Both the Labor Government and the Federal Opposition should take note of the Australian Electoral Commission’s report on the 2010 general election which resulted in the formation of a minority government because the national ballot produced no clear winner.
According to this report there has been a marked increase in ballot papers which represent a form of protest or unwillingness to support any political party or candidate, along with an apparent rise in the donkey vote.
* The 2010 House of Representatives election saw a substantial increase in the proportion of blank ballots (from 20.0 per cent of all informal ballots at the 2007 House of Representatives election to 28.9 per cent in 2010), with smaller increases in the proportions of ballots with ticks and crosses (from 9.9 per cent to 11.8 per cent) and scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks (from 14.2 per cent to 16.9 per cent). The proportion of number ‘1’ only ballots decreased slightly (from 30.1 per cent of all informal ballots in 2007 to 27.8 per cent in 2010), while there was a more substantial decrease in the proportion of ballots with non-sequential numbering (from 17.9 per cent to 9.2 per cent).
* While more than a quarter of all informal votes cast in each state and territory were blank, blank ballots still comprise less than two (1.60) per cent of all votes cast. The highest proportions of blank ballots were cast by voters in Tasmania (34.1 per cent of all informal ballots) and South Australia (32.4 per cent). These also recorded the highest proportions of blank ballots for the 2007 House of Representatives election (29.3 and 26.9 per cent, respectively).
* Nationally, the rate of blank ballots doubled between the 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections, from 0.79 per cent of all votes cast in 2007 to 1.60 per cent of all votes cast in 2010. The states with the highest rates of blank ballots were New South Wales (1.84 per cent of all votes cast) and South Australia (1.77 per cent), while the lowest rates of blank ballots were cast by voters in the Australian Capital Territory (1.39 percent of all votes cast) and Tasmania (1.38 per cent).
* This was also the first federal election since informal ballot paper surveys began where the proportion of blank ballots was higher than the proportion of number '1' only ballots.
* As it is not possible to determine the true intent of voters casting informal ballots, the following analysis refers to assumed unintentional and assumed intentional informality. ■ Ballot papers with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter had been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal. In other words, it is assumed that all voters completing ballot papers in these categories intended to cast a formal vote. ■ All other informal ballots (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal. In other words, it is assumed that all voters casting ballots papers in these categories intended to vote informally.
* The highest proportions of assumed unintentionally informal votes were cast by voters in New South Wales (58.8 per cent of all informal ballots) and the Northern Territory (54.8 per cent). The highest proportions of assumed intentionally informal ballots were cast by voters in Tasmania (64.7 per cent of all informal ballots) and Victoria (57.5 per cent). As shown in Figure 3 and Table 10 on the following page, the rate of assumed unintentional informal voting increased from 2.47 per cent of all votes cast in the 2007 House of Representatives election to 2.85 per cent of all votes cast in the 2010 House of Representatives election.