Jimmy in front, but …



As the number of new votes counted from last week’s election slows to a trickle, the picture of what is going to decide who becomes mayor, and who fills the other eight spots on council, is becoming clearer.

Today’s update to the numbers shows 9,256 votes will decide the next mayor, with a further 417 that are informal, and postal votes will continue to be received until September 10.

Last election 9869 votes for mayor were counted, and as voter turnout has been down across the Territory, this would suggest that there are not too many more votes to come in.

Jimmy Cocking sits at the front of the race with 2911 primary votes, while Matt Paterson sits 616 votes behind, and Eli Melky a further 403 votes behind him. Unless one of the other candidates receives a couple thousand votes between now and the 10th, one of these three will become the next mayor.

With the numbers how they are, the winning candidate will need to amass 4629 (50%+1) votes through primary and preference votes: 1718 votes short, Mr Cocking is closest to the mark.

Preferencing is counted by redistributing votes from the lowest polling candidates to the voter’s next choice, and working up the list until a candidate passes the post.

Taking out the votes for the three frontrunners, there are 2158 votes for the other candidates at this stage.

This is not enough to get either Mr Melky or Mr Paterson over the line, while Mr Cocking would need 80% of them to win.

Steve Brown and Aaron Blacker hold 40% of these remaining votes, and as they sit at the opposite end of politics to Mr Cocking, and have both placed him in the bottom two places on their how to vote cards, it’s very unlikely that Mr Cocking will make it past the mark with the remaining votes.

That means that whichever candidate sits in third at this point will have their votes redistributed, and the next mayor will be decided.

For Mr Melky, that means that he will need to make up through preferences the 403 votes he trails Mr Paterson by, in order to stay in the game.

Nearly two thirds (61.4%) of those enrolled have voted for mayor.

In the race to fill the other eight spots, much rests on whether Mr Cocking is elected mayor or not.

As of August 30, 9084 formal votes have been counted, and 511 informal. Unlike in the mayoral vote, this is 202 more formal votes than last election.

As it stands, the quota to become a councillor is 1011 votes, which Mr Cocking and Mr Melky have both passed, as has Mark Coffey.

Once they have passed the quota, the surplus votes are reallocated to their next preference, but if Mr Cocking or for that matter Mr Melky were elected mayor, their preferences would be reallocated at the very beginning of the preference counting.

Since aside from these three there are 10 candidates who sit between 234 and 487 votes this could alter the shape of the new council dramatically, but it won’t be until September 13 that we find out.


Last updated 2 September 2021, 11am (minor edits).


  1. I dont know why local elections are preference votes. Pretty clear who people voted for, both for Mayor and Council.

  2. In my view, the system of preferential votes in local government elections is confusing for all and time consuming.
    Primary votes (counting early votes, on the day and postal votes) are enough to show who are the candidates chosen by the people to improve the quality of life for some 26,000 people over the next four years as Mayor and eight (only) Councillors.
    Whereas in State / Territory elections and Federal elections the preferences allocated to candidates are most indicative of which party, in a mere two-party system, will reflect the policy choices and future political directions of the whole nation.

  3. @ Watchn: Preference voting is fairer. It gives a voice to those who voted for a particular candidate and also those who did not.

  4. It isn’t perfect and rather messy in such as Alice Springs Council elections.
    Without a preference voting system minor parties and independents would have Buckley’s.
    Australian politics is already tweedle dee / tweedle dumb enough.
    Optional preferential voting is a good compromise, I think.

  5. @ Jon and Frank: Till now I did not understand or agree with preferential voting, but now I understand.
    Preferential allows people to have their other choices and views represented.
    When people use a “how to vote card” they often giving votes without meaning too.
    I know Jimmy Cocking said that people should be fined for abstention; but in my opinion it will increase donkey votes.


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