Local Government elections

Nominations, including the Candidate Information Sheet, can be lodged with the Returning Officer from the day the rolls close, up to 12 noon on nomination day, which is the fifth Wednesday before the day of the election.

The Candidate Information Sheet must contain the candidate’s full name and enrolled address and be signed by the candidate and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. It may also contain other details such as the registered political party (if any) which has endorsed the candidate, and any statements as to the candidate’s policies and beliefs.

The nomination deposit is $125 for an individual candidate, or $625 for a group of 6 or more candidates wishing to form a group.

The nomination deposit will be refunded if:

  • the election is uncontested
  • the candidate withdraws their nomination
  • the candidate, or anyone in the group to which the candidate belongs, is elected or receives at least 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes or
  • the candidate dies before election day.

Any deposit not refunded to the candidate is forfeited to the council.

Access to the list of electors

Once the nomination process has been completed, candidates for Local Government elections may request the NSWEC to provide a list of electors relevant to the election they are contesting. Candidates in undivided councils are entitled to a list of electors for the whole area, whereas candidates in divided councils are only entitled to the list for the particular ward they are contesting.

Candidates must use this list only in connection with their candidacy at the election, and there are significant penalties for anyone (including candidates) using the electoral roll for a purpose other than in pursuit of their candidature for the election for which the roll has been prepared.

Draw for position on ballot paper

A draw to determine positions of candidates and groups (where applicable) is conducted by the Returning Officer at his or her office, as soon as practicable, after the close of nominations.

The manner in which the draw occurs differs depending on whether there are individual candidates or groups. In the case of individuals, the first candidate drawn will appear first on the ballot paper. The remaining candidates will appear in a single column in descending order as they are drawn.

In the case of groups, the draw is conducted in 2 parts. The first draw is to determine the order of the groups and follows the same process as for individuals. The first group drawn will be Group A, the second Group B and so on, appearing left to right, above the thick line running across the ballot paper. The second draw is for candidates who are not included in any group (ungrouped candidates). The first candidate drawn will appear first in the single column on the right-hand side of the ballot paper, followed by the remaining candidates in the order they are drawn.

Forming a group

In an election for 2 or more councillors, candidates whether they are nominated by a registered political party or not, are entitled to form a group (at least 2 candidates are required).    

To qualify for a group voting square to be printed on the ballot paper to be used for ‘above the line’ voting, it is necessary:

  • In the case of undivided councils, that the number of candidates in the group is at least half the number of candidates to be elected (i.e. if there are 9 councillors to be elected the group must have at least 5 candidates)
  • In the case of divided councils (those with wards), that there are at least as many candidates in the group as there are candidates to be elected in that ward (i.e. if there are 3 councillors to be elected in the ward, the group must have at least 3 candidates).

Unless more than 1 group has requested a group voting square, there will be no group voting squares, and therefore no ‘above the line’ voting on the ballot paper.

Where all the candidates in the group have been nominated by the 1 registered political party, the registered political party name is printed on the ballot paper below the group voting square and adjacent to each candidate’s name ‘below the line’.

Candidates not endorsed by a registered political party may request to have the word ‘Independent’, or nothing, printed below their name on the ballot paper.

Composite Group

A group that is made up of candidates nominated by 2 or more registered political parties is entitled to have a composite name (indicating each of the registered political parties) below the group voting square. The full or abbreviated name of the relevant party is printed adjacent to each candidate’s name ‘below the line’.

The group voting square of ‘Independent’ groups of candidates, or a combination group made up of candidates nominated by a registered political party and independents, are identified only by the letter of the alphabet that is allocated to them in the draw. However the registered political party name and the word ‘Independent’ can be printed adjacent to each candidate’s name ‘below the line’.

Ungrouped Candidates

Candidates, who do not form a group with other candidates, are called ‘ungrouped’ candidates and appear in a single column, at the right-hand side of the ballot paper. There is nothing printed on the ballot paper to identify them as ‘ungrouped’ candidates, and they cannot have a group voting square ‘above the line’.

Uncontested election

If, by the close of nominations, only the required number of candidates or less have been nominated, those candidates will be declared elected, on and from nomination day.

Death of a Candidate

If a candidate dies between noon on nomination day and 6.00pm on election day, the election fails and a new election in that council area or ward will be held at a later date.