In Werriwa, the percentage of informal ballots due to scribbles/marks on the ballot (without valid preferences stated) doubled from 10.40 percent in at the 2004 federal election, to 21.74 percent at the 2005 by-election.
This category of informality increased significantly between 2001 and 2004 at the Federal level (6.49 percent to 14.27 percent), and at the State level for New South Wales (5.49 percent to 9.62 percent). During the by-election, approximately 22 percent of informal votes were invalid due to "Scribbles and Marks".
An analysis was conducted of the ballots informal due to "marks/scribbles" for the by-election to examine more closely the types of scribbles and marks that rendered them invalid. The ballots were sorted into the following categories:
The analysis revealed the following overall percentages as a total of the number of ballots invalid within the general category of "scribbles/marks":
|Type of mark||Percentage of total informality|
|(a) Line or X through whole or most of ballot||25.09%|
|(b) Same symbol, mark or number in all boxes||22.12%|
|(c) Non profane phrases/comments||6.11%|
|(e) "Waste of Time/Money"||1.68%|
|(f) Write-in Candidate||2.83%|
|(g) Profanity/criticism towards particular candidates or politicians||4.16%|
|(h) First choice is clear, but rest of ballot is invalid/incomplete||1.06%|
|(i) Comment / phrases protesting no liberal candidate||2.96%|
|(j) Expressly stated informal||2.30%|
|(k) Miscellaneous – everything else||24.42%|
The analysis indicates that scribbles/marks are an expression of the voter to render the ballot informal intentionally. It also indicates that informality levels may escalate when a major political party is not represented in the choice of candidates on a ballot. This may manifest either through explicit comments on behalf of the voter or through other marks rendering the ballot informal. If category (a) and (i) are combined in table 6 this represents 28% of the total informal vote cast.
The complete breakdown of votes and categories by polling station is listed in Appendix A.