Analysis of Informal Voting, House of Representatives, 2010 Federal Election: Appendix B

Updated: 30 May 2013

Explanation of informal categories in the 2010 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey

While it is not possible to describe all of the types of informal votes that could be encountered by AEC divisional office staff completing the survey, informal ballots were allocated to the following categories using the explanations and coding notes as a guide.

Category A: Totally blank

These ballot papers are TOTALLY BLANK, and have no other significant deliberate marks or scribble on them. Ballots which might have some small marks (e.g. a dot in one square), but are otherwise blank would also be included in this category (i.e. where it can reasonably be assumed that the intent of the voter was to submit a blank ballot).

Coding notes

Ballot papers that have no numbers or other marks recorded within the squares, but have scribble, slogans or other protest vote marks (e.g. illustrations, candidate names crossed out) elsewhere on the ballot paper are to be placed in Category F.

Category B: Incomplete numbering

Ballot papers within Category B are sequentially numbered from number '1' onwards, but have two or more squares left blank.

Coding notes

If the ballot paper is sequentially numbered from '1' onwards, contains two or more blank squares, and includes any other marks or slogans (including voter identification), the paper will remain in Category B (and the relevant subcategory).

Subcategories B–1 to B–9

Subcategories within Category B are used to specify the number of squares completed on the ballot paper. Since the maximum number of candidates recorded for a division in the 2010 House of Representatives election was 11, there may be up to nine subcategories (B–1 to B–9) applying within any one division. For example, divisions with 11 candidates may use all subcategories B–1 to B–9, while divisions with 7 candidates will only use subcategories B–1 to B–5 and divisions with 4 candidates will use subcategories B–1 and B–2 only. Ballots placed in subcategory B–1 are also classified into J subcategories (for the 2010 House of Representatives election, subcategories J–1 to J–11).

Category C: Ticks and crosses

For ballot papers in Category C, the voter has used a tick or cross instead of the number '1'.

Coding notes

Category C includes ballots where the voter has:

  • used numbers (other than '1') in all or some of the other squares (in combination with a tick or cross instead of the number '1'), or
  • used both ticks and crosses, or
  • written other symbols (e.g. alphabetic characters or zeros), slogans or scribbles on the ballot paper, in addition to a tick or cross instead of the number '1'.

However,

  • if ALL squares are marked with crosses (an apparent deliberate informal vote), treat the ballot as a protest vote and place it in Category F.
  • if the ballot paper includes both a number '1' and a tick, place it in Category I (Other).

Category D: Other symbols (e.g. alphabetic characters, or zero)

Ballot papers in Category D contain symbols other than numbers, e.g. alphabetic characters, zeros (0), or Yes/No indicators (note that numbers may also appear on these ballots). If alphabetic characters have been used, the series must be incomplete or non-sequential as a complete alphabetic sequence on a ballot (e.g. A, B, C, D, E) on a ballot paper would be a formal vote

Coding notes

  • If ALL squares are marked with zeros, treat the ballot paper as a deliberately informal protest vote and place it in Category F (this is treated the same as if all candidates were crossed out etc.)
  • If there are six candidates on a ballot paper, examples of informal ballots classified to Category D would include those containing:
    • 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (but not 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 – a Category F ballot)
    • A, C, D, Z, Y, X (but not C, B, A, D, E, F – this is a complete alphabetic sequence commencing at A and would therefore be a formal vote)
    • Yes, No, No, No, No, No
    • N, N, N, Y, N, N.

Category E: Non-sequential

Ballot papers within Category E (and its subcategories E–1 to E–6) have the numerical sequence recorded on them broken by missing numbers or repeated numbers (including ballots with more than one number '1').

Coding notes

If the voter has apparently deliberately numbered all or most squares with just one number (e.g. '1' or '9'), treat the ballot as a deliberately informal vote and place it in Category F (if in doubt, leave it in Category E).

Subcategories E–1 to E–6

The table below describes each of the subcategories within Category E, and provides examples of informal ballots (assuming six candidates on a ballot paper) that would be classified to each subcategory.

Subcategories within Category E
Subcategory Examples
E–1: These ballot papers contain repeated numbers (though not a repeated '1') within a numerical sequence (i.e. no missing numbers), and have all squares completed. Subcategory E–1 includes 'Langer style' votes. 5, 4, 1, 2, 3, 3
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5
3, 3, 3, 1, 2, 3
E–2: These ballots contain repeated numbers (though not a repeated '1') within a numerical sequence (i.e. no missing numbers) but do not have all squares completed 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, blank (but not 1, 2, 3, 4, blank, blank – a category B–4 ballot)
Blank, 1, 3, 2, 2, blank
E–3: These ballots contain a repeated number '1', irrespective of any other missing or repeated numbers or whether or not all squares have been completed. 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 5
1, 2, 1, 2, 1,
1, 2, 3, 1, 4, blank
1, 2, 3, 99, 1, 3
E–4: These ballots are missing a number '1' from within their numerical sequence. They may also contain other missing or repeated numbers and contain no other missing numbers or repeated numbers and have all squares completed. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
3, 7, 6, 4, 5, 2
E–5: These ballots have one or more numbers missing from within a numerical sequence (but where the number '1' is not missing), with no repeated numbers and all squares completed. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
3, 2, 1, 97, 98, 99
1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9
E–6: This subcategory includes all other ballots with non-sequential numbering (other than those included within categories E-1 to E-5). 2, 2, 3, 4, 99, blank (incomplete ballot with repeated numbers and missing number '1')
1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 99 (repeated and missing numbers, number '1' not repeated)

Category F: Scribbles, slogans and other protest vote marks

In essence, Category F can be thought of as 'frivolous' voting. It includes all ballot papers (other than those totally blank ballots in Category A) where the voter has apparently been very deliberate in casting an informal vote.

Coding notes

Category F includes ballot papers where:

  • there are zeros, slashes or crosses in all or most squares,
  • squares are not marked or crossed through, but slogans, scribble/graffiti/drawings, vulgarity etc. has been written on the ballot,
  • candidate names have been crossed out, or other candidate names have been written onto the ballot paper, or
  • all or most squares on the ballot paper have the same number (e.g. '1', '9' or '99').

Subcategories F–1 to F–3

The table below describes each of the subcategories within Category F, and provides examples of informal ballots (assuming six candidates on a ballot paper) that would classified to each subcategory.

Subcategories within Category F
Subcategory Examples
F–1: These ballots contain scribbles/slogans and squares have either not been marked, or have been crossed through No squares completed, but a statement or slogan (e.g. 'No Dams' or 'Vote 1 – Mickey Mouse') has been written on the ballot paper
All squares crossed out and vulgarity written across ballot paper
F–2: These ballot papers contain instances where candidate names have been changed (note, if a ballot shows characteristics of both F–1 and F–2, place it in subcategory F–2). Candidate names have been crossed out (regardless of whether or how squares have been completed)
The voter has crossed out the name of one candidate and written in the name of another candidate
The voter has added a candidate name to the ballot paper
F–3: This subcategory includes all other instances of 'frivolous voting' All or most squares on the ballot paper have the same number (e.g. '0', '1', '9', or '99')
All squares on the ballot paper have been crossed out
A large diagonal line drawn across the ballot to cross out all candidates

Category G: Illegible numbers

Ballot papers included in Category G (and its subcategories G–1 to G–3 are those where the numbering on the ballot is illegible.

Coding notes

  • Includes ballot papers that are illegible due to poor writing, or due to numbers being crossed out, written over or otherwise changed such that the voter's intention is not clear. It also includes cases where slogans have been written over numbers, or numbers have been written outside squares or between candidate names and it is not clear for whom the preference was intended.

Subcategories G–1 to G–3

  • Subcategory G–1 includes illegible ballots where the first preference (but not the second preference) of the voter is clear
  • Subcategory G–2 includes illegible ballots where both the first and second preference of the voter is clear
  • Subcategory G–3 includes illegible ballots where the first preference of the voter is not clear.

Category H: Voter identified

Ballot papers in Category H are informal solely because the voter could be identified.

Coding notes

  • Voter identification is subordinate to all other forms of informality – ballot papers that can be placed in other categories should not be included in Category H.

Category I: Other informal ballots

Category I includes informal ballot papers that do not fit within any of the other informality categories. Every attempt should be made to classify an informal ballot paper to another category before placing it within Category I.

Coding notes

Examples of ballot papers that would be placed in Category I include:

  • Those with both a tick and a number '1', or a cross and a '1', or a '1' and other symbols
  • Ballots with more than one number allocated to a candidate
  • Ballot papers allocated to the wrong division (e.g. in declaration counts).

Subcategory J–1 to J–11: Number '1' only ballots by candidate position on ballot paper

These ballots will all have a number '1' in one of the squares, with all other squares left blank.

Subcategories J–1 to J–11 show the number of number '1' only ballots according to the candidate position the number '1' was written against.

The number of 'J' subcategories applicable within a division will equal the number of candidates for the House of Representatives within that division, with a maximum of 11 subcategories therefore applicable for the 2010 federal election (e.g. divisions with 11 candidates would potentially use all subcategories J–1 to J–11, while divisions with 7 candidates would only potentially use subcategories J–1 to J–7).

Coding notes

Examples of ballot papers that would be placed in J subcategories include:

  • A ballot with a number '1' only in the square for the Candidate 1 on the ballot paper and all other squares left blank will be placed in subcategory J–1
  • A ballot with a number '1' only in the square for the Candidate 3 on the ballot paper and all other squares left blank will be placed in subcategory J–3
  • A ballot with a number '1' only in the square for the Candidate 10 on the ballot paper and all other squares left blank will be placed in subcategory J–10.

If there is more than one number '1' on the ballot paper, place it in Category E.

If ALL squares on the ballot paper are marked with a number '1', treat the ballot as a deliberately informal vote and place it in Category F.