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Seven quirks of the state election


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With the dust settling on the state election, we explore some of the quirks of the result – from the “own goal” by the Nick Xenophon group, to the favourite term of abuse scrawled by voters on ballot papers.

The Xenophon group probably cost itself a seat

It looks as though the Xenophon group cost itself a seat in the Legislative Council when it opposed the Greens’ optional preferential voting bill on the last day of sitting in 2013.

Greens leader Mark Parnell says that on his calculations the bill’s provisions – which would have allowed voters to indicate as many or as few preferences as they liked “above the line” – would have probably seen an extra Xenophon group candidate elected at the expense of Family First.

The bill was supported by the Government in the upper house, going down by just one vote – that of Xenophon-aligned MLC John Darley.

The exquisite irony is that his staffer, Connie Bonaros, was the one likely to have been elected.

She was seen consulting with Darley just before he voted “no” on that now fateful day in December.

Corflutes might not work

The only candidate who refused to put election posters on public property increased his vote.

In fact, Labor member for Croydon Mick Atkinson now has the safest Labor seat in South Australia.

His posters were only displayed on private property – the homes and businesses of supporters.

There is a theory in Labor that this means the corflutes have greater credibility and thus greater effect. It also means the posters are concentrated in back streets, which might convey the message that the member is a “true local”.

The power of incumbency

Labor’s Grace Portolesi lost her seat – but she was defeated only in three of her Hartley electorate’s 11 polling booths.

She won the two-party preferred vote in every booth apart from Kensington Gardens, Magill and Tranmere. Unfortunately for her, she was comprehensively thrashed in each of these polling places.

However, the result does show the power of incumbency.

In the booth of Newton, she won the two-party preferred vote 55.2 per cent to the Liberals’ 44.8 per cent.

The neighbouring seat of Morialta, held by the Liberals’ John Gardner, also has a booth in Newton (although they obviously serve different, but nearby, areas). There, the Liberals won the two-party preferred vote 55.3 per cent to 44.7 – an almost mirror image result.

When neighbouring suburbs’ voting patterns vary so widely, it shows how difficult it is to redraw electoral boundaries to meet the Electoral Act’s “fairness” test.

The loneliest place for Libs

Liberal Steven Griffiths had a very healthy victory in his Yorke Peninsula seat of Goyder.

But there was one polling booth where he was very unpopular.

The tiny Point Pearce Mobile booth registered a single vote for the affable Griffiths.

The loneliest place for Laborites

By contrast, you could shoot a cannon through some of the pubs on the Eyre Peninsula and not hit a Labor voter.

A whopping 93.8 per cent of voters in Darke Peak, in the centre of the peninsula, voted Liberal in the seat of Flinders.

In raw terms, four people in the town gave their first preference to Labor.

I’ll bet the locals know exactly who they are.

Goodwood is full of Lefties

Labor’s candidate in Unley, Lara Golding, was beaten everywhere except Parkside, where she scraped in, and Goodwood – where she won a healthy 56.1 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.

The seat of Ashford also shares the Goodwood booth.

There, Labor MP Steph Key had her best result, picking up 63.7 per cent of the two-party preferred.

It’s ok to write abuse on the ballot paper

In South Australia you can write messages on your ballot paper and – as long as you’ve marked the boxes correctly – your vote is still valid.

According to scrutineers, many people take the opportunity to write messages as they exercise their democratic rights.

Our straw poll shows that “wankers” was the most commonly used term this year, closely followed by “liars”.


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