ELECTION 2016: Still in line? Your vote will count

UPDATE: VOTING has officially closed at polling booths on the East Coast - although the Australian Electoral Commission has sent out a tweet letting voters still waiting in line know they will have their chance to put paper in the ballot box. 




UPDATE: QUEENSLAND just is not interested in discussing this election it seems.

A Facebook analysis of election discussions found Queensland one of the least engaged states in the nation.

Queensland spent much of Saturday as the state with the third lowest engagement.

But by 4pm the country's third most populous state had dropped out of the top five altogether.

The ACT was the most engaged area, as a percentage of monthly active users, followed by South Australia, West Australia, NSW and Victoria in fifth place.

The same analysis found Bill Shorten was the most discussed leader, Malcolm Turnbull the second and Pauline Hanson the third most discussed.

The betting odds on our future government also changed throughout the day. 

Betting has swung back to the Coalition as the countdown to polls closing begins.

Sportsbet now has the Coalition firm from $1.14 to $1.11, with 79% of wagers placed for the Liberal-National team compared to Labor's 21%.

Labor's odds have extended to $6.50 from a low of $5.75 earlier this afternoon.

"Labor had been making grounds in the betting throughout the day but in the past few hours as we approach the closing of polls it's the Coalition who are receiving the most support,'' Sportsbet spokesman Will Byrne said.

UPDATE: AH, THE perks of being a politician.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has just cast his vote in his seat of Maribyrnong - and he jumped the queue.

Shorten and his wife Chloe voted at Moonee Ponds Primary School after the Labor leader stopped to cuddle a puppy for the cameras.

"We'll find out soon enough," Shorten told reporters after voting.

He holds the seat by an 11.4% margin. There is now little more than an hour before the booths close. 

Just as a side not, Maribyrnong is the Aboriginal word for "yam" or "edible root" according to the AEC website.

UPDATE: IN CASE you missed it, take a look at ARM's analysis of the key seats to watch ahead of the count tonight:

Outside of Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne's outer suburbs, seats such as Lindsay in New South Wales and McEwen in Victoria will continue to be the focus of the two political forces' fight.

But several seats once assumed safe are now under attack from other forces, some due to widespread electoral map redistributions and others due to changing political dynamics.

In South Australia, the rise of Senator Nick Xenophon's Team has put the wind up former frontbencher Jamie Briggs in his once safe Liberal seat of Mayo.

Similarly, the Greens are putting pressure on Labor left-flank leader Anthony Albanese in the freshly redistributed suburban Sydney seat Grayndler.

In New South Wales, regional seats including Page, once Nationals Party heartland, now sit in marginal territory, while the long-time bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro could turn into a safer Labor seat.

Sen Xenophon is expected to pick up a second seat and Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania could keep her seat, while

Pauline Hanson could yet return to the federal arena with a Queensland Senate seat.

The western suburbs of Sydney will again play a key role, but parties also are closely watching the new dynamics in several regional seats, including the north coast's regional battlegrounds of Page and Richmond.

While some voters in both seats are concerned about coal seam gas, Griffith University's Professor of Communications Stephen Stockwell said earlier in the campaign he saw that issue as symbolic of the changing demographics, and politics, of both electorates.

Queenslanders have made a name for themselves nationally as some of Australia's most unpredictable voters in recent years.

With polls neck and neck, there are 10 of Queensland's 30 federal seats that could potentially be up for grabs - including the state's most marginal seats of Capricornia in central Queensland and outer Brisbane's Petrie.

Those two seats, both Coalition-held on less than 1%, are the most likely to change "if the swing is on", but Griffith University's Policy Innovation Hub director Professor Anne Tiernan believes there are at least eight other "seats to watch" in the state.



UPDATE: IN non-food related polling booth trends, one of the cuter things from this election has been the #dogvotes hashtag.

Voters are posting photos of pooches at polling booths to social media and #dogsatpollingbooths was also trending on Twitter earlier today.

Everything from Marxist socialist greyhounds to right-wing bulldogs are gracing Twitter.

Here are a few pics to break the political monotony.

They came big and small: 

They also came in furry forms that don't bark: 

UPDATE: SOUTH Australia's former Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith has thrown his weight behind Nick Xenophon, against Liberal Jamie Briggs in his home electorate of Mayo.

Mr Briggs resigned from the Coalition federal front-bench last year, after a scandal erupted over his involvement with a public servant in a Hong Kong bar.

He holds a seat many pundits expect could be at risk from the Nick Xenophon Team, with Senator Xenophon's new party polling more than 20% in SA.

Mr Hamilton-Smith told reporters at a polling booth in Mayo that Mr Briggs had not done enough to protect local jobs in the defence and car manufacturing industries.

A former state Liberal leader, Mr Hamilton-Smith now sits as an independent in the SA Parliament, after leaving the party in 2014.

But he said he was not about to become an NXT candidate in the near future, instead voting for the party's Rebekha Sharkie in Mayo.

Mr Briggs told local reporters that Mr Hamilton-Smith's voting intentions revealed that "you just can't trust these independents".

He said that people wanted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull returned and he was confident the Coalition would be.

With less than three hours until polls close, voters are still waiting in long lines to have their say in the election.

Voters across the country are complaining of long queues at polling booths, with some taking more than an hour to place their ballots.

It is no coincidence - late last year, the Australian Electoral Commission announced it would close about one in 10 booths due to an increase in early voting.

The AEC ditched 253 polling places in NSW, 133 in Queensland, 51 in South Australia, 44 in Western Australia, 38 in Tasmania, 10 in the ACT and four in Tasmania.

UPDATE: CONTROVERSIAL former independent Rob Oakeshott has firmed as the bookmaker's favourite to take the NSW seat of Cowper.

Sportsbet announced on Saturday Mr Oakeshott's odds had firmed from $2.50 to $1.75 to win.

Sitting Nationals MP Luke Hartsukeyer has moved from the $1.50 favourite to a $2 outsider.

In New England Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has firmed to a $1.22 and independent

challenger Tony Windsor has drifted to a $4 outsider.

Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott both controversially backed Julia Gillard after the 2010 election.

Mr Windsor told Sky News he believed the race was too close to call.

"It's a difficult one to call this one," he said.

"There's two definite camps and there's probably about 8% in the middle who will decide this one." 

UPDATE: HOW to vote cards may became a thing of the past in a new trend at the polling booth that has voters rejecting the hand outs from volunteers. 

Election analyst Paul Tully, a councillor in Ipswich, said the number of voters rejecting how to vote cards was as high as one in two. 

"I have just been at Augustine Heights booth and 40 to 50% of people are rejecting all how to vote cards, even with the semi-complicated senate ballot paper we have now" Cr Tully said.

"It is the highest number of people I have ever seen to reject all how to vote cards.

"I think that people are more confident.

"There is more information online for people to vote without a how to vote card.

"It is a growing trend.

"When I first came to the Ipswich area in 1974 you might get 5% of people rejecting all how to vote cards.

"Now it is between 40 to 50%, which is exceptionally high.

UPDATE:  MOST voters back marriage equality, a new poll has shown, and today could be the day it decides who will next govern Australia. 

 It will be a key issue for some voters whoever wins the election today, particularly for Malcolm Turnbull if he wins, with a new poll showing most Australians back marriage equality.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll published today showed some 70% of all voters supported access to civil marriage for the nation's LGBTI community.

More than half of the Coalition voters' polled backed it - at 58% - while 79% of Labor voters supported the proposal and a whopping 97% of Greens voters want marriage equality.

Pro-marriage equality campaigner Dr Shirleene Robinson said the poll showed the Australian people now "firmly accept" the proposal.

While Labor backs the idea, the Coalition wants a plebiscite on the issue, and it could become a key problem for Mr Turnbull if his government is returned at the polls, given divisions with the Coalition on it.

Turnbull campaigned on the platform of a plebiscite if elected, though it would be non-binding. MPs would be able to vote how they wished regardless of the result of the plebiscite. 

His rival Shorten made an election promise to legalise same-sex marriage early in a Labor government although his MPs would also be able to make a conscience vote. 

Other big policies expected to sway swing voters today include Medicare. 

Julie Bishop voted in her electorate a short time ago and hit out at the Opposition's campaign on Medicare.

"At the heart of Labor campaign, they resorted to a fundamental lie that the coalition would privatise Medicare," she said.

"That's not true, Labor know it's not true, yet they continue to deceive the people about it."

On a less serious note, other MPs are winning over their constituents with some unusual skills. 

Anthony Albanese got the party started at Annandale Public School this morning, scratching the DJ decks while playing Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.

If the preteen mosh pit that formed was anything to go by, DJ Albo is a hit with the kids.

UPDATE: DEMOCRACY sausage purists are up in arms after Bill Shorten displayed an unconventional snag ingestion technique.

Twitter has blown up since Shorten exhibited his unwieldy two-handed sausage sizzle method and took his first bite from the middle of his bread roll.

"It's the taste of democracy. Very good," he said.

Social media users have roundly condemned our possible future PM for not starting at the end like a normal person.

The Labor leader plans to hit four sausage sizzles at different polling booths today. 

At least it was not an onion. 

It's another sign of the mighty power the democracy sausage has at this stage of polling day - it's one of the most popular topics across social media. 

Much of its popularity is down to its lack of presence at many polling booths. Twitter said plenty of users were lamenting the lack of a sausage sizzle at their local booth. 

Journalists captured the unusual eating style of the Labor leader earlier: 

UPDATE: BILL Shorten says he is fit and ready to hit the ground running as Australia's next prime minister.

The Opposition Leader told Channel 9's Today Show he had just cracked the 1000km mark on his regular morning runs, which have become a photo-opp feature of the election.

"To be honest, I'm as fit as I've been since my mid-20s," he said.

"I haven't been as light since then, so I guess that's a good thing.

"And it means if we win the election tonight, I'm fit and ready and energetic to hit the ground running tomorrow as the next prime minister of Australia."

Still campaigning as the first voters went to the polls this morning, Mr Shorten said he was willing to work with the

Liberals to push through Labor policies if elected to the country's top political post.

"People in the parliament who are willing to vote for our legislative program, we will work with," he said.

"This might surprise you, but if I get to form a government… if enough people reward us with their vote because

we've got the right policies, I'll reach out to Malcolm Turnbull (as leader of the Opposition).

"Let's see what we agree on. Let's see what the infrastructure programs are we can give a tick to."

Mr Shorten said he would ask an opposition-leading Turnbull to reconsider his position on marriage equality and climate change.

"What I won't do is I won't compromise our policy program," he said.

UPDATE: VOTERS hanging outside packed polls across the country are facing an extra-long wait as those already inside figure out what to do with the enormous senate ballot papers in each state. 

In Queensland, voters have a bit of wrangling to do when they get to the booth thanks to the length of the paper - 122 candidates are vying for their vote.  A whopping 151 candidates are on the New South Wales ballot paper. 

Voters can either number a minimum of six parties above the line, or a minimum of 12 candidates below the line. 

As a double dissolution election, so-called because both the lower and upper house are dissolved, today is a rare chance for voters to have their say across the entire Senate. 

At a normal election, only half of the Senate would be up for re-election. This time all 76 senators will have to wait until the polls are closed to discover whether they've retained their seats. 


EARLIER: IT'S all about the sausage sizzle for voters this morning as they head to polling booths across the country, ready to vote in Australia's next leader. 

Following a campaign that featured the first leader's debate hosted via social media, Facebook released statistics of what its users where sharing on their election experience in the first two hours of polls opening. 

Between 6.30am and 7.30am this morning, Facebook users let go of sharing their political views to talk about the process. 

Facebook said the words 'happy voting' and 'good luck' were among the top word pairs in election-related conversation this morning. 

Sitting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader are the two most talked-about pollies today. Facebook said One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was a surprise third, in front of Greens leader Richard Di Natale. 

On Twitter, the #ausvotes hashtag has gotten plenty of love as users cash in on its official emoji - a sausage sanga. 

Prominent candidates were out to share their early election day experiences alongside prominent voters. 

Therese Rein, wife of former PM Kevin Rudd, praised the Australian democratic system. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop went booth-hopping across her Perth electorate and shared some of the treats voters can expect to find after the vote. 

The outcome of today's election is expected to be a nail-biter, with both major parties in with a chance at gaining power.  

Bookies have put the Coalition in front though as the favourites, with a Labor win at $8.00 odds. The chance of a hung parliament was considered more likely by punters with odds at $$4.20. 

The Coalition were clear $1.08 favourites. 

Polls will remain open until 6pm. 

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