Mar 9, 2018

Rundle: bring back the election night tally rooms of old!

The digital revolution has made the tally rooms unnecessary, and we are worse off for it.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The Tasmanian Election Tally Room crowd. AAP.

"You not talking to me?" the rather glamorously coated middle-aged woman said, as she made her way through the crowd to the bar at Hobart’s tally room at last Saturday’s election.

"Sure as hell I’m not talking to you, you’re a bloody Liberal," said the somewhat irascible man beside me, already getting his defeat on.

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11 thoughts on “Rundle: bring back the election night tally rooms of old!

  1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Could be paid for by the Electoral Commission taking 5% of all political donations – which of course should all be declared the instant they are received.

  2. Jussarian

    This reminds me of one of the arguments in Roderick Hart’s ‘Seducing America: How Television Charms the Modern Voter’, that politics was something that you had to go out into the public space to partake in, prior to ubiquitous TV watching. He recalled his whole neighbourhood going out to see Ike go by once during an election and the atmosphere was not dissimilar to what Guy has depicted here. Sadly, Guy’s lament will be no more effective than Hart’s.

  3. AR

    Another old fart bemoaning summat which the Gen banging on the doors/barricades cannot even comprehend.
    Society? Community? A group that thinks anomie is a hip new coffee shop, as aware of mutuality as piranha with dentures?
    For a decade or more, I have been unable to find enough fellow traveller saddos for a traditional Don’s Party though in 2010 I did manage to find a half dozen in an olde Ostie Berlin bar who could still organise something Unter Den Linden.
    BTW, what is “an outside outdoors broadcast.“? Beyond the atmosphere? In orbit?

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      It was a tradition among my friends through our 20’s that we all got together and got very drunk indeed on election nights, and called it Don’s Party, wherever we were. It was a great tradition.

  4. zut alors

    The thrill of election night is being eroded by technology – coincidentally going downhill since ABC’s Kezza O’Brien retired as the official MC.

    Opening polling booths several days prior to election day means fewer locals gather in schools, church halls & community centres hence less personal interaction in the electorates. Can’t recall exactly how many pre-voted in 2016 but it was approx 27%.

  5. Kevin Rennie

    Couldn’t agree more. I covered the 2007 Federal election in Canberra, including the tally room. The video compilation is The Poll That Counts https://youtu.be/GT1iNqNZ738 . It captures much of the atmosphere of the old election night gathering. the public area was packed.

  6. mikeb

    I’ve worked at a couple of tally nights including the Keating victory back when. The buzz is great fun and democracy needs to be seen in action. Hopefully the Tassie tally room will remain.

  7. Wazza Mobi

    The 21st Century seems to be following the depressive three decades of the 20th Century. The digital revolution is giving Society the gift of more dysfunction rather than less. My old bones miss the camaraderie of public meetings in politics and “extended family communities”. Sigh

  8. Dog's Breakfast

    It’s another example of the digital being less a product than the analogue.

    Don’t get me started on digital TV. For crying out loud, do you have to be next door to a transmission tower to get uninterrupted reception? What a farce.

  9. Arky

    “Why on earth would you abolish such things, simply because of the expense? Quite aside from being a live and real event, it’s a TV event of the sort that networks need”

    Then let them pay for it.

    “Guy Rundle advocates spending public money on TV event for benefit of commercial TV” is a bit of an unusual story isn’t it?

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