INDI’S giant ballot paper may have increased the informal vote at this month’s federal election.
Informals were up from 3449 in 2010 (3.91 per cent) to 4774 (5.09 per cent). There were 2332 (2.68 per cent) in 2007.
The story was similar in Farrer where there were 6357 informals (7.12 per cent), up from 5611 (6.34 per cent).
La Trobe University politics lecturer Ian Tulloch said the rule of thumb was that the more candidates there were the higher the informal vote.
There were 11 candidates in Indi, at least double the usual number.
“New right-of-centre parties like the Katter Australian Party and Palmer United, would have led to a bit more confusion,” Mr Tulloch said.
He said the number of candidates receiving less than 4 per cent of the vote and a lower vote for some bigger parties pointed to this.
Eight of the 11 Indi candidates received a tiny primary vote and Labor and the Greens both lost much support.
“Or course a few voters deliberately spoil their ballot, and then there’s the donkey vote if they’re not interested in politics,” he said.
Mr Tulloch also said there could have been some confusion in Farrer, which often has eight to 10 candidates — nine this year — because NSW has optional proportional voting at the state level.
Farrer’s regular informal vote of 6 to 7 per cent dropped to just 3427 (3.82 per cent) in 2007 when Kevin Rudd defeated former prime minister John Howard and Labor’s Chris Ryan achieved a 6.3 per cent swing.
Farrer MP Sussan Ley said this year’s small increase in informal votes did not mean there was “any huge jump in disengaged voters”.
“One thing polling booth workers in various parts of the electorate noted was an increase in people declining to take a how-to-vote card from any candidate,” she said.
There were 93,815 ballots cast in Indi out of 98,399 (95.34 per cent) and 89,345 votes in Farrer — 95.34 per cent of the 94,494 on the roll.