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Record early vote suggests a minority will vote on election day

November 24, 2022 - 09:36 -- Admin

With two days of pre-poll voting to come, the statistics so far suggest that a clear majority of voters will cast their ballot before election day.

The VEC is publishing daily updates on the number of people voting at pre-poll, applying for postal votes and returning postal votes. Antony Green has been maintaining an excellent blog post running through the daily figures, with charts comparing the figures to their 2018 equivalents, so I won’t duplicate that work.

Applications for postal votes closed overnight with 586,208 total, up from about 385,000 in 2018. By my estimate that’s an increase from 9.3% of enrolment to 13.3% of enrolment, or a 43% increase.

There have been 1.37 million pre-poll votes cast so far, or 31.2% of enrolment, compared to 970,000 at this point in 2018 (23.4% of enrolment). Almost 420,000 votes were cast in the last two days of pre-poll in 2018, for a total of 1.39 million. Comparing like with like, that’s a 33.3% increase so far.

It’s also worth noting that, while there has been a larger number of postal vote applications, they seem to be returning more slowly. Antony reported earlier this week that the proportion of postal votes returned so far has halved, and it is even lower as a percentage of enrolled voters. So it is possible there has been some change in postal voting behaviour with more people requesting an application but eventually voting using another method – or they may just come in later.

We can use these increases to project how many votes will be cast in each of these categories, as a proportion of enrolment. Note we don’t know how many people will vote, so we can’t calculate it as a proportion of votes cast, so these numbers include the 9.8% of enrolled people who did not vote.

Vote category
2018 share
2022 projection

Ordinary votes
43.5%

Pre-poll votes
33.1%
44.2%

Postal votes
6.8%
9.7%

Absent votes
6.0%

Other votes
0.6%

Did not vote
9.8%

This projection suggests that those voting early won’t just make up a majority of votes, but a clear majority of enrolled voters.

Indeed if turnout remains steady on 90%, pre-poll votes will make up almost half of all votes without including postal votes. And if these numbers prove to be accurate, this leaves just 36% of enrolment left to vote on election day, down from 49.5% in 2018.