SA Election: Vote Count Begins After 1.2 Million Cast their Ballots

The polls have closed and vote counting is now in full swing across South Australia, where the parties today made their final pitches to voters after a four-week election campaign.

At 8:30pm, the ABC’s election computer is predicting Labor has so far won 18 seats, the Liberals 19 and SA Best none, with three falling to independents and seven still in doubt.

Indications are that Nick Xenophon will lose his battle for Hartley, with the ABC predicting the seat to be retained by Liberal candidate Vincent Tarzia.

But there is still plenty of counting to go in the seat.

More than 45 per cent of the vote has already been counted, with the Liberals leading on primary vote around 38 per cent.

SA Best’s primary vote is currently around 14 per cent — significantly less than the 32 per cent predicted in a Newspoll a few months ago.

“The time for post-mortems is not tonight. Maybe the next few days,” Mr Xenophon said.

“Look, we have spread ourselves too thin. We have candidates that came forward to give the major parties a run for their money.”

The day unfolded not entirely without controversy, with more claims of dirty tricks and underhanded tactics.

Labor raised eyebrows with its choice of T-shirt colours for its volunteers handing out how-to-vote cards on behalf of MP Dana Wortley in the seat of Torrens.

The volunteers were in purple — the colour favoured by the Dignity Party and worn by its volunteers.

Nick Xenophon’s SA Best also referred the Liberals to the state’s Electoral Commission (ECSA) over a Liberal poster showing him with Labor leader Jay Weatherill.

The Glynde Lutheran Church in the electorate of Hartley.

But now the booths are shut and counting can begin, the big question remains: when will we have a result?

Party leaders themselves have expressed optimism that that might occur tonight, but pundits (as well as some ALP internal polling) are suggesting a more drawn-out process and have pointed to the prospect of a hung parliament.

That was the case in 2014, when uncertainty dragged on for more than a week before independents and kingmakers Geoff Brock and the late Bob Such aligned themselves with Labor.

A complicating factor this election is, of course, the Xenophon factor. Despite this morning’s Newspoll showing support had slipped within the last few months, SA Best remains likely to influence the outcome in one way or another, either via preferences or the balance of power.

“I’m too tired to be nervous,” Mr Xenophon said earlier.

Despite facing corruption allegations which he denies, ex-Liberal-turned-independent Troy Bell is leading the race in Mount Gambier.

He all but ruled out reaching a deal with Mr Weatherill in the event of a hung parliament.

“Definitely not Jay Weatherill, I will say that straight out,” Mr Bell said.

“Labor would have to come to the party in terms of a 10-year ban on fracking.

“It is a non-negotiable. There would have to be a 10-year ban on fracking before I enter any conversations with either side. It makes it a little bit of easier with the Liberals, obviously.”

Nick Xenophon shakes hands with a voter.

A Channel Nine exit poll is predicting a Steven Marshall victory on a two-party preferred basis of 50.5 per cent to Labor’s 49.5 per cent.

“We haven’t got long to wait now. We’ve put forward some good policies,” Mr Marshall told the network.

The exit poll predicts a primary vote breakdown of the Liberals on 36 per cent, Labor 31 per cent, SA Best 15 per cent and the Greens 8 per cent.

About a million South Australians cast their votes today, after the ECSA received about 215,000 pre-poll ballots.

“On election night, polling booths will conduct a scrutiny and indicative count of first preferences in each House of Assembly district,” the ECSA explained.

“A two-candidate preferred count will also be conducted for each House of Assembly district.”

But that count will be re-checked on Sunday, and the ECSA is expecting more than 300,000 declaration votes (cast by voters at booths outside their electorates) to be sorted on Monday before counting can resume.

On Wednesday, “additional resources will be allocated to assist House of Assembly Returning Officers in marginal seats,” the ECSA said.

“Scanning and data verification of Legislative Council ballot papers commences.”

But no seats will be formally declared “until all votes have been counted” in about a week’s time.

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