Thursday, April 1, 2021

WA 2021 Button Presses And Final Results Comments

 I've just taken a brief break from my extensive coverage of the snap Tasmanian election to return to the 2021 WA landslide because button presses may be imminent - the WA Electoral Commission says buttons will be pressed in the three smallest regions Mining and Pastoral, Agricultural and South-West today from 3 pm WA time.  That said there have been varying reports on social media as to whether this will happen or not.  If the elections are really approaching button press status then it is disappointing that the WA Electoral Commission site does not include the below-the-line vote totals in order for election-watchers to revise our expectations and I hope this will be improved in the future.  

I have had no time to add to what was already up on my postcount thread, which I consider to have been largely overtaken by Antony Green's detailed coverage.  In short no doubt has been raised about Agricultural as 3 Labor 2 National 1 Liberal, and expectations in Mining and Pastoral have settled on 4 Labor 1 Liberal 1 Daylight Savings (of which I will have more to say if that occurs) while the last two seats in South-West (beyond 3 Labor 1 Liberal) are a multi-party mess with about five parties having been in contention at some stage.  I'll add comments on the results when they are up and later when time permits I will also be adding some summary comments on the Lower House final results.  


Antony Green has tweeted that the ABC Calculator got it right and Legalise Cannabis and the Nationals have won the last two seats.  A ridiculous result with Legalise Cannabis on about 0.15 of a quota (2.1%) beating four other tickets with higher votes or remainders, and also with the Nationals on about 0.4 of a quota beating Labor who may have finished with about a .9 of quota excess (though we need to wait for final totals there).  Labor has diddled itself out of its own seat by failing to remove Group Ticket Voting unless malapportionment went as well.  

Mining and Pastoral

It has happened!  In the perfect storm of malapportionment and Group Ticket Voting, the mighty Daylight Saving Party, which got 98 votes in the region, has spiralled its way home on about 1/16300th of the state vote, surely the most ridiculously disproportionate of all the joke wins in Group Ticket Voting history.  With a name like Wilson Tucker how can you lose.  Compounding the absurdity of Tucker's election, he has won in a district that actually hates daylight savings, his party had no functional website less than four years old that I could find, and he currently lives in the USA.  In this case the victim is the Nationals, who don't deserve the seat anyway because this district is so malapportioned that it should really be electing one member not six.  


I've seen comments by Antony Green that this is done, with the expected result.

Next week we will get results in the three Metro seats, in which the main doubt is Legalise Cannabis vs Labor in East Metro.  There is also some doubt about the Greens vs Labor in South Metro.  

East Metro

Antony Green has tweeted that Legalise Cannabis have won a second seat, coming from about 2.5% to win a seat that would have deservedly gone to Labor.  This is the third seat won by preference harvesting with Legalise Cannabis picking up two of them to have 5.6% of the parliament off just under 2% of the vote.  

South Metro

The Greens have won their sole seat as expected, giving them one seat from around 6% of the vote statewide.  

North Metro

No surprises here - 4 Labor 2 Liberal.

Distorted Results And Random Winners

The following table shows the statewide vote shares, the average vote share per seat for each party, the number of seats each party won, and the percentage of seats each party won.

The Labor and Liberal parties have again won a similar share of seats to what their vote share suggests.  However, below that it's a mess.  The Greens with 6% of the vote and the Daylight Saving Party with 0.23% have one seat each.  Legalise Cannabis and the Nationals polled fewer votes between them than the Greens but have five seats to the Greens' one.  Daylight Saving are overrepresented by a factor of 12, but it could have easily been some other micro-party instead.  

The %ave column shows that the Nationals' overrepresentation is mainly because of malapportionment.  

Had the election been a single 36-seat statewide election, it is likely on these vote shares that Labor would have won 22 seats, the Liberals 7, the Greens 2, Nationals, LC, AC, SFF and ON 1 apiece.  The parties winning undeserved seats on that basis are the Nationals (2), Legalise Cannabis and Daylight Saving. The parties missing out on seats they deserve are the Greens, One Nation, the Shooters and Christians (1 apiece).  The Nationals' undeserved seats arise from malapportionment, and LC and DSP from Group Ticket preference harvesting.

Of course it's a majority Labor parliament, so this will not affect the passage of legislation unless Labor suffers major defections.  But it shows the problems that should be fixed for the future.

The Parliament had the opportunity to simply abolish group ticket voting.  In these cases the results would probably have been 24-5 Labor, 7 Liberal, 4 National and 0-1 Green, so Labor cost themselves seats by not supporting this.  Labor and the Liberals would have been over-represented as a result of the division of the state into regions disadvantaging micro-parties, and the Nationals would have got three bonus seats from malapportionment.  The Greens would be disadvantaged and perhaps even eliminated by their poor vote.  However there would not have been any undeserved joke wins by preference harvesters such as Daylight Saving.  Such parties are not really accountable to voters since their future fates are determined by luck and what kind of preference deals they can get.  We saw this again in this election with the two undeserving Group Ticket winners from 2017, Aaron Stonehouse and Rick Mazza, both defeated, continuing the pattern of winners from low primary party votes being usually not re-elected in later GTV elections.

Western Australia should scrap Group Ticket Voting and malapportionment, but there is simply no reason why it needs to keep a regional Upper House system that would then disadvantage small parties with reasonable vote shares.  One possible solution is to copy the half-in half-out model with above the line or below the line preferences allowed, as in NSW and SA and have elections for 18 MLCs every second election.  I like this system a lot because the small quota gives micro-parties a realistic chance, though one downside of this is that MLCs would get eight-year terms.  For this election the winners of the 18 seats would probably have been 12 Labor 3 Liberal 1 Green and either two micros (perhaps LC and AC, but Shooters and ON would also be a chance) or a fourth Liberal and a micro.  To avoid eight year terms, another option would be to split the state into two arbitrary regions of 18.

Another proposal that I have seen suggested (Pollbludger or TallyRoom comments section) is to lump the three current regional/rural divisions, keep the three metro regions, and elect nine MLCs from each region.  By my count this would have elected 24 Labor, 7 Liberal, 4 Green and 1 National off the votes cast, but over time unnecessary minor parties would merge or give up, perhaps giving parties like the Shooters more chance of a seat in the regional division.  There is a common trend that the Greens do well in regionalised systems that get rid of Group Ticket Voting, because they tend to poll a substantial vote everywhere, but in this case they would need the quota to be taken down from one-seventh to one-tenth (as in this system) to reap the benefit.  

Comments on the distributions

In South-West, the key issues were whether Labor could reach four quotas using BTL votes, and whether Legalise Cannabis would be excluded before the Greens and Shooters.  Legalise Cannabis were .05 quotas ahead of the Greens (0.7%) when the Greens were excluded so this wasn't particularly close.  Labor started at 3.91 quotas and only recovered .03 quotas in total from below the lines (including a slight loss to leakage), most of that coming from the Greens.

In East Metro, the major issue was whether Legalise Cannabis could overturn the calculator position in which it was narrowly excluded by WAP.  The calculator's margin of exclusion was only 0.044 quotas and Legalise Cannabis actually improved its primary vote by 0.01 quotas compared to the calculator (WAP by 0.002), so LC might have won even had all votes been ATLs (I haven't fully checked).  In any case the preference flows from excluded micro-parties that had preferenced WAP ranged from 87% to 95% of their primary votes, increasing LC's lead.  LC got over this hurdle by 0.014 quotas (691 votes) and then survived being nearly caught by the Greens, in that case by 0.013 quotas (622 votes).  Each margin was about 0.2% of the overall vote, so very lucky.

In South Metro, the Greens were losing on the calculator by virtually nothing (60 votes) but the final primaries were .05 quotas weaker for Labor and .031 quotas stronger for the Greens, so as expected the Greens won, in the end by around .1 of a quota (not close).

In Mining and Pastoral, Wilson Tucker's closest brush with elimination was at the exclusion of IND (Kelly).  At this point three candidates were elected with Tucker 18th of 22 remaining candidates.  Tucker was 48 votes ahead of elimination.  Upon receiving Kelly's preferences Tucker's snowball commenced and he overtook 16 candidates to be elected fifth.  Labor actually started below four quotas here but just reached their fourth quota on the exclusion of the Greens before Tucker was elected.  At this point the Greens preferences went to Tucker (alternatives were Labor, Liberal, Shooters, Nationals).  Had the Greens preferenced Labor, most of Labor's surplus would have gone to the Shooters (who Labor had preferenced ahead of Tucker) and not enough would have gone to Tucker to save him from being next out the door, resulting in the Shooters winning instead.  (This is a provisional assessment as these counts are very complex!)

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