Zed Seselja chats with one of his campaign volunteers - right - Rich Armitage and MLA Alistair Coe at a post BBQ at Zed's parents place. Photo: Melissa Adams
Liberal Senate candidate Zed Seselja has surged past the required one-third of the vote in his own right after further counting of votes on Monday.
Even before achieving the psychological boost of gaining a notional quota on the partial count, Mr Seselja's position was firming, on the back of preferences from the Rise Up Australia Party, the Animal Justice Party and the Stable Population Party.
Adding to his confidence of winning is strong support for the Liberal Party in pre-polling ballot papers.
Greens Senate candidate Simon Sheikh with his wife Anna Rose arrive to vote at the AEC pre-polling booth at Hobart Place in Canberra on Saturday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The commission has counted almost 200,000 of the votes cast for the ACT Senate race, or three-quarters of those enrolled.
Labor's Kate Lundy is assured of retaining her position, focusing attention on the race for the territory's second Senate spot, usually held by the Liberal Party.
However his rival, Greens candidate Simon Sheikh, still holds out hope, saying counting of below-the-line votes on Wednesday will favour him.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Seselja reached 33.37 per cent of the primary votes counted so far, just above the required one-third quota.
''We're very hopeful that we're still in with a chance,'' Mr Sheikh said.
''Our scrutineers are reporting a surge in below-the-line votes for the Greens so we think it will be a matter of days if not weeks before we know the final result here.''
However Mr Seselja is sounding increasingly confident.
''Obviously it's pleasing, I think it's significantly tracking in our direction,'' he said.
''On the face of it, this appears to be a race between Labor and Liberal as to who will be the first senator elected with Greens appearing to be a distant third.
''When you have 12 parties vying for votes, we've seen in other states it's been difficult for the major parties to get the kind of vote they would expect, so I am really pleased our vote appears to be going forward even as the Labor and Greens vote is going significantly backwards.
''The pre-polls are better than expected, I was expecting we would get a good vote in the pre-polls but on the numbers I've seen, they are exceeding expectations.''
The pre-polling results on the AEC website show, for a total of 22,000 votes, support for the Liberals at 43 per cent at the Gungahlin booth and 39 per cent at Tuggeranong.
The Greens say 40 per cent of its Senate vote in the ACT was cast as below-the-line votes and will strongly favour Mr Sheikh.
However, the votes may not be sufficient to push the Greens into a winning position, particularly as the party will not benefit from a hoped-for large surplus in Labor votes.
The Greens also believe they will benefit from pre-poll votes, which were cast in record numbers at this election. Following a growing trend in recent elections, almost 80,000 of the 265,000 voters registered in the ACT cast their vote before election day.
The closeness of the contest means the outcome may depend on postal votes received this week.
While the Animal Justice Party, which has first place on the ACT Senate ballot paper - earning the so-called donkey vote - is directing its preferences to the Liberal Party ahead of the Greens, the Greens will benefit from preferences from most of the other minor parties.