Counting and counting again, and again: @GuinevereHall on the #WAvotes

Call in the expert. Count von Count from Sesame Street.

Call in the expert. Count von Count from Sesame Street.

As I write this, a new election is to be held for the Western Australian Senate, the first time this has happened since 1907, when there was a re-vote for a single Senate position in South Australia.

How did it come to this?

The 2013 WA Senate election saw Labor’s Louise Pratt and the Palmer United Party’s Zhenya Dio Wang win the last two Senate spots.

However, this was challenged by The Greens’ Scott Ludlum and the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich, due to the difference of just 14 votes at a critical point in the count.

A recount was called and the new winners appeared to be Ludlam and Dropulich.

Unfortunately, during this recount it was revealed that 1370 ballot papers had gone missing.

The Court of Disputed Returns decreed that the entire election was void since those 1370 voters did not get to have their say.

So, in what is likely to be a very costly process, we, the voters of WA, get to try again.

Controversially, in the recount, the Sports Party, a minor party which only received 0.22 per cent of the primary vote, was elected into the 6th Senate spot, with what many voters felt was an opaque exchange of preferences and shady deals that were not understood by those voting above the line. This outraged many electors at the time and there was a call for an overhaul of the Senate electoral system

WA voters are historically conservative, and there seems to be a general apathy around having to recast our votes, with many believing that only the 1370 missing should have to vote again, although how we would tell who these people are is not discussed.

There seems to be a general feeling amongst voters that we will be more likely to vote below the line to try to avoid the election of micro parties.

Commentators believe there will be some slide away from the Coalition due to the ‘incumbency factor’ and the current displeasure with the WA state government.

As yet there is no indication whether we will have more, less, or different micro parties competing for our votes. Any new candidates or parties who want to nominate for this new election are able to do so. Certainly funding for this election is predicted to be low, perhaps meaning that electioneering and political advertising will be minimal.

Over the course of the next few weeks until the election I will report on the campaign advertising; who nominates; the feeling on the street; and I will also attempt to interview representatives of the parties in the mix for this historic Senate re-election.

Read Guinevere’s Tangney Seat Reports from the 2013 Federal Election.

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  1. @spottybalfour says

    Agree with everything except one small point: “Commentators believe there will be some slide away from the Coalition due to … the current displeasure with the WA state government”.

    I think that’s only ALP commentators who are trying to link Senator Pratt’s re election campaign to state issues like anti shark cull, infrastructure fail rather than to the policies of federal ALP, which largely are the same as at the election including offshore detention, children in detention, climate policy etc.

    Interesting because at the state election last year WA Labor were trying to distance themselves from Gillard by using the mantra of voters vote in state elections on state issues and conversely voters in federal elections only vote on federal issues. It doesn’t appear ALP has that view anymore.

    • Eva makowiecki says

      ALP commentators? Where are these ALP commentators? I think it’s the pollsters who are saying there might be a backlash against the Coalition Government. And they base their views on the polls they take.

      I also think while there are many areas of convergence between the major parties, you’ll still find that climate policy, labour relations, the NBN, education, industry support, etc., are policies that appear to differ quite markedly between the L/NP and Labor.

      There is nothing interesting about the fact that State Labor was distancing itself from the Feds last year. If Colin Barnett was facing an election, he probably wouldn’t want Tony Abbott (with low approval ratings) around either. And Western Australians reserve the right to punish Tony Abbott if Colin Barnett is unpopular over here.

      Hence, I think the Abbott Government is just very unlucky to have to face such an important poll so soon after the General Election. But who ever said politics was fair? Just ask Julia Gillard!

      • @spottybalfour says

        Pollsters are paid for by parties and the information released to the public is determined by the sponsor of the research.

        I think the ALP do not want a referendum on Abbott’s govt, focusing on federal issues, because that would bring Shorten under more scrutiny.

        For Senator Pratt to be re elected she’ll probably need to secure a larger part of the progressive vote than she did last year. That segment of the electorate, I would suggest, is as dismayed with ALP federally as it is with LNP. Hence ALP campaign seems to be focusing on State issues. (I assume that centre & right aren’t really going to move their respective votes).

        Anyway, we will know for sure over the next few weeks. :)

      • Eva Makowiecki says

        No real argument Spotty, but the public polls are generally paid for by newspapers, and to date the pollsters have resisted the urge to pre-determine the results. Internal party polling is generally not released to the public (it’s not usually good news).

        I think the poll will be determined by how many people turn out to vote – and that tends to favour the conservatives. Frankly, policy – either state or federal – is unlikely to play that much of a role. It’s too soon after the federal election – even with all the catastrophic jobs news.

  2. Gregory T says

    I think the theory that the votes were counted twice the first time around, is the best explanation.

    • The Insider says

      No Gregory, they went missing and were not counted twice in the first place or the discrepency woudl be higher. Mick Keelty found the reason. I spoke to scrutineers from the parties after both counts and only one parties scrutineers thought the second count was the correct count. Guess which party?