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The previous Australian federal election in 2016 was that rarest of beasts a double dissolution. As a result the next half-Senate election must take place by 18 May 2019[1] due to the expiry of the 3 year Senate terms, and is highly likely[2] to include a House election making it a “normal” election.

So. What does this mean for my Australian readers[3]?

Close of Rolls

The electoral rolls will be closing remarkably quickly, potentially in as little as 3 weeks.

I don’t think that the election will be called before the results of the NSW state election on 23 March are known, but I suppose the election could be called the next morning for a 27 April election with the writs issued on Monday 25 March. As per the AEC’s website this puts the close of rolls on Monday 1 April… which is only 23 days way.

The writs for an 18 May election could be issued on 15 April putting the close of rolls on 22 April… but that is Easter Monday. The AEC website is saying calendar days, but I think they have to allow for public holidays, in which case the writs will probably be issued earlier. In that case Thursday 11 April is likely, with the rolls closing by Thursday 18 April… which is only 33 40 days away.

EDIT 12/03/2019: I actually calculated the number of days to the issue of writs, not the close of rolls. The timeframes are still very tight. 

Given how tight these timeframes are I strongly suggest that you check your enrolment now. If you need to fix your enrolment, you can do that online here. Note that there are a number of special options that are not handled online, but the page I linked to makes those available.

Voting

I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. I am however going to remind people that:

  1. You can mess with the heads of the political parties that send you branded postal vote applications,
  2. That you $hould Choo$e Your Fir$t Preference Wi$ely; preferential voting and electoral funding are there for a reason, take advantage of it,
  3. It is much nicer to the long suffering AEC staff and scrutineers if you vote in person if you can.*
  4. E-voting is STILL a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad, idea. And thankfully we don’t have it.

* I stress that there are many valid reasons to need to use a declaration vote, and anyone that does need to absolutely should. However as that linked post describes, there’s a lot of extra work in stressful conditions for AEC staff and scrutineers associated with declaration votes. So, please, if you can, be nice to the people suffering weeks of sleep deprivation and don’t add too much extra work to them.

Also, voting in person means that you can usually get a Democracy Sausage. And who doesn’t love a good Democracy Sausage?

Counting

Due to the vagaries of postal systems (see link on Declaration votes above) the counting will still take some time to resolve, particularly in marginal seats. Much of the delay in those seats will be due to close, independent, scrutiny of basically everything the local AEC Divisional Office does by the candidates and their parties.

That scrutiny is a fundamental part of why Australian elections are sound, why errors are detected and resolved quickly. This part of why E-voting is such a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea.

However you can track the count in your seat on the AEC’s website – there’ll be a Virtual Tally Room which breaks the counts down in all sorts of ways.

I will note that there are a couple of things in the count that really shouldn’t matter as much as they seem to in the minds of the media:

  1. The national two party preferred total. Irrelevant to who forms government, that’s controlled by the number of seats, and not winning the national 2PP does not in any way make for an illegitimate government
  2. Personal votes for Senators. This one annoys me enough that I’ll probably repeat my analysis from last election at some point.

Conclusion

It’s coming fast, be ready. Happy to take questions, comments, queries as usual. You know where to find the comments box.

[1] This is essentially a logistical constraint on how long it will take to resolve the Senate vote and return the writs in time for the new Senators to take their seats on 1 July 2019 (which is the constitutional constraint).

[2] As noted by the always excellent Antony Green here, the House term could run to a 2 November 2019 election date. However the last separate House election was in 1972, and governments have avoided them ever since.

[3] All three of you. Waves at you. You know who you are. 🙂