Preliminary analysis shows that the Donkey vote delivered the Liberal Party government.
The Donkey vote is when a voters starts at the top of the ballot paper and preferences down the list not really taking into consideration the allocation of preferences. Added to the Donkey vote is the so called Inverse Donkey Vote where voters choose the candidate of their choice and then fill in the rest of the ballot paper by starting at the top and working their way down numbering each vacant square sequentially
Detailed analysis of the 2008 Melbourne's election has indicated that the Donkey vote was crucial in electing Robert Doyle to the position of Lord Mayor. Had Peter McMullin been placed at the top of the ballot he may have won the election.
The Donkey vote played a significant role in determining the lower-house seat of Bentleigh where Labor Rob Hudson was below the Liberal Party who had top of the list placement as such the Liberal Party had the benefit of the Donkey vote. The Donkey vote can deliver up to three% or more votes. Had Rob Hudson been placed at the top of the Ballot paper or above the Liberal Candidate then the Liberals would not have won government.
In Tasmania they use a system of roting names on the ballot paper to try and mitigate the effects of the Donkey Vote.
In Prahran, Liberal Candidate Clem Newton-Brown also top of the list poll position but it is much harder to determine exactly what the donkey vote was in Prahran because the Liberal party handed out a rather deceitful How-to-vote card where they referenced the Greens by going straight down the ticket top to bottom. In Prahran the Greens (19.30%) and Sex Party (3.18%) both preference Labor's Tony Lupton (28.64%) on their How-to-vote cards. Combines all three parties represent 51.12% of the total formal vote yet the TPP shows a significant swing away from Labor who ended up receiving a TPP vote of 44.97%Some 27% percent of the Greens and Sex Party vote did not follow the parties ticket. How many voters donkey voted by just filling in the squares? We will not know until the VEC publish the distribution of preferences table.
Either way there is a compelling argument for single member electorates to adopt a Robson Rotation type system of printing the ballot papers.