Federal Election 2022: What time will we know the result?

·News Editor
·4-min read

It won't be long after polls close before we have an idea of who will form Australia's next government.

Polling closes at 6pm on Saturday, when workers on the east coast will begin tallying up the votes.

Less than two hours later, a picture will begin to emerge as to whether Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese will be prime minister.

Election picture likely to emerge by 7.30pm

If you're on the beers, you'll want to check in as early as 90 minutes after polls close.

"What I always say is that by 7.30pm we know what's happening," ABC's election guru Antony Green said.

ABC election analyst Antony Green on the timing of vote count.
Millions of eyes will be on ABC election analyst Antony Green tonight. Source: AAP

"We either know if one side or the other has won, or we know whether we're going to have to wait longer," he told the ABC's The Party Room podcast ahead of election day.

If, as polls suggest, it comes down to the wire, we might have to wait a little longer for more counting to be done in key seats, including potentially those in Western Australia, in order to project a winner. That scenario would push things late into the night.

When will the election loser concede?

After a shock loss in 2019, then Labor leader Bill Shorten fronted the media for a bitter concession speech at about 11.30pm AEST. But the result was clear hours beforehand with Penny Wong enduring an uncomfortable night on the ABC's election desk as Labor saw an expected victory taken away as votes rolled in.

When Scott Morrison pulled off his "miracle" win in 2019, Antony Green called it at about 9:30pm AEST.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives an election victory speech in 2019.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison celebrates an unexpected victory in 2019. Source: AAP

In a tight contest, a slight procedural change this year should help speed things up a little with nearly six million pre-poll and postal votes this election.

"Hopefully we shouldn't have to wait as long this time because they have changed the way they count pre-poll votes," Mr Green explained.

"Pre-poll votes are a problem because you've got maybe 10,000 or 15,000 votes to count in a single pre-poll centre. The hardest thing to do when you start counting is to take all the ballot papers out and unfold them – it takes forever."

This year, workers will get to open the boxes at 4pm to start the sorting of ballot papers while still commencing the count at 6pm. If we're waiting on those votes, they should come in before midnight.

What if there's a hung parliament?

This is where things could get drawn out.

"We might have anywhere between three and 13 independents [who win a seat]," says Dr Ron Levy from the Australian National University.

When it happened in 2010, both major parties made their case in the ensuing days before Labor's Julia Gillard was ultimately backed to form government.

"If you have a whole bunch of independents, it might not be as simple as that," Dr Levy told Yahoo News Australia. "It might take longer, and you might never get a full commitment."

While he thinks a hung parliament would be a good result for the effective and fair functioning of the parliament with respect to the wishes of voters, it would mean we won't get an idea of which party will form minority government until days after election night.

This all pertains to the House of Representatives as the Senate voting takes a little longer to shake out.

Worker shortage could impact timing of vote count

However one spanner in the works could be a shortage of Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) workers due to the tight labour market.

The AEC has alerted certain electorates in regional Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia that some polling places wouldn't be able to open due to a lack of workers. However Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers earlier said an overwhelming majority of the nation’s planned 7,000 polling places will be unaffected.

Voters stand in line on polling day. What time will the result be known?
Some regional polling places have been impacted by a lack of available AEC workers. Source: AAP

"Trying to get all the extra staff to do this on a Saturday night is very difficult, especially in a tight labour market. Most people who are in the casual employment market are out working in pubs where they get more money.

"So it may be that the Commission can't count all the pre-polls on the night because they can't get the staff and the postals aren't counted on the night, they'll put some in the next day."

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