The national informality rate at the 2010 House of Representatives election was 5.55 per cent. This is the highest informality rate recorded since 19844, and represents a substantial increase from the 3.95 per cent recorded at the 2007 House of Representatives election.
Table 3 below shows informality rates by state and territory for House of Representatives elections since 1983. Table 4 shows the numbers of formal and informal ballots (and informality rates) for states and territories since 2001.
Note: Some figures in this table have been revised to correct errors in previously published reports.
(a) Informal votes as a proportion of all votes cast.
(b) Prior to 1984, counts of informal votes included missing and discarded ballots. Discarded ballot papers are those found inside the polling place but not in a ballot box at the close of polling. Missing ballot papers are those which have been removed from the polling place altogether. Counts of missing ballot papers are calculated by subtracting counts of discarded, formal and informal ballot papers from the total number issued.
Source: AEC 1984a-g; AEC 1986a-g; AEC 1988a-g; AEC 1990a-g; AEC 1999; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.
|2001 House of Representatives election|
|Formal (no.)||3 788 460||2 955 015||2 106 252||1 084 795||937 707||308 018||202 666||91 161||11 474 074|
|Informal (no.)||217 169||122 575||106 995||56 133||55 040||10 856||7 386||4 436||580 590|
|Informal (%) (a)||5.42||3.98||4.83||4.92||5.54||3.40||3.52||4.64||4.82|
|2004 House of Representatives election|
|Formal (no.)||3 848 694||3 011 169||2 200 888||1 097 073||941 644||316 123||208 626||90 915||11 715 132|
|Informal (no.)||250 807||128 712||119 829||61 614||55 458||11 769||7 431||4 231||639 851|
|Informal (%) (a)||6.12||4.10||5.16||5.32||5.56||3.59||3.44||4.45||5.18|
|2007 House of Representatives election|
|Formal (no.)||4 059 486||3 169 028||2 378 853||1 177 537||988 152||325 142||223 581||98 213||12 419 992|
|Informal (no.)||211 519||106 592||87 708||47 152||38 830||9 796||5 289||3 936||510 822|
|Informal (%) (a)||4.95||3.25||3.56||3.85||3.78||2.92||2.31||3.85||3.95|
|2010 House of Representatives election|
|Formal (no.)||4 009 318||3 180 184||2 384 179||1 204 001||979 949||327 152||223 697||93 883||12 402 363|
|Informal (no.)||293 763||149 699||137 395||60 967||56 565||13 791||10 926||6 198||729 304|
|Informal (%) (a)||6.83||4.50||5.45||4.82||5.46||4.04||4.66||6.19||5.55|
(a) Informal votes as a percentage of all votes cast.
Source: AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.
The main method by which electors cast their vote is by attending a polling place on election day and casting an ordinary vote. However, the Electoral Act also provides for a number of alternative methods of voting – these methods are collectively called 'declaration' voting because the elector must complete a declaration that he or she is entitled to vote.
While some informal ballots within declaration envelopes may be excluded at preliminary scrutiny 5 and therefore not included in counts, informality rates for pre-poll or postal votes have historically been lower than informality rates for ordinary votes. Informality rates by vote type for the 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections are shown in Table 5 below.
As has been the case for previous years, the highest levels of informality at the 2010 House of Representatives election were for provisional votes (7.36 per cent of all votes cast) and absent votes (6.01 per cent). Levels of informality increased for every vote type between the 2007 and 2010 elections, with the largest increases being for ordinary votes 6 (up 1.78 percentage points to 5.96 per cent) and absent votes (up 1.61 percentage points to 6.01 per cent).
|Vote type||House of Representatives election|
Note: Figures for 2004 in this table have been revised to correct errors in the AEC Research Report Number 11, Analysis of Informal Voting, House of Representatives 2007 Election.
Source: AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.
As was the case at the 2007 federal election, the 10 Commonwealth electoral divisions with the highest rates of informal voting at the 2010 House of Representatives election were all in Sydney. Table 6 compares informality rates for the top and bottom 10 divisions in 2010 with the informality rates for these divisions at the 2001, 2004 and 2007 House of Representatives elections. Figures presented in this table relating to the proportion of the population with lower levels of English language are discussed later.
The top 10 divisions (and their respective informality rates) were:
Eight of these divisions were also among the top 10 informality divisions in 2007, while nine were in the top 10 informality divisions in 2004.
|State||Division||Informal % 2001||Informal % 2004||Informal % 2007||Informal % 2010||2006 Census population who speak English 'not well' or 'not at all' (a)|
|Divisions with highest informality rates in 2010|
|NSW||Blaxland * ^ †||9.78||10.70||9.49||14.06||10.7||3|
|NSW||Fowler * ^ †||12.75||9.11||7.67||12.83||15.9||1|
|NSW||Watson * ^ †||7.52||9.10||9.05||12.80||11.7||2|
|NSW||Chifley * ^ †||9.20||10.10||7.99||11.16||3.6||30|
|NSW||McMahon (b) * ^ †||8.99||9.24||7.73||10.84||8.5||5|
|NSW||Werriwa * ^ †||8.51||7.98||6.53||10.35||4.0||27|
|NSW||Reid * ^ †||11.08||11.71||7.57||8.80||9.5||4|
|NSW||Parramatta * ^||6.21||8.53||6.56||8.65||7.1||13|
|Divisions with lowest informality rates in 2010|
|NSW||New England ^ †||1.97||2.77||2.88||3.54||0.2||142|
|Vic.||Melbourne Ports *||3.26||3.40||2.16||3.25||2.3||45|
|Vic.||Goldstein * †||2.77||3.40||2.42||3.13||1.8||57|
|Qld||Ryan * †||2.86||3.80||2.14||2.87||0.8||84|
|Vic.||Higgins ^ †||2.68||2.76||2.57||2.80||2.5||42|
|Vic.||Kooyong * ^ †||2.57||2.90||2.10||2.78||2.3||46|
* Division was included in this category in 2007.
^ Division was included in this category in 2004.
† Division was included in this category in 2001.
(a) Refer to discussion. Proportions and rankings have been calculated based on the proportion of persons in the division who, in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, indicated that they did not speak English well, or did not speak English at all. A rank of 1 represents the division recording the highest proportion of the population with low English proficiency, while a rank of 150 represents the division with the lowest proportion of the population with low English proficiency.
(b) The division of Prospect was re-named 'McMahon' on 22 December 2009. Figures for 2001, 2004 and 2007 refer to Prospect.
Source: AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b; Nelson 2010a, Tables 1a and 21a.
A map highlighting the 10 divisions with the highest informality rates in 2010 is provided at Figure 1, while Appendix C lists the 2010 informality rates for all divisions.
Source: AEC 2010b.
Figure 2 compares proportions of static polling places according to the ranges of their informality rates at the 1984, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections. It shows that about one in five static polling places in 2010 (19.2 per cent) recorded informality rates between four and five per cent of all votes cast. A similar proportion (18.3 per cent) recorded informality rates between five and six per cent of all votes cast.
While the ranges of informality rates recorded by polling places in the 2010 election were similar to those recorded in the 2004 election, the 2007 election had substantially higher proportions of polling places with informality rates between three and four per cent, while the 1984 election had a noticeably higher proportion of polling places with informality rates over eight per cent of votes cast. Appendix D lists all static polling places at the 2010 House of Representatives election where the informality rate was greater than or equal to 10 per cent, as well as the total number of votes cast at these polling places.
(a) Excludes static polling places where less than 100 votes in total were cast. In 2010 includes ordinary votes cast at pre-poll voting centres.
Source: AEC 1984a–g; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.
4. The number of informal votes at the 1984 House of Representatives election was larger than at any previous election. Party scrutineers at counting centres reported that many electors had recorded a single preference and then stopped, rather than recording consecutive preferences for every candidate on the ballot paper. It was assumed that this could have arisen from electors misunderstanding a television advertisement associated with the introduction of above the line voting in the Senate (AEC 1985, p.1).
5. Preliminary scrutiny is the process where a voter's declaration envelope is checked for a range of requirements that need to be met to allow the declaration envelope to be opened and the vote within admitted to the count. Requirements vary by vote type, but include that the elector is enrolled and that the declaration vote envelope has been appropriately signed and witnessed.
6. Excluding ordinary votes cast at pre-poll voting centres.