Divisional Clerk for Page Malcolm Eggins does the official ballot paper draw in Grafton yesterday, assisted by Page Divisional Returning Officer Leigh Thurgood and Divisional Clerk Cindy Mitchell.
Divisional Clerk for Page Malcolm Eggins does the official ballot paper draw in Grafton yesterday, assisted by Page Divisional Returning Officer Leigh Thurgood and Divisional Clerk Cindy Mitchell.

Greens win donkey vote in Page

IT HAPPENED at high noon and attracted a small crowd, but it wasn't a Western film and no one was balloted out – in fact, quite the opposite.

The battle for the hearts and minds of the voters of Page began at the Grafton Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) office in King Street, with the confirmation of six candidates for the August 21 Federal election and the all-important draw that would decide their positions on the ballot paper.

Kevin Hogan was the only candidate to attend.

Each candidate was allocated a random numbered ball to represent them in the ballot draw.

It was then up to Malcolm Eggins, the Divisional Clerk for Page, to determine the outcome by drawing the balls from the lottery cage – blindfolded of course.

“Malcolm's done it for years, he's never actually seen it (the draw done),” Page AEC returning officer Leigh Thurgood said.

A candidate winning the top position on the ballot paper is important because it is believed to deliver the so-called ‘donkey vote' – the votes of those apathetic souls who cast their votes in order of who appears on the ballot paper. The donkey vote is believed to be worth only a couple of per cent, at the most, but that's enough to tip an election in a tight poll.

This year the donkey is voting Green in Page and giving its preferences to Labor.

Greens candidate Jeff Johnson scored the top position on the ballot paper, followed in order by Labor's Janelle Saffin, The Nationals' Kevin Hogan, first-time Independent Merle Summerville, Democrat Julia Melland and election regular, Doug Behn.

Although coming in last on the ballot paper, there is some consolation for Mr Behn. Just as thereis a donkey vote, there is also a‘reverse donkey' – informal voters who mark their papers from the bottom up.

The six Page candidates named yesterday join another nine from Richmond in the broader election battle that will roll across the Northern Rivers over the coming three weeks.

Across the nation, the Australian electoral commission revealed a total 1198 people had put themselves up for a spot in the Federal Parliament, including 849 for the 150 House of Represent-atives seats and 349 for the 40Senate vacancies.

The number of men standing across the nation more than double the number of women, at 845 to 353.

Locally, the genders are split 50/50 among the Page candidates.

However, in Richmond the boys outnumber the girls two to one.

Nationally, the number of candidates is down by more than 200people.

Locally, the number of candidates in Richmond has risen, from seven in the 2007 Federal poll to nine this year, while the number of Page candidates has tumbled from 10 in 2007 to only six this year.



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