Disclaimer: Honi editors Pranay Jha, Nell O’Grady, and Liam Thorne are not involved in USU Board Election coverage.
In the absence of any spectacular drama on the ground in this year’s USU race, the most interesting thing to emerge from day one of polling were the various preference deals brokered by candidates.
Despite Caitlin Brown telling Honi that she has no international student related policy platforms, arguing that she finds it hard to empathise with international students “when [she’s] not in their position”, she has entered a preference deal with Yinfeng (Benny) Shen. Shen has instructed his voters to preference Brown second on his how-to-vote cards.
According to Honi’s exit polling, Shen is polling highest on first preferences, with 23.7 per cent of the vote. Brown’s preference deal with Shen may be the most strategic thing the self-proclaimed Independent has done for her campaign. Brown has accrued only 3.7 per cent of the primary vote, but 15.4 per cent of the secondary vote. If Shen breaks quota – which he likely will, if our exit polling numbers are anything to go by – Brown will collect a substantial amount of these second preferences.
Brown is not the only candidate to have landed herself in a favourable preference deal. Ellie Stephenson is receiving the second preferences of both Nick Forbutt and Ruolin (Irene) Ma, putting her at third place in the secondary vote. Preferences will prove essential to Stephenson’s election provided her primary vote continues to hover at just below 10 per cent over the next two days.
Of note is the lack of a deal between campus Labor factions – there is no preferential support between Tom Manousaridis (Unity) and Forbutt (NLS), although both named each other as ideological allies in their Honi interviews.
It’s clear that the race is tight, and that preference flows will play a complex and decisive role in the eventual election of six candidates. It’s worth remembering that no more than two non-cis men candidates can be excluded. The fate of one candidate can be speculated upon with greater clarity than others, however. At the end of day one, it’s hard to see a way forward for Tina Lee. Even with third preferences flowing from Shen, Lee has garnered only 1.2 per cent of the exit poll votes. With only three campaigners on the ground, goodness me: it’s not looking good for Tina Lee.
Follow our live blog and exit poll throughout the week for updates.