The New South Wales Legislative Council consists of 42 members who represent the whole state in Parliament. At each State election 21 members are elected to serve 2 terms of Parliament, that is, a maximum of 8 years.
The method of voting for the Legislative Council is known as proportional representation.
The method of voting
The names of the candidates are shown on the ballot paper. If they are endorsed (ie nominated) by a registered political party, the name of that party is also shown. If they are not endorsed by a registered political party, they can choose to have 'Independent', or nothing, printed next to their name.
The Legislative Council ballot paper has a thick line running across it. There are squares above this line and squares below it.
The squares above the line represent the groups of people listed below the line.
A group must have at least 15 candidates before it can have a group voting square above the thick horizontal line.
The group or party determines the order of its candidates within the group, but the order in which the groups or parties appear on the ballot paper is determined by a draw conducted by the Electoral Commissioner, who is the Returning Officer for the Legislative Council election.
Candidates not included in a group are shown in a column on the right hand side of the ballot paper, and these are referred to as 'ungrouped' candidates.
There are 2 ways you can fill this ballot paper in. You can vote for a group by filling in squares above the line or you can vote by filling in squares below the line.
Above the line
If you choose to vote above the line, you must put a number ‘1’ in one of the squares above the thick horizontal line. By doing this you are voting for that whole group of candidates in the descending order they are listed below that square. That is all you have to do.
But if you want, you can show your second choice of group and more choices if you want, by putting a number ‘2’, then ‘3’ and so on in the squares above the line.
If you vote this way, you do not have to put numbers in any squares below the line.
Below the line
If you do not want to vote for a whole group but for individual candidates, you may choose to vote below the thick horizontal line.
To vote below the line, you must put a number ‘1’ in 1 of the squares below the line. Then you must put the number ‘2’, then the number ‘3’, then ‘4’, then ‘5’ – all the way to number ‘15’.
You must number 15 squares below the line, from 1 to 15, for your vote to be counted.
You can of course put more numbers starting with 16 if you want to show more choices.
If you vote this way, you do not have to put any numbers in any squares above the line.