ABOUT one in five people have already cast their vote for the New England by-election.
The latest available figures show that almost 25,000 visited one of the region’s pre-polling booths.
While the numbers for the last day of pre-polling weren’t available, the final tally is expected to be around 30,000, as people make a last minute rush to the booths.
No public polling has been conducted, but Sportsbet has Barnaby Joyce as the clear favourite.
“It’s shaping up to be the most one sided by-election I’ve seen in my thirteen years of betting on politics,” Sportsbet’s Will Bryne said.
“Barnaby holds 99.84 per cent of the money wagered to date, astonishing really.
“We’ve taken one wager of $40,000 at odds of $1.05 and another of $10,000 also at $1.05.
“Joyce actually started on $1.72 when we thought the seat would be contested by Tony Windsor and One Nation. He’s been $1.05 since November 13, until Thursday night when we shortened him again to $1.02 currently.
“It’s safe to say that Barnaby has become the Black Caviar of political betting as his odds are as short as the great mare was for her races.”
Mr Bryne said the best backed of the other runners is Science Party candidate Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, who is sitting at $101. Independent Rob Taber is second to Mr Joyce at $11, while CountryMinded’s Pete Mailler is third with $15.
With 17 candidates - the largest field the New England electorate has seen in its 116-year history - the Australian Electoral Commission is expecting to see a surge in informal votes.
A spokesperson for the AEC said voters would be less likely to number every candidate when more are on the list.
“Analysis of past informal ballot paper studies indicates that a higher number of candidates is likely to increase the number of ballot papers ruled informal,” they said. In 2016, New England had an informal vote rate of 7.04 per cent, compared to a national average of 5.05 per cent.