A Brief Analysis of the
2011 Palerang Council By-Election
Following the format of previous election count analyses, here’s a brief run-down on the results of the May 2011 by-election. The final numbers, extracted from spreadsheets provided by the NSW Electoral Commission were as follows:
|Polling Place||Ben Gleeson||Peter Harrison||Mark Horan||Garth Morrison||John McGrath||Formal||Informal||Total|
|Declared Institutions/ Prepoll||273||344||459||85||83||1,244||48||1,292|
|% Formal Declaration||20.4%||28.9%||35.6%||7.3%||7.8%||100.0%||3.8%|
There were 10,019 residents on the electoral roll, making the turn out for the by-election 75.2%.
With no absolute majority for any candidate, the count proceeded to preference distribution.
As the candidate who received the least number of primary votes, John McGrath was the first candidate excluded.
Preference Distribution on exclusion of John McGrath
|Ben Gleeson||Pete Harrison||Mark Horan||Garth Morrison||Exhausted|
As the candidate who received the least number of votes to this point, Garth Morrison was the next candidate excluded.
Preference Distribution on exclusion of Garth Morrison
|Ben Gleeson||Pete Harrison||Mark Horan||Exhausted|
As the candidate who received the least number of votes to this point, Ben Gleeson was the next candidate excluded.
Preference Distribution on exclusion of Ben Gleeson
|Pete Harrison||Mark Horan||Exhausted|
At this point, Pete Harrison was declared elected.
As usual, there are a few observations to make from this result.
As expected, the individual candidates generally polled best in their respective back yards, Ben and Mark in Braidwood, Pete in Wamboin/Bungendore (residents in the eastern parts of Wamboin and Bywong tend to vote in Bungendore), and Garth in Bungendore.
John’s result appears consistent with the fact that he stood on a party platform, in that he drew a more consistent level of support, albeit low across the whole shire, than did the other candidates. The preferences of those who voted for John also reflected this fact, with their being fairly evenly distributed.
The next point of note relates to the preferences indicated by those who voted primarily for Garth or Ben. Both Garth’s and Ben’s How-to-Vote cards recommended giving second preference to Pete. In Garth’s case however, 50% of the voters offered no second preference, and only around 25% gave their preference according to his How-to-Vote card.
It gets a little more difficult to make definitive comments after the first couple of preference counts, because it’s no longer obvious which ballots are expiring because no second preference was offered, and which are expiring because they are already preference votes but with no further preferences remaining. With this in mind, in Ben’s case, about 34% offered no further preference (i.e. the ballots expired), while only around 38% followed his How-to-Vote card and gave a second preference vote to Pete.
Of course, there is no way of knowing how many voters followed the How-to-Vote cards and how many would have voted that way anyway. The significant number of voters who offered no preferences, 40–50% across the board, is nonetheless consistent with results from previous local government elections.
The big picture from this by-election, however, remains the same as the last. In the 2009 by-election, the ‘progressive’ candidates scored around 70% of the formal vote, while the ‘conservative’ candidate scored around 30%. In the latest by-election, ignoring John’s vote which appears to have been made along party lines (in a sense he straddled the progressive/conservative fence anyway), we once again saw around 70% of the vote directed towards the ‘progressive’ candidates, and 30% towards the (same) ‘conservative’ candidate.