Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler


Election 2014: The Special Votes

We have a provisional result, and now await the official result after special votes are counted. Special votes are:

  • those cast overseas;
  • those cast on polling day by people voting outside their electorate;
  • those cast by people who enrolled after the printed electoral roll was closed;
  • those cast by people on the unpublished roll; and
  • those cast by people who think they’re on the roll, but aren’t (these votes don’t count).

The final result is due on October 4.

At the last election, I conducted a quick analysis of the provisional results to try to determine how the special votes might change the makeup of Parliament. I wasn't sure that the time whether it would work, but I was pleased with how accurate it was.

I have no particular reason to believe that the effect of special votes will, at this election, mirror the effect in the 2011 election. The advance votes certainly didn't. But we have little else to go on.

That said, adopting the same method I used last time, based solely on how special votes broke in 2011, along with the Electoral Commission’s estimate of the number of special votes at this election, I predict the following final result:

  Preliminary   Estimated  
National 48.06% 61 47.24% 61
Labour 24.69% 32 25.05% 32
Green 10.02% 13 10.50% 13
New Zealand First 8.85% 11 8.52% 11
Māori Party 1.29% 2 1.38% 2
ACT 0.69% 1 0.68% 1
United Future 0.22% 1* 0.21% 1*
Conservative 4.12% 0 3.92% 0
Internet MANA 1.26% 0 1.38% 0
    121   121

That's a pretty boring table, as it happens. If the projection holds then, unlike in 2011, it seems like there will be no change. No party does well enough on the specials to take a seat of another party.

In 2011, the Green Party did ~38% better during special votes than it did on the preliminary count, and the National Party did ~13% worse than on the night. That was enough for the Greens to take a seat off National. If the same happens this time, it won't be. For the Greens to gain a seat on the special votes this time, their support among special votes would have to be ~42% better, or National's ~16% worse (or some combination of the two). Could this happen? Sure. But based on the information we have, it's not nearly as likely this time 'round.

In 2011, the Greens were closer to get that extra seat that they are this election. They have more ground to make up this time, and no other party in contention historically does well enough on the Special votes to make up the gap they face either. History suggests there will be no change this election.

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