New candidates have increased their votes while existing councillors have improved their standing in the latest Goulburn Mulwaree Council election results.
Mayor of the past five years, Bob Kirk, has stretched out his lead to 3294 votes, with 100 per cent of booth ballot papers counted from the weekend poll. It's a 1408 increase on Saturday night, when 40 per cent of the poll had been counted.
At this stage he is the only confirmed councillor, after exceeding the progressive 1363 vote quota. With preference distribution not starting until December 17, returning officer Lars Gudiksen said a full result may not be known until next week.
Since Saturday, independent Michael Prevedello has also shot up in the ranking. He's currently sitting second on 1320 primary votes, up from 573 on Saturday.
Electoral Commission first preference figures at at noon Monday also showed the following votes:
Jason Shepherd (Labor) - 1111
Dan Strickland - 1048
Andy Wood (Shooters, Fishers, Farmers) - 921
Peter Walker - 827
Carol James - 835
Steve Ruddell - 775
Andrew Banfield - 695
Margaret O'Neill - 607
Leah Ferrara (The Greens) - 593
Anna Wurth-Crawford (Labor) - 467
Danielle Marsden-Ballard (Labor) - 331
Tim Dally - 296
Nathan Smith (Labor) - 181
Warren Murray (Labor) 178
Adam Milani - 148
Former deputy mayor, Peter Walker, who was running eighth on 416 votes on Saturday night, has pulled in more support since Saturday. Likewise, existing councillors Carol James, Andrew Banfield and Margaret O'Neill have improved their positions.
The Electoral Commission has counted 14,795 ballot papers from weekend booths and pre-polls with 1168 (7.89 per cent) of these informal. There were 6157 pre-poll votes (384 informal) for Goulburn Mulwaree, from the eligible 21,530 voting population.
Returning officer Lars Gudiksen said figures were still inconclusive because i-votes and postal ballots still had to be counted. Postal vote applications close on December 17.
He told The Post that electoral staff did not receive feedback that the ballot paper was 'confusing.' Candidate Margaret O'Neill claimed on Sunday that many people were confused by the voting card, which listed the five-member Labor ticket appearance on the left-hand side and independent candidates on the right.
She said her scrutineers detected ballot papers which listed one to five on the Labor ticket and one to five for ungrouped candidates.
Another scrutineer, Lee Borodale, backed this up. He believed many misunderstood the instruction to choose a "minimum of five" candidates and instead listed them in both columns.
Mr Gudiksen said the 7.89pc informal vote was not high compared to some other areas. In some Sydney areas it was 23pc.
Former Labor senator, Dr Ursula Stephens agreed. She was scrutineering at the Scout Hall booth on Saturday night and detected the same one to five numbering on both sides of the ballot.
However she pointed out that its format mirrored the 2012 ballot paper when five independents, all Labor Party members, ran a ticket.
As for Labor's chances, she believed Goulburn branch president Jason Shepherd would be elected. However, number two runner, Anna Wurth-Crawford's prospects would likely come down to preferences. The group had claimed 2268 votes as of noon Monday, which was 1.6 times the quota.
"Anna received a lot of votes in her own right. People had different motives for choosing her, including that they wanted more women on the council," Dr Stephens said.
She believed Labor's position on the left side of the ballot might have been a "psychological advantage" but people were generally thoughtful about their choices.
"We are seeing a lot of close votes and it's a signal that people want fresh faces and greater community engagement by their councillors," she said.
"I don't think anyone should be taking their positions for granted."
However Dr Stephens said incumbency could prove an advantage with preferences and pull some existing councillors across the line.
Saturday's poll ran smoothly overall, with election officials keeping people COVID safe. Mr Gudiksen said there was only one incident at Marulan where a man refused to wear a mask and didn't check in with a QR code. He was reported to authorities.
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