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Herbert Heads For Recount With ALP 8 Votes Ahead

11.58pm – The Second Turnbull Government was sworn in today but the Queensland seat of Herbert remains undecided, with the ALP now back in the lead by 8 votes and a recount looming.

A two-party swing of 6.17% has produced a virtual tie in Herbert. At the close of counting on Monday, the ALP had regained the lead it lost on July 13 and was ahead by 8 votes, 44,184 to 44,176.

The AEC website tonight shows 574 outstanding votes to count. These include 61 absent votes, 316 provisionals, 183 declaration pre-poll and 14 postal votes. 68.8% of provisional votes are being rejected as ineligible, so the actual number of uncounted votes is probably closer to 370.

Rumours online today suggested the AEC will move straight to a recount, rather than proceed to the formal distribution of preferences. A recount is automatically triggered if the winning margin is less than a hundred.

The Turnbull government has a certain 76 seats, an absolute majority of one on the floor of the House of Representatives. Winning Herbert would give it 77. If the ALP wins, it will have 69 seats.

In the South Australian seat of Hindmarsh, the ALP has stretched its lead to 856 votes, 249 ahead of where it was at the end of last week.

House of Representatives – Undecided Seats
No. Seat Margin
(Fri 15/7)
(Mon 18/7)
Incumbent Party 2PP % Main Opponent 2PP % Swing %
Ewen Jones (LNP)
Cathy O’Toole (ALP)
6.17 to ALP

UPDATE: The Australian Electoral Commission has announced that it will conduct a recount in Herbert, without first proceeding to a full distribution of preferences.

Statement from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Recount in the Division of Herbert

The Divisional Returning Officer for Herbert has exercised the powers available under Section 279 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to conduct a recount for Herbert.

The recount will proceed without completing a full distribution of preferences for the original count which would otherwise occur now.

The Divisional Returning Officer has made this decision after judging that the margin between the two leading candidates, after a full distribution of preferences, would remain firmly in the scope of a requirement for a recount. Any margin less than a hundred votes is cause for an automatic recount.

At the conclusion of the Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count, Ms Cathy O’Toole, Australian Labor Party led Mr Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party of Queensland, by a margin of 8 votes.

The recount will involve:

  • a count of all first preference votes for candidates, and a re-examination of informal votes
  • a two candidate preferred (TCP) count, and
  • a full distribution of preferences. This is a final count of all formal votes, and serves to check the TCP margin and provide the final outcome.

The recount will commence on Thursday 21 July in Townsville and is expected to take approximately two weeks.

Proceeding directly to conducting a recount will help ensure that the AEC provides clarity on the result for the candidates and the electors of Herbert as soon as possible.

A number of other administrative processes will be finalised during this time for the Division of Hebert for the 2016 federal election.

The AEC has until 8 August 2016 to return the writs.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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