The Australian Electoral Commission plans to concentrate on counting votes in six close seats which will decide the result of the election.
The AEC will also declare the first official result, the Victorian electorate of Mallee, held convincingly for the Nationals by sitting MP Andrew Broad with a margin of almost 30 per cent.
The six close electorates are Flynn (Queensland) where Labor leads by 7, Capricornia (Qld) where Labor leads by 175, Hindmarsh (South Australia) where Labor leads by 177, Herbert (Qld) where Labor leads by 348, Cowan (Western Australia) where Labor leads by 427, and Forde (Qld) where the LNP leads by 783.
Labor’s problem is that more postal votes have been going to the coalition, in some seats whittling away what seemed an unassailable lead.
For example, the day after the election Flynn in Queensland was classed as a Labor win but postals have flown strongly to sitting Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd who has reduced Labor’s lead from more than 1000 to just seven.
Labor might feel slightly more comfortable in seats such as Herbert where it’s still 348 in front, although down from more than 1000 the day after the election.
The count won’t officially end until next Friday, deadline for arrival of the last postal votes, many coming from 94 overseas voting centres.
The AEC says this is a close election and the overall result will rely on the results in a small number of close seats.
If a seat remains close, a full distribution of preferences may be required to determine a result. That can only be done next Friday when all votes must have been received.
The AEC has been busy. Some 11 million ballot papers were counted by around 75,000 polling officials at more than 7000 polling places after 6pm on election day.
From Tuesday to Friday the AEC verified and counted more than 1.2 million postal votes. That’s continuing with officials now working through more than a million declaration votes.