Electoral Offences

The Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 (the 'PE&E Act') and the Local Government Act 1993 and regulations establish a variety of criminal offences for the purposes of State and Local Government elections, respectively. Electoral offences apply around and during the period leading up to and including election day (at State level the election period commences on the issue of the Writs; at local government level, the election period commences on the close of rolls date).

The NSW Electoral Commission is empowered under the PE&E Act to investigate and enforce election offences in relation to local government elections, state elections and by-elections.

Examples of particular offences which apply during the election period leading up to an election include:

  • failure to enrol
  • failure of an elector to vote
  • voting more than once at an election
  • hacking into the NSWEC iVote system, which carries a maximum penalty of $11,000 and/or 3 years gaol
  • misuse of protected electoral enrolment information
  • breaching the secrecy of an iVote - carries a maximum penalty of $550 and/or 6 months gaol
  • electoral bribery - includes asking for or receiving any property or benefit in order to influence or affect the vote of another person (electoral bribery must be of a serious nature calculated to influence the vote of a particular person in a particular way, and does not include the general provision of food and drink at "sausage sizzles", or benefit concerts and the like during election campaigns)
  • false statements in electoral forms including claims for enrolment and nomination papers. In relation to applying for, or casting, an iVote the maximum penalty is $11,000 and/or 2 years gaol
  • printing, publication or distribution of electoral material, such as how-to-vote cards, pamphlets, handbills and posters, that do not show the name and address of the person authorising the advertisement, and the name and place of business of the printer
  • printing, publication or distribution of electoral material that is likely to mislead an elector in relation to the casting of a vote (this offence does not refer to the truth or otherwise of the content of the advertisement, but to the manner of marking ballot papers)
  • canvassing or displaying election posters within 6 metres of the entrance to a polling place on election day
  • distributing electoral material on election day that has not first been registered by the NSWEC

This is not an exhaustive list. For a full account of all electoral offences and the penalties that apply, the latest reprint of the state and local government elections legislation must be consulted, with the benefit of legal advice where necessary.

See also the relevant Handbook for Parties, Groups, Candidates and Scrutineers