: ALP ATLs 79-19 to Greens, Gallagher BTLs 85-11, Pesec ATLs 51-44, Pesec BTLs 70-26.

More strategic voting would have reduced the margin further but would not have stopped Seselja winning because more than a quota of votes had him higher than Labor or the Greens.  With the optimum organisation of Labor and Greens voters, among those in theory open to shifting their votes between the two, the margin might be brought down to about 4%-5%.

The #2 FACN candidate also garnered the most BTL last places in the ACT, defeating Seselja for the dishonour 4956-4046.  FACN also won this in the NT (overwhelmingly) so are currently 3 from 3.


The button has been pressed and the result is:

1. Hughes (Lib)
2. Sheldon (ALP)
3. Bragg (Lib)
4. Ayres (ALP)
5. Davey (Nat, on Lib-Nat ticket)
6. Faruqi (Green)

Then came One Nation, Shooters, HEMP, Molan in tenth, Li (ALP), Lib Dems, CDP and the rest.  NSW has five new Senators with only Faruqi re-elected (Spender, Burston and Molan lost and Williams and Cameron retired.)

The Australian is ludicrously reporting Davey and Faruqi "pipping Senator Molan to the last spots" when in fact Molan was excluded three exclusions before that stage.  At this stage he was 331,923 votes behind Perin Davey (7%) but he would have fallen further behind on the exclusions of remaining candidates.

Molan's preferences (including votes he received from other BTL sources) split 71.5% to Davey, a rather large 20% to One Nation, 3.1% Shooters, 1.1% Greens, 0.8% HEMP, 3.5% exhaust.  Molan received only 9266 votes from all other sources so at minimum 14.5% of his own number 1 votes leaked to One Nation.  Neither Davey nor Faruqi reached quota, with the count stopping with Faruqi 188K ahead of McCulloch (One Nation), a gain of 11,198 compared to the original count.

Exhaust in the count was 5.6%, down from 7.3% effective (9.2% official) last time.


The result has been reported as 3 LNP, 1 ALP, 1 PHON, 1 Greens.

The order is

1. Scarr (LNP)
2. Green (ALP)
3. McDonald (LNP)
4. Roberts (ON)
5. Rennick (LNP)
6. Waters (Green)

Labor actually performed even worse on preferences than every model expected and were smashed by 2.8% compared to a starting 1.6%.  Exhaust was 3.9% compared to 4.2% last time.  Labor's preference performance was dreadful on a 4CP basis, topping the flows only from Labour DLP and Australian Workers Party, and barely beating exhaust.

One Nation got 46% of UAP preferences despite not being preferenced by UAP.  This put Malcolm Roberts over quota, creating a surplus that put Rennick over quota as well.  In fact once Palmer's preferences had been distributed the contest for the final seat was already over.

Fraser Anning candidates have received the most BTL last places in every state so far (haven't seen figures for SA) but Queensland is the only state where this prize has gone to the ticket leader and not the bottom of the ticket.

South Australia

1. Ruston (Lib)
2. Gallacher (ALP)
3. Fawcett (Lib)
4. Smith (ALP)
5. Hanson-Young (GRN) 
6. Antic (Lib)

As expected.  Exhaust was 3.2%, up from 2.0% last time and the only state so far with an increase.  One Nation finished seventh.  The final seat margin was 5.4%.


The Tasmanian result has been confirmed as:

1. Colbeck (Lib)
2. Brown (ALP)
3. Chandler (Lib)
4. McKim (Green)
5. Bilyk (ALP)
6. Lambie (JLN)

The split of votes in the Labor ticket between Bilyk and Singh enabled McKim to cross the line first in fourth place, passing quota on some preferences from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, although he was actually the weakest above-the-line performer on those.  At this stage the only remaining candidates in the "race" were Bilyk, Lambie, Lisa Singh (ALP), Tanya Denison (Lib #3), Kevin Morgan (UAP) and Matthew Stephen (PHON).  After McKim's election, Morgan was excluded followed by Denison and Singh.  Singh's votes elected both Bilyk and Lambie with Lambie beating Stephen by more than half a quota (several thousand more than her starting margin over One Nation.)  The exhaust rate (in both official and real terms) was just 1.9%, compared to 2.8% in both cases for 2016.  Only 12% of ballot papers left the count at any value (including greatly reduced), compared to 32% in 2016.

3.7% of all voters voted below the line 1-44.  This is up from 2.2% voting 1-58 in 2016.  The most common last placed candidate was Frank Falzon (FACN) who received 2049 (15.6%) #44s, narrowly shading Steve Mav with 1874.

Surprisingly, despite starting notionally behind Garland, Steve Mav overtook him, mainly on the preferences of fellow ungrouped candidates.  However Mav was next excluded.  Unfortunately the results have revealed serious problems with the current system for grouped independents, who get only a blank box above the line.  Although the Garland/Duncan group was placed last by only 1.7% of below the line voters who voted all the way, it was placed last by 20% of the 6884 voters who numbered all boxes above the line.  (There was remarkably little ideological skew among voters doing this.)  Worse, 6645 voters numbered all boxes bar one above the line, and in 81% of these cases it was the unnamed Garland group that was omitted.  Overall only 10.3% of ATL voters numbered the Garland group box at all, compared to FACN and CEC in the high teens and all other parties over 30% - this despite the Garland group being preferenced by both Labor and the Greens on their how-to-vote cards! There is no political logic to this; it can only be caused by voter confusion, and will have to be addressed in the future if there is to be any prospect for independents to succeed without creating front parties.

See also William Bowe's dissection of the result.


As expected:

1. Paterson (Lib)
2. Ciccone (ALP)
3. Hume (Lib)
4. Walsh (ALP)
5. Rice (Green)
6. Van (Lib)

Hinch was seventh, making Victoria One Nation's worst finish. Hinch steadily gained on One Nation and had passed them by the time of the exclusion of the Republican Party, who were way down the list.  However, One Nation and Hinch then passed each other back and forth, with the exclusion of Marshall (Labor) finally putting him over them for good.  (In this, ALP how to vote preferences helped, but he would have got over them anyway.) In all Hinch gained about 0.9% more through the count than One Nation did (3.86% to 2.97%) but still finished 5% behind the Liberals compared to a starting 4.5%.

Victoria had the highest exhaust rate of 7.0% (compared to 5.2% effective exhaust last time).

Western Australia

As expected:

1. Reynolds (Lib)
2. Dodson (ALP)
3. Brockman (Lib)
4. O'Sullivan (Lib)
5. Pratt (ALP)
6. Steele-John (Green)

The only interesting thing there is that O'Sullivan overtook Pratt from notionally 1% behind, however 1.4% of WA Nationals preferences could have had a bit to do with that.  Exhaust was 3.4%, down from 3.6% last time.

The distribution shows that Pratt started with a notional 15,254 vote lead over O'Sullivan after surpluses (assuming 100% flow from minor candidates).  This had reduced to 12,812 by the Nationals exclusion, which then reduced it to 598.   O'Sullivan then crossed quota on the Shooters exclusion with a lead of 1411 over Pratt, who then crossed on the next exclusion (Aus Christians). The HEMP exclusion put Steele-John over quota with a 5.8% margin over One Nation, who were again seventh.


  1. Anecdotally from my experience handing out how to vote cards on election day at Cascades, I can confirm that a number of voters came out after voting and told me they didn't put a number against Column O due to confusion about the blank box.

    Jeremy Buckingham ran a strong "Vote L" campaign in NSW (including producing a giant L to take around with him when campaigning) - perhaps Garland should have done a big Vote O campaign?

  2. I've heard reports from 3 separate polling booths that AEC officials specifically told voters that if they wanted to vote for Garland they would need to do so below the line.

    1. Ta; there were many similar reports from ACT.

  3. Looking at Qld, Kevin, assuming all BTL votes for each group stay loyally within the group (not quite realistic but simplifies things), LNP #3 and ON both have 0.72(+ or -) of a quota (0.72Q), Greens have 0.70Q, and Labor #2 has 0.58Q. Since there is a total of 1.3Qs of votes for the minor parties, there are theoretical possibilities that *any* 3 of those 4 could end up being the last 3 elected. We can safely assume that many HEMP and AJ prefs will go to the Greens and a few of the rest to Labor, but do we know enough about the likely prefs of the 5 next biggest - UAP, Katter, Anning's Nat Cons, SFF and Cory's Aust Cons to predict where they'll go? They're all kind-of right-wing parties (UAP maybe less so), and should logically go to LNP or ON, but the mad right do have a capacity for despising or hating each other and I think I read that a lot of UAP prefs in the Reps are going to Labor. Is there a chance that enough of their prefs will exhaust or go left so that *both* Ketter and Waters will creep ahead of Roberts or Rennick? What a shock that would be! I'm not really expecting it but I can see it as a theoretical possibility. BPT (button-press time) will be interesting.

    1. I covered this on the Queensland thread somewhat roughly and also see William Bowe's thread at . What we have been seeing of both Anning and UAP prefs in the races finished so far is a lot of them go to One Nation no matter what the how-to-vote cards say. The margins are close enough that one would not be totally certain in advance of the button being pressed but I don't think anyone who has looked at this seriously is giving Labor more than the most token chance. Roberts should bolt in, he'll probably be elected 4.

  4. Please note, the article 'Senate Reform Performance Review,' could use it's own review, in particular paragraph beginning, "Labour and the Greens...."

    1. There was no paragraph beginning "Labour and the Greens..." An error in the one beginning "Labor and the Greens", or alternatively "Labor and the Greens [..]" has been fixed, ta.