Analysis of Informal Voting, House of Representatives, 2010 Federal Election - Categories of informal ballots

Updated: 30 May 2013

Table 7 shows informal ballots by category, as a proportion of all informal ballots cast within each state and territory, while table 8 shows informal ballots by category as a proportion of all votes cast in each state or territory 7. The following subsections discuss findings from both of these tables.

Appendix E provides, for each state and territory, a table showing counts of informal ballots, proportions and rates by informality category and subcategory. The Divisional Summaries provided in Appendix F show counts and proportions of informal ballots by broad category.

National and state/territory summary

The 2010 House of Representatives election saw a substantial increase in the proportion of blank ballots (from 20.0 per cent of all informal ballots at the 2007 House of Representatives election to 28.9 per cent in 2010), with smaller increases in the proportions of ballots with ticks and crosses (from 9.9 per cent to 11.8 per cent) and scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks (from 14.2 per cent to 16.9 per cent). The proportion of number '1' only ballots decreased slightly (from 30.1 per cent of all informal ballots in 2007 to 27.8 per cent in 2010), while there was a more substantial decrease in the proportion of ballots with non-sequential numbering (from 17.9 per cent to 9.2 per cent).

While more than a quarter of all informal votes cast in each state and territory were blank, blank ballots still comprise less than two (1.60) per cent of all votes cast. The highest proportions of blank ballots were cast by voters in Tasmania (34.1 per cent of all informal ballots) and South Australia (32.4 per cent). These also recorded the highest proportions of blank ballots for the 2007 House of Representatives election (29.3 and 26.9 per cent, respectively).

Nationally, the rate of blank ballots doubled between the 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections, from 0.79 per cent of all votes cast in 2007 to 1.60 per cent of all votes cast in 2010. The states with the highest rates of blank ballots were New South Wales (1.84 per cent of all votes cast) and South Australia (1.77 per cent), while the lowest rates of blank ballots were cast by voters in the Australian Capital Territory (1.39 percent of all votes cast) and Tasmania (1.38 per cent).

Table 7

Informal votes by category (% of total informal votes), House of Representatives elections, 2001–2010
Category NSW % Vic. % Qld % WA % SA % Tas. % ACT % NT % National %
Blank
2001 20.4 25.0 15.7 23.4 24.5 27.9 30.8 20.7 21.4
2004 21.2 24.2 15.2 22.9 23.2 28.2 23.6 18.8 21.1
2007 18.2 22.3 15.4 23.5 26.9 29.3 25.8 15.0 20.0
2010 27.0 31.9 26.5 31.7 32.4 34.1 29.9 25.8 28.9
Number '1' only
2001 32.5 26.1 46.4 29.9 36.6 23.6 28.8 28.0 33.6
2004 35.7 21.8 44.6 25.3 30.9 22.4 35.6 27.7 32.8
2007 36.2 21.6 36.4 18.0 24.3 17.3 25.9 24.7 30.1
2010 31.8 20.7 32.2 22.6 23.2 18.8 27.2 19.7 27.8
Incomplete numbering (other than number '1' only)
2001 (a)
2004 5.2 3.1 4.6 5.0 3.0 2.8 3.1 3.7 4.4
2007 5.3 2.9 5.3 4.6 3.3 4.5 3.1 3.6 4.5
2010 3.3 1.8 2.4 2.5 2.3 1.2 0.8 4.7 2.6
Ticks and crosses
2001 12.6 13.0 11.5 9.9 15.2 15.8 9.0 10.6 12.4
2004 10.7 7.4 7.4 9.2 11.7 11.4 8.8 9.0 9.3
2007 11.0 8.1 9.4 8.3 12.8 7.2 10.2 15.2 9.9
2010 13.8 9.1 9.9 11.6 12.8 10.4 14.0 12.8 11.8
Non-sequential numbering
2001 24.9 17.4 12.5 25.9 14.7 20.1 8.5 29.6 19.9
2004 15.3 20.4 9.8 19.3 14.1 8.2 4.9 19.9 15.4
2007 15.8 21.7 15.2 26.3 15.9 15.0 9.9 24.4 17.9
2010 9.9 10.9 5.2 10.5 11.1 4.8 2.5 17.6 9.2
Scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks
2001 5.5 8.2 4.9 7.8 6.6 12.1 4.2 3.0 6.4
2004 9.6 20.1 15.6 15.9 13.7 24.7 20.2 15.6 14.3
2007 10.7 18.9 15.0 15.6 14.3 24.0 22.3 9.6 14.2
2010 12.0 21.7 21.0 17.0 15.5 27.7 22.6 16.7 16.9
Voter identified
2001 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
2004 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
2007 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.1
2010 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Other (b)
2001 (a) 4.1 10.3 9.0 2.9 2.4 0.5 18.7 8.1 6.2
2004 2.3 3.0 2.7 2.4 3.3 2.3 3.9 5.4 2.6
2007 2.8 4.3 3.4 3.5 2.5 2.7 2.7 7.3 3.3
2010 2.2 3.9 2.7 4.0 2.6 3.0 3.0 2.7 2.9

Note: Some figures in this table have been revised to correct errors in previously published reports.

(a) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots.

(b) Includes ballots containing illegible numbering or other symbols.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections.

Table 8

Informal votes by category (% of all votes cast), House of Representatives elections, 2001–2010
Category NSW % Vic. % Qld % WA % SA % Tas. % ACT % NT % National %
Blank
2001 1.11 0.99 0.76 1.15 1.36 0.95 1.08 0.96 1.03
2004 1.30 0.99 0.79 1.22 1.29 1.01 0.81 0.83 1.10
2007 0.90 0.73 0.55 0.91 1.02 0.86 0.60 0.58 0.79
2010 1.84 1.43 1.45 1.53 1.77 1.38 1.39 1.60 1.60
Number '1' only
2001 1.76 1.04 2.24 1.47 2.03 0.80 1.01 1.30 1.62
2004 2.18 0.89 2.30 1.34 1.72 0.80 1.22 1.23 1.70
2007 1.79 0.70 1.29 0.69 0.92 0.51 0.60 0.95 1.19
2010 2.17 0.93 1.75 1.09 1.27 0.76 1.27 1.22 1.54
Incomplete numbering (other than number '1' only)
2001 (a)
2004 0.32 0.13 0.24 0.26 0.17 0.10 0.11 0.17 0.23
2007 0.26 0.10 0.19 0.18 0.12 0.13 0.07 0.14 0.18
2010 0.22 0.08 0.13 0.12 0.13 0.05 0.04 0.29 0.14
Ticks and crosses
2001 0.68 0.52 0.55 0.49 0.84 0.54 0.32 0.49 0.60
2004 0.66 0.30 0.38 0.49 0.65 0.41 0.30 0.40 0.48
2007 0.54 0.26 0.33 0.32 0.48 0.21 0.24 0.59 0.39
2010 0.94 0.41 0.54 0.56 0.70 0.42 0.65 0.79 0.65
Non-sequential numbering
2001 1.35 0.69 0.60 1.28 0.82 0.68 0.30 1.37 0.96
2004 0.94 0.84 0.51 1.03 0.79 0.29 0.17 0.88 0.79
2007 0.78 0.71 0.54 1.01 0.60 0.44 0.23 0.94 0.71
2010 0.68 0.49 0.28 0.51 0.61 0.19 0.12 1.09 0.51
Scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks
2001 0.30 0.33 0.24 0.38 0.36 0.41 0.15 0.14 0.31
2004 0.59 0.83 0.81 0.85 0.76 0.89 0.70 0.69 0.74
2007 0.53 0.62 0.53 0.60 0.54 0.70 0.52 0.37 0.56
2010 0.82 0.98 1.14 0.82 0.85 1.12 1.05 1.03 0.94
Voter identified
2001 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
2004 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
2007 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00
2010 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Other (b)
2001 (a) 0.22 0.41 0.44 0.14 0.13 0.02 0.66 0.38 0.30
2004 0.14 0.12 0.14 0.13 0.18 0.08 0.13 0.24 0.14
2007 0.14 0.14 0.12 0.14 0.09 0.08 0.06 0.28 0.13
2010 0.15 0.17 0.15 0.19 0.14 0.12 0.14 0.17 0.16
Total
2001 5.42 3.98 4.83 4.92 5.54 3.40 3.52 4.64 4.82
2004 6.12 4.10 5.16 5.32 5.56 3.59 3.44 4.45 5.18
2007 4.95 3.25 3.56 3.85 3.78 2.92 2.31 3.85 3.95
2010 6.83 4.50 5.45 4.82 5.46 4.04 4.66 6.19 5.55

(a) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots.

(b) Includes ballots containing illegible numbering or other symbols.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.

The proportion of informal ballots with incomplete numbering decreased from 34.6 per cent in 2007 (30.1 per cent with a number '1' only) to 30.4 per cent in 2010 (27.8 per cent with a number '1' only). The informality rate for ballots with incomplete numbering increased from 1.37 per cent of all votes cast in 2007, to 1.69 per cent of all votes cast in 2010.

The highest proportions of ballots with incomplete numbering were in New South Wales (35.1 per cent of all informal ballots) and Queensland (34.7 per cent). AEC analysis for previous House of Representatives elections has indicated that there may be a relationship between the relatively high proportions of informal ballots with incomplete numbering cast in New South Wales and Queensland for House of Representatives elections and optional preferential voting provisions for Legislative Assembly elections within these states (AEC 2005; AEC 2009). The influence of different state and territory electoral systems on informal voting at federal elections is discussed later in this paper.

Nationally, 11.8 per cent of all informal ballots cast in the 2010 House of Representatives election contained ticks or crosses. The highest proportions of informal ballots with ticks and crosses were cast by voters in the Australian Capital Territory (14.0 per cent of informal ballots) and New South Wales (13.8 per cent), while the lowest proportions were in Victoria (9.1 per cent) and Queensland (9.9 per cent).

The highest informality rates for ballots with ticks or crosses were in New South Wales (0.94 per cent of all votes cast) and the Northern Territory (0.79 per cent of all votes cast), while the lowest rates were win Victoria (0.41 per cent of all votes cast) and Tasmania (0.42 per cent).

The proportion of informal ballots with non-sequential numbering declined in all states and territories between 2007 and 2010. At the national level, non-sequential ballots decreased from 17.9 per cent of informal ballots in 2007 to 9.2 per cent of informal ballots in 2010.

The highest proportions of non-sequential ballots in 2010 were cast by voters in the Northern Territory (17.6 per cent of all informal ballots) and South Australia (11.1 per cent), while the lowest proportions were in the Australian Capital Territory (2.5 per cent of informal ballots) and Tasmania (4.8 per cent of informal ballots).

The proportions of informal ballots with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks at the 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections (14.3, 14.2 and 16.9 per cent of informal ballots, respectively) were substantially higher than that recorded at the 2001 election (6.4 per cent of informal ballots). In 2010 voters in Tasmania (27.7 per cent of all informal ballots) and the Australian Capital Territory (22.6 per cent) cast the highest proportions of ballots with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks, while voters in New South Wales (12.0 per cent) and South Australia (15.5 per cent) cast the lowest proportions.

Nationally, the informality rate for ballots with scribbles, slogans or other protest marks has increased from 0.56 per cent of all votes cast in 2007 to 0.94 per cent of all votes cast in 2010. At the state and territory level, the highest informality rates for ballots with scribbles, slogans and other protest vote marks were in Queensland (1.14 per cent of all votes cast) and Tasmania (1.12 per cent) while the lowest rates were in New South Wales and Western Australia (each 0.82 per cent of all votes cast in these states).

Assumed unintentional and intentional informality

The way in which an informal ballot paper has been completed does not always clearly convey the intent of the voter in submitting that ballot paper. While some categories of informal ballots (e.g. blank ballots or those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) may be more clearly associated with the intention to cast an informal vote, other categories (e.g. incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering or ticks and crosses) may include voters who intended to vote informally as well as voters who intended to vote formally.

As it is not possible to determine the true intent of voters casting informal ballots, the following analysis refers to assumed unintentional and assumed intentional informality.

  • Ballot papers with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter had been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal. In other words, it is assumed that all voters completing ballot papers in these categories intended to cast a formal vote.
  • All other informal ballots (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal. In other words, it is assumed that all voters casting ballots papers in these categories intended to vote informally.

As shown in Table 9, the proportion of assumed unintentionally informal ballots has decreased from two thirds (66 per cent) of all informal ballots in 2001 to a little over half (51.4 per cent) of informal ballots in 2010. The highest proportions of assumed unintentionally informal votes were cast by voters in New South Wales (58.8 per cent of all informal ballots) and the Northern Territory (54.8 per cent).

The highest proportions of assumed intentionally informal ballots were cast by voters in Tasmania (64.7 per cent of all informal ballots) and Victoria (57.5 per cent).

As shown in Figure 3 and Table 10, the rate of assumed unintentional informal voting increased from 2.47 per cent of all votes cast in the 2007 House of Representatives election to 2.85 per cent of all votes cast in the 2010 House of Representatives election.

The 2010 assumed unintentional informality rate is lower than that recorded at either the 2004 (3.21 per cent) or 2001 elections (3.18 per cent of all votes cast). While ballots with incomplete numbering other than a number '1' only in 2001 were counted as 'Other' informal ballots 8 and therefore not included in the 2001 assumed unintentional informality rate, the impact of these ballots would be minor.

At the state and territory level, New South Wales and the Northern Territory recorded the highest unintentional informality rates in 2010 (4.02 per cent and 3.39 per cent of all votes cast, respectively) as well as the highest intentional informality rates (2.81 and 2.80 per cent, respectively).

The lowest unintentional informality rates were in Tasmania (1.43 per cent of all votes cast) and Victoria (1.91 per cent), while the lowest intentional informality rates were in Western Australia (2.54 per cent of all votes cast), Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (each 2.58 per cent).

Table 9

Assumed unintentional and intentional informal voting (% of total informal votes) by state and territory, House of Representatives elections, 2001–2010
  NSW % Vic. % Qld % WA % SA % Tas. % ACT % NT % National %
Assumed unintentional informal votes (a)
2001 (b) 0.0 56.5 70.4 65.9 66.6 59.5 46.3 68.2 66.0
2004 66.9 52.7 66.4 58.7 59.8 44.8 52.3 60.3 61.9
2007 68.4 54.5 66.2 57.3 56.3 44.0 49.2 68.1 62.5
2010 58.8 42.5 49.8 47.3 49.5 35.3 44.5 54.8 51.4
Assumed intentional informal votes (c)
2001 (b) 30.0 43.5 29.6 34.1 33.4 40.5 53.7 31.8 34.0
2004 33.1 47.3 33.6 41.3 40.2 55.2 47.7 39.7 38.1
2007 31.6 45.5 33.8 42.7 43.7 56.0 50.8 31.9 37.5
2010 41.2 57.5 50.2 52.7 50.5 64.7 55.5 45.2 48.6

(a) Ballots with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter has been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal.

(b) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots and are therefore included within counts of intentionally informal votes used for this table.

(c) All ballots not assumed to be unintentionally informal (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections.

Figure 3. Assumed unintentional and intentional informal voting (% of all votes cast),

House of Representatives elections, 2001–2010

Graph showing the information presented in table 9

(a) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots and are therefore included within counts of intentional informal votes used for this table.

(b) Ballots with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter has been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal.

(c) All ballots not assumed to be unintentionally informal (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.

Table 10

  NSW % Vic. % Qld % WA % SA % Tas. % ACT % NT % National %
Assumed unintentional informal votes (a)
2001 (b) 3.79 2.25 3.40 3.24 3.69 2.03 1.63 3.16 3.18
2004 4.09 2.16 3.43 3.12 3.33 1.61 1.80 2.68 3.21
2007 3.39 1.77 2.35 2.21 2.13 1.29 1.14 2.63 2.47
2010 4.02 1.91 2.71 2.28 2.70 1.43 2.07 3.39 2.85
Assumed intentional informal votes (c)
2001 (b) 1.63 1.73 1.43 1.68 1.85 1.38 1.89 1.48 1.64
2004 2.02 1.94 1.73 2.19 2.23 1.98 1.64 1.77 1.97
2007 1.57 1.48 1.20 1.64 1.65 1.64 1.17 1.23 1.48
2010 2.81 2.58 2.74 2.54 2.75 2.62 2.58 2.80 2.70
Total informal votes
2001 5.42 3.98 4.83 4.92 5.54 3.40 3.52 4.64 4.82
2004 6.12 4.10 5.16 5.32 5.56 3.59 3.44 4.45 5.18
2007 4.95 3.25 3.56 3.85 3.78 2.92 2.31 3.85 3.95
2010 6.83 4.50 5.45 4.82 5.46 4.04 4.66 6.19 5.55

(a) Ballots with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter has been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal.

(b) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots and are therefore included within counts of intentional informal votes used for this table.

(c) All ballots not assumed to be unintentionally informal (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.

Categories of informal ballots in high informality divisions

Tables 11 and 12 show informal ballots by category for the 10 divisions with the highest informality rates in the 2010 House of Representatives election. Table 11 shows categories of informal ballots as a proportion of all informal ballots in the division, while Table 12 shows categories as a proportion of all votes cast in the division.

For each of these top 10 divisions, the largest proportion of informal ballots had incomplete numbering (whether a number '1' only or other incomplete numbering). For seven out of these top 10 divisions, the proportion of informal ballots with incomplete numbering was above the state average for New South Wales (35.1 per cent – see Table 7).

The second largest proportion for all of these top 10 divisions was blank ballots. For seven out of the top 10 divisions, blank ballots were also the category recording the greatest increase between the 2007 and 2010 elections. Exceptions to this were in Greenway (where the greatest increase was for non-sequentially numbered ballots), Barton (where the greatest increase was for ballots with scribbles, slogans and other protest vote marks) and Parramatta (where the greatest increase was for ballots with ticks and crosses).

In all of these high informality divisions, the 2010 informality rate for ballots with incomplete numbering (number '1' only and other incomplete numbering) was higher than the informality rate for any other category of informal ballots, and was higher than the state average for New South Wales (2.40 per cent of all votes cast in 2010 – see Table 8). However, in seven out of the 10 divisions, the greatest increase in informality rates between 2007 and 2010 was for blank ballots. The rates of blank ballots in 2010 for each of the top 10 informality divisions were also above the New South Wales average (1.84 per cent – see Table 8).

Table 11

Divisions with highest levels of informal voting in the 2010 House of Representatives election by category (% of total informal votes)
Division House of Representatives election Blanks Number '1' only Other incomplete numbering (a) Ticks and crosses Non-sequential numbering (b) Scribbles, slogans, protest votes Voter identified Other (a)(b)
Blaxland 2001 22.1 28.4 14.2 29.1 6.0 0.1 0.0
2004 22.7 32.3 5.6 13.2 19.4 5.1 0.0 1.6
2007 19.0 34.5 7.6 10.9 15.0 10.0 0.0 2.9
2010 27.9 29.6 5.2 12.0 12.4 9.7 0.1 3.1
Fowler 2001 15.8 28.4 14.8 2.4 4.1 0.1 34.4
2004 19.7 36.6 2.0 18.7 12.7 9.9 0.0 0.4
2007 14.6 42.6 2.0 21.5 6.5 11.0 0.0 1.7
2010 24.5 36.8 1.2 20.9 4.1 10.6 0.0 2.0
Watson 2001 24.8 31.9 18.7 20.3 4.2 0.0 0.1
2004 21.6 32.7 6.0 15.5 9.7 6.1 0.2 8.3
2007 16.6 46.2 5.3 10.1 7.8 10.7 0.2 3.2
2010 26.2 38.6 1.4 16.7 3.8 10.4 0.0 2.9
Chifley 2001 23.0 28.7 13.5 31.4 2.7 0.0 0.7
2004 21.8 35.0 6.6 10.8 13.1 11.4 0.0 1.4
2007 18.5 28.6 8.5 11.6 25.7 6.1 0.0 1.0
2010 28.9 31.4 4.4 14.5 12.5 6.6 0.1 1.6
McMahon (c) 2001 19.9 28.5 17.0 28.0 6.0 0.0 0.5
2004 19.4 37.2 4.0 15.2 8.4 13.6 0.1 2.1
2007 18.4 34.8 3.3 19.1 11.2 8.9 0.0 4.4
2010 24.7 34.1 1.5 22.5 4.6 11.2 0.0 1.4
Werriwa 2001 17.6 34.6 14.3 14.4 19.0 0.0 0.1
2004 20.9 36.9 4.7 14.6 11.8 10.4 0.0 0.7
2007 19.1 41.8 4.2 13.3 10.3 10.4 0.0 0.8
2010 28.0 33.5 0.0 18.8 3.2 15.2 0.0 1.3
Greenway 2001 25.4 29.1 14.0 25.6 3.7 0.0 2.2
2004 21.4 26.7 9.1 7.5 28.3 5.7 0.0 1.4
2007 22.4 32.9 5.0 8.9 15.9 12.3 0.0 2.5
2010 25.5 23.9 7.7 8.6 23.2 8.0 0.1 2.9
Barton 2001 19.0 29.5 16.7 26.8 4.9 0.0 3.0
2004 20.2 41.2 2.0 17.5 11.2 5.9 0.0 1.9
2007 19.5 41.3 2.0 20.1 10.0 4.9 0.0 2.1
2010 22.2 42.8 0.0 16.6 2.7 14.8 0.0 1.0
Reid 2001 21.5 33.1 16.8 10.0 3.8 0.0 14.8
2004 19.9 31.1 6.1 11.1 17.3 11.8 0.0 2.7
2007 19.5 32.8 6.7 10.3 14.3 14.5 0.0 1.8
2010 24.0 39.7 3.0 14.1 5.5 11.0 0.0 2.7
Parramatta 2001 17.1 40.6 13.0 17.9 4.7 0.1 6.6
2004 17.9 34.8 9.1 8.1 21.2 5.8 0.0 3.0
2007 18.8 30.6 11.2 7.6 20.7 9.2 0.0 1.8
2010 24.3 31.5 6.2 14.8 10.8 9.5 0.0 3.0

Note: Some figures in this table have been revised to correct errors in previously published reports.

(a) In 2001 ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots.

(b) Includes ballots containing illegible numbering or other symbols.

(c) The division of Prospect was re-named 'McMahon' on 22 December 2009. Figures for 2001, 2004 and 2007 refer to Prospect.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections.

Table 12

Divisions with highest levels of informal voting in the 2010 House of Representatives election by category (% of total votes)
Division House of Representatives election Blanks Number '1' only Other incomplete numbering (a) Ticks and crosses Non-sequential numbering (b) Scribbles, slogans, protest votes Voter identified Other (a)(b) Total
Blaxland 2001 2.16 2.78 1.39 2.85 0.59 0.01 0.00 9.78
2004 2.43 3.46 0.60 1.41 2.07 0.55 0.00 0.17 10.70
2007 1.81 3.28 0.72 1.03 1.43 0.95 0.00 0.28 9.49
2010 3.92 4.16 0.73 1.69 1.74 1.37 0.01 0.44 14.06
Fowler 2001 2.02 3.63 1.89 0.30 0.53 0.02 4.39 12.75
2004 1.80 3.33 0.18 1.70 1.16 0.90 0.00 0.04 9.11
2007 1.12 3.27 0.16 1.65 0.50 0.84 0.00 0.13 7.67
2010 3.14 4.72 0.15 2.68 0.52 1.36 0.00 0.25 12.83
Watson 2001 1.86 2.40 1.40 1.53 0.32 0.00 0.01 7.52
2004 1.96 2.98 0.54 1.41 0.89 0.55 0.02 0.75 9.10
2007 1.50 4.18 0.48 0.91 0.71 0.97 0.02 0.29 9.05
2010 3.36 4.94 0.18 2.14 0.48 1.33 0.00 0.37 12.80
Chifley 2001 2.11 2.63 1.24 2.89 0.25 0.00 0.06 9.20
2004 2.20 3.53 0.66 1.09 1.32 1.15 0.00 0.14 10.10
2007 1.48 2.28 0.68 0.92 2.06 0.49 0.00 0.08 7.99
2010 3.23 3.51 0.49 1.61 1.40 0.74 0.01 0.18 11.16
McMahon (c) 2001 1.79 2.57 1.53 2.52 0.54 0.00 0.04 8.99
2004 1.80 3.44 0.37 1.40 0.78 1.26 0.01 0.19 9.24
2007 1.43 2.69 0.25 1.48 0.86 0.69 0.00 0.34 7.73
2010 2.68 3.70 0.16 2.44 0.50 1.21 0.00 0.15 10.84
Werriwa 2001 1.50 2.94 1.21 1.22 1.62 0.00 0.01 8.51
2004 1.67 2.94 0.37 1.17 0.94 0.83 0.00 0.06 7.98
2007 1.25 2.73 0.28 0.87 0.68 0.68 0.00 0.05 6.53
2010 2.89 3.46 0.00 1.95 0.33 1.57 0.00 0.14 10.35
Greenway 2001 1.72 1.97 0.95 1.74 0.25 0.00 0.15 6.79
2004 2.54 3.16 1.07 0.89 3.34 0.67 0.00 0.16 11.83
2007 1.04 1.52 0.23 0.41 0.74 0.57 0.00 0.12 4.63
2010 2.62 2.46 0.79 0.89 2.38 0.83 0.01 0.30 10.27
Barton 2001 1.25 1.95 1.10 1.77 0.33 0.00 0.19 6.59
2004 1.41 2.87 0.14 1.22 0.78 0.41 0.00 0.13 6.96
2007 1.09 2.30 0.11 1.12 0.55 0.27 0.00 0.12 5.56
2010 2.18 4.20 0.00 1.63 0.26 1.45 0.00 0.10 9.82
Reid 2001 2.39 3.67 1.86 1.11 0.42 0.00 1.64 11.08
2004 2.33 3.65 0.71 1.30 2.03 1.39 0.00 0.31 11.71
2007 1.48 2.48 0.50 0.78 1.09 1.10 0.00 0.14 7.57
2010 2.11 3.49 0.27 1.24 0.49 0.96 0.00 0.23 8.80
Parramatta 2001 1.06 2.52 0.81 1.11 0.29 0.00 0.41 6.21
2004 1.53 2.97 0.78 0.70 1.81 0.49 0.00 0.25 8.53
2007 1.23 2.01 0.74 0.50 1.36 0.61 0.00 0.12 6.56
2010 2.10 2.73 0.54 1.28 0.93 0.82 0.00 0.26 8.65

(a) In 2001 ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots.

(b) Includes ballots containing illegible numbering or other symbols.

(c) The division of Prospect was re-named 'McMahon' on 22 December 2009. Figures for 2001, 2004 and 2007 refer to Prospect.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.

Assumed unintentional and intentional informality

Table 13 shows assumed unintentional and assumed intentional informal voting in the 10 divisions recording the highest levels of informal voting in the 2010 House of Representatives election.

Of these top 10 divisions, Greenway (63.5 per cent of informal votes in 2010) and Parramatta (63.3 per cent) were assumed to have the highest proportions of unintentionally informal votes, while Werriwa (44.5 per cent) and Blaxland (40.7 per cent) were assumed to have the highest proportions of intentionally informal votes. The only division to record an increase in the proportion of assumed unintentional informal votes was Greenway (from 62.7 of informal votes in 2007 to 63.5 per cent in 2010). The greatest proportionate increases in assumed intentionally informal votes were in Werriwa (from 30.3 per cent of informal votes in 2007 to 44.5 per cent in 2010) and Chifley (from 25.6 per cent of informal votes in 2007 to 37.2 per cent in 2010).

Of the top 10 informality divisions in 2010, Blaxland recorded the highest assumed unintentional informality rate (8.34 per cent of all votes cast) as well as the highest assumed intentional informality rate (5.73 per cent). The next highest assumed unintentional informality rates were in Fowler (8.07 per cent of votes cast) and Watson (7.74 per cent), while the next highest assumed intentional informality rates were in Watson (5.06 per cent of all votes cast) and Fowler (4.75 per cent).

Table 13

Division Assumed unintentionally informal votes (a) Assumed intentionally informal votes (b) Total informal votes
2001(c) 2004 2007 2010 2001(c) 2004 2007 2010 2010
Proportion of total informal votes (%)
Blaxland 71.9 70.6 68.1 59.3 28.1 29.4 31.9 40.7 100.0
Fowler 45.7 69.9 72.7 62.9 54.4 30.1 27.3 37.1 100.0
Watson 70.9 64.1 69.6 60.5 29.1 35.9 30.4 39.5 100.0
Chifley 73.6 65.4 74.4 62.8 26.4 34.6 25.6 37.2 100.0
McMahon (d) 73.6 64.9 68.3 62.7 26.4 35.1 31.7 37.3 100.0
Werriwa 63.2 68.0 69.7 55.5 36.8 32.0 30.3 44.5 100.0
Greenway 68.7 71.5 62.7 63.5 31.3 28.5 37.3 36.5 100.0
Barton 73.1 72.0 73.5 62.1 26.9 28.0 26.5 37.9 100.0
Reid 59.9 65.6 64.1 62.4 40.1 34.4 35.9 37.6 100.0
Parramatta 71.6 73.3 70.2 63.3 28.4 26.7 29.8 36.7 100.0
Proportion of all votes cast (%)
Blaxland 7.03 7.55 6.46 8.34 2.75 3.15 3.03 5.73 14.06
Fowler 5.83 6.37 5.58 8.07 6.93 2.74 2.09 4.75 12.83
Watson 5.34 5.83 6.30 7.74 2.19 3.27 2.76 5.06 12.80
Chifley 6.77 6.61 5.94 7.01 2.42 3.49 2.05 4.15 11.16
McMahon (d) 6.61 6.00 5.28 6.79 2.38 3.25 2.45 4.05 10.84
Werriwa 5.38 5.42 4.55 5.74 3.13 2.55 1.98 4.60 10.35
Greenway 4.66 8.46 2.90 6.52 2.12 3.37 1.72 3.74 10.27
Barton 4.82 5.01 4.09 6.10 1.78 1.95 1.48 3.73 9.82
Reid 6.64 7.69 4.86 5.49 4.44 4.03 2.72 3.31 8.80
Parramatta 4.45 6.25 4.61 5.48 1.76 2.28 1.95 3.18 8.65

(a) Ballots with incomplete numbering, non-sequential numbering, ticks and crosses and those where the voter has been identified are assumed to be unintentionally informal.

(b) All ballots not assumed to be unintentionally informal (including blank ballots and those with scribbles, slogans or other protest vote marks) are assumed to be intentionally informal.

(c) For the 2001 House of Representatives election Informal Ballot Paper Survey, ballots with incomplete numbering (other than '1' only) were counted as 'Other' informal ballots and are therefore included within counts of intentionally informal votes used for this table.

(d) The division of Prospect was re-named 'McMahon' on 22 December 2009. Figures for 2001, 2004 and 2007 refer to Prospect.

Source: AEC, Informal Ballot Paper Surveys, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 House of Representatives elections; AEC 2002; AEC 2005b; AEC 2008; AEC 2010b.


7. For each state and territory in Table 7, the sum of the informality categories equals 100 per cent. For each state and territory in Table 8, the sum of informality categories equals the total informality rate (informal votes as a proportion of all votes cast) for that state or territory.

8. See Table 2 for further information.