Wednesday, 11am: The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) second count of votes in the seat of Cowper has progressed.
Fourteen of 70 polling places have been counted, or 10.34% of the two candidate preferred vote.
Of the 11,535 votes counted on Wednesday morning, Luke Hartsuyker is ahead with 51.89% of the two party preferred vote while Oakeshott sits behind at 48.11%.
Cowper was listed on Tuesday afternoon as one of five seats in the nation ‘yet to be determined’. The AEC has now removed Cowper from that list.
Mr Hartsuyker secured 42,356 first preference votes, or 46.46 per cent, with his closest rival, independent candidate Rob Oakeshott on 24,214, or 26.56 per cent, the vote tally showed on Sunday.
An AEC spokesperson said the second count is a normal operating procedure and a quality assurance measure.
Tuesday afternoon: Confusion reigns in Cowper
THE Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) online tally room statistics have ignited speculation that the final results for the seat of Cowper are not correct.
Incumbent Luke Hartsuyker claimed victory in the seat late on Saturday evening.
Mr Hartsuyker secured 42,356 first preference votes, or 46.46 per cent, with his closest rival, independent candidate Rob Oakeshott on 24,214, or 26.56 per cent, the vote count showed on Sunday.
Figures for the two candidate preferred vote were not published on the AEC website on Sunday.
However at 1.30pm Tuesday, two candidate preferred figures were published on the tally room page for Cowper. They showed that just 6 of 70 polling places had been counted, or 1.27% of the vote, and Oakeshott was ahead of Hartsuyker with 51.6% of the two party preferred vote.
The seat of Cowper is also one of six seats in the nation on the AEC website listed as ‘yet to be determined’.
A spokesperson from the AEC told the Port Macquarie News the counts are proceeding as expected.
“Over the last two days we have had the declaration and postal votes going back to their own divisions,” the spokesperson said.
“We will start to see more and more seats getting close to the final count.”
More than 81% of the 118,388 people in Cowper enrolled to vote went to the polls, with 5.02% lodging informal votes.
The spokesperson confirmed that the second count is underway for Cowper which is a normal operating procedure and a quality assurance measure.
He said they were hoping to see the results by the end of the week, but it depends on how big the count is.
Rob Oakeshott said it is likely the final result will not change.
“The is the first look at the preference flows. More than likely people shouldn’t get too excited that the seat of Cowper won’t be anything other than a return to the National party.
“If the preference flows hold as they currently do for the first six booths, it well could be a completely different result.”
The first six booths counted for the two candidate preferred vote are Thora, Gleniffer, Hat Head, Kundabung, Mylestom and Taylor’s Arm.
“Where Cowper is different to every other seat of Australia we didn’t get to look at the preference flow on election night. We are now seeing those preference flows are stronger than predicted. This is going to be a lot closer than was represented on election night.”
Luke Hartsuyker was not concerned on Tuesday afternoon.
“I stand by our projections based on the material we received through our scrutineers that we will retain the seat of Cowper,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“Drawing a conclusion from those (6) booths is an electoral nonsense.”
He said those results will not hold past the first major booth.
“You can’t draw any conclusions from what you see there.”
Meanwhile, in more election-related confusion …
Senator Glenn Lazarus has voiced his frustration at the lack of ballot papers on Saturday.