SAlt ahead as first day of SRC polling closes

403 ballots were distributed on the first day of polling.

Photography by Thomas Sargeant.

Campaigning has wrapped up for the first day of polling in the 2022 SRC election. Day one saw only one booth opened, at the Jane Foss Russell courtyard. Notably, this is the booth that students largely can’t avoid, given it sits right by the entrance to uni for those coming from or heading to Redfern station. Thus, the day’s battlefield for most voters and campaigners began as most good stories do: on the Redfern run.

With only one booth opened, the campaigner-voter ratio was strong. Few students were left un ‘walk-and-talked’. The singular booth with high campaigner density combination turned out to be a recipe for contested votes (when multiple factions campaign to the same voter), something rarely seen this early on in an election, especially given there is no Presidential race. 

Honi has received reports that members of Socialist Alternative have been changing into plain-clothes in order to stooge other campaigns. A ‘stooge’ in stupol terms is someone who poses as an undecided voter, and speaks to campaigners with the sole purpose of wasting their time. Often, this goes on for extended periods while their own faction scoops up the votes that now lie uncontested. It can also be a tactic used to find out what other factions are saying in their walk and talks, either for stealing their campaign lines, or to catch them out on dodgy talking points.

At the close of campaigning this evening, Honi’s exit polling data technically puts Left Action (Socialist Alternative) ahead of the pack, with a predicted 24.6 per cent of the votes so far. They’re followed by Switch and Grassroots, who are on 13.8 per cent and 13.3 per cent respectively. For the purposes of how their elected representatives operate on Council (working together as a singular voting bloc), the groups can be counted together, which leaves them ahead with a 27.1 per cent total. The two other groups holding a significant number of votes at this stage are Student Left Alliance and Amplify (NLS, Labor Left), who are tied at 10.3 per cent each.

To get a better picture, there were 403 votes cast in total today, 203 of which were counted in the exit polling. To predict the accuracy of Honi’s numbers, our count can be compared to the most recent exit polling done in an SRC election — by the end of the 2019 election, Honi Soit had exit-polled just over 30 per cent of voters, with the final result differing from exit polling by less than 2 per cent. Honi’s current exit polling sits at over 50 per cent of votes cast, so we can expect results to be pretty representative. Our numbers also rest on the count of formal votes, as exit polling prevents an accurate picture of informal votes — based on previous years’ Presidential elections, the informal vote is likely to be sitting around 5-7 per cent, should voters behave similarly in a Council-only election.

Notably, during the (in-person) 2019 election, the JFR booth saw 840 votes cast in the Presidential ballot on the first day of polling — today’s turnout is less than half of this, with 403 ballots issued at JFR even with it being the only booth open for the day. The last time both Honi Soit and Presidential elections went uncontested was in 2020, and had a markedly low voter turnout with 3303 ballots cast for council in total.

If you’re a campaigner or invested voter concerned by all of this information, sit tight and worry not. Vote allocation will change significantly over the next few days. Typically, booths tend to follow the voter behaviour of the area of campus they serve. This is as straightforward as it sounds — the PNR booth, for example, is where STEM tickets might tend to do better. Day one of the JFR booth, which serves a notably broad student population, is not necessarily an indicator of how the coming days will pan out.

Voting will open again tomorrow at Jane Foss Russell, as well as Fisher Library, PNR and the Charles Perkins Centre.

For a full breakdown of the day, check out our liveblog here.