Note: The description of how the following count is done is simplified and quite general. For more complete details please refer to the relevant Handbook for Parties Groups Candidates and Scrutineers.
Legislative Council members are elected using a proportional representation voting system, which is set out in Schedule 6 to the Constitution Act 1902.
To be elected a candidate generally must gain a quota of the formal votes. The quota cannot be worked out until the total number of formal first preference votes is known. Once the first preference count has taken place and informal ballot papers are removed the quota is calculated:
Quota = (total number of formal votes ÷ one more than the number of vacancies) + 1
For example, if there are 12,000 formal votes and 5 vacancies to be filled, the quota is:
12,000 formal votes ÷ 6 = 2,000 + 1 = 2001.
Therefore, in this example, a candidate needs at least 2001 votes to get elected.
The count is conducted by distributing votes according to the choices shown on the ballot paper. When candidates reach a quota and are elected, their surplus or extra votes above the quota are distributed to the remaining candidates.
Candidates with the lowest number of votes are then excluded and their ballot papers are redistributed according to the next choice shown. This process continues until all the vacancies are filled.
Candidates can also be elected if the remaining number of candidates in the count equals the number of vacant positions still to be filled.
PRCC Data Entry System
The Proportional Representation Computer Count (PRCC) system is the software program in which Councillor ballot papers are data entered. This includes:
- allocating ballot papers (in batches) to Data Entry Operators for round 1 and round 2 data entry;
- Data Entry Operators undertaking round 1 and round 2 data entry;
- undertaking reconciliation on those batches where round 1 and round 2 data entry do not match; and
- distribution of preferences in the count to determine the elected Councillors
Test Data, Certificates and Specifications
The NSWEC has provided the full set of preference data used in the 2011 Legislative Council State General Elections count at our FTP site. This site also contains the specification for the count module, the verification certificates from independent experts certifying that the NSWEC specification matches the legislation and that the system matches the specification. Please note that the data is stored in a very large zip file which should be downloaded before opening.
Before a declaration that candidates have been duly elected, the Electoral Commissioner may on the request of any candidate or on his or her own motion conduct a recount of the ballot papers.