• Tony Bosworth

Explainer - How To Vote cards – phone vote for those with Covid - vid on how preferences work

See candidates' How To Vote cards at the end of this story...

Around a quarter of the voting population have already cast a vote in the Federal election, either through pre-polling or via a postal vote, but for the rest of us tomorrow - Saturday is the day.

According to the various opinion polls there are a lot of people who have not yet made up their minds – their choice will be made close to, or even on the day.

And just announced this morning – if you are one of the tens of thousands of people nationwide who have got Covid, you will be able to phone vote.

You will be eligible for secure telephone voting if you have Covid and if you tested COVID-positive after 6pm Tuesday May 17.

Make sure you register soon though because you do need to have your RAT or PCR reference.

You must register to phone vote by 4pm AEST Saturday 21 May. Telephone voting lines will remain open until 6pm local time Saturday 21 May.

The Macquarie electorate

In the last Federal election, back in 2019, sitting Labor MP Susan Templeman faced Liberal candidate Sarah Richards. That ended – after a 16-day counting session waiting for postal and absentee votes to be tallied – with Ms Templeman winning with a slender 371 vote majority, making Macquarie the country’s most marginal seat.

In that 2019 election there was a swing to the Liberals of a hefty 6.6% on primary votes but still a swing to Labor of 2.8% on primary votes. The Greens had the third largest vote, though many thousands less than the two major candidates.

The two party preferred vote – so after all preferences had been allocated – saw a 2% swing to the Liberals.

Where will the swing go this time? That’s one of the big questions we’ll only get an idea of on the day.

Other interesting elements are these – traditionally the Blue Mountains mostly votes for Labor or Greens and other progressives, the Hawkesbury mostly for Liberal and other right-leaning parties.

Back in 2019, the Liberal candidate was not generally well known outside the Hawkesbury, while this time around, as a colleague put it, “people have a decent idea who she is now”.

There have also been more potential voters moving into Macquarie, both as a result of housing developments like North Richmond’s Redbank – although quite a number of them are locals simply moving to a new home.

And there’s been an influx of people moving for a lifestyle change partly as a result of Covid and more working from home experience. Typically these newcomers are from the urban areas, with many taking advantage of working-from-home possibilities in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury.

This year the same two main candidates face off – Templeman and Richards - and it is really anyone’s guess how it will turn out this time but given the huge gap in votes between the two majors – Labor and Liberal – and the next nearest candidate (that was the Greens in the last election), either Templeman or Richards will likely take the prize.

The Macquarie electorate is clearly divided in the way it votes between the Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains – or at least it was in 2019.

There were also clear divisions between the upper and lower Blue Mountains.

There is a large variance in the vote between the three areas.

Labor’s two-party-preferred majority in 2019 was 56% in the lower Blue Mountains and over 70% in the upper Blue Mountains, while the Liberal Party almost reached 64% in the Hawkesbury.

The Greens vote varied a lot, ranging from 4.6% in the Hawkesbury to 17% in the upper Blue Mountains.

Preferences - check out the video link below

Clearly, preferences will also play a huge role in who wins because on primary votes last time the two main candidates were relatively close.

Here is a really quick and engaging video which explains very clearly how the preferences work.

The main thing to remember is you have to number every square - 1 to 8 - on the House of Representatives ballot paper – which gives us the MP - and at least 1 to 6 on the Senate paper if you vote above the line on that one.

While the candidates cannot control who you vote for they can suggest who you choose, and in which order.

Candidates' How To Vote cards

Here are the Labor, Liberal, Greens, One Nation, Liberal Democrats, Animal Justice Party, and Informed Medical Opinions, plus UAP how-to-vote cards with the placings they each suggest, but of course you can totally make up your own mind too.

Click on the slide show below to see each How To Vote card.

It's worth pointing out that if you vote for what Liberal Democrat candidate James Jackson calls The Fab 4 - that's the UAP, Liberal Democrats, Informed Medical Options and One Nation, in the order they want you too, their preferences ultimately flow the Liberal's way if Sarah Richards gets into one of the top 2 positions.

Mr Jackson told the Post this afternoon, The Fab 4 have been working closely together. He believes one of them could even get into second position in this election.

In Labor's case if Ms Templeman gets to number 1 or 2 on the primary vote, then she will benefit from Greens and Animal Justice Party preferences, if you choose to vote the way Labor suggests.

Polling stations are open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday. Good luck!

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