Frequently asked questions

Elections

NOTE: These questions and answers apply to NT Legislative Assembly and NT Local Government (Council) elections.

Can I vote before election day?

Yes. All electors have the option of voting before election day, either in person at an early voting centre or by applying for postal ballot papers to be sent to their nominated address.

Vote in person at an early voting centre

Early voting centres open in the weeks leading up to an election. This occurs after the declaration of nominations, the draw to determine the order of candidate names on the ballot paper and the ballot papers are printed. Voting centre locations and operating hours are advertised in newspapers, on this website and on social media at the time of the election.

Vote by post

  • NT Legislative Assembly elections: An application for a postal vote can be made in the calendar year of the election.
  • NT Local Government (Council) elections: An application for a postal vote can be made within the 3-month period before election day.

NOTE: General postal voters are automatically sent ballot papers and are not required to lodge a new application.

More information:

Postal voting in a NT Legislative Assembly election

Postal voting in a NT Local Government (Council) election

How do I mark the ballot paper?

NT Legislative Assembly elections

NT Legislative Assembly elections use the optional preferential voting (OPV) system.

The voting system used is optional preferential voting (OPV); where the voter must mark a number '1' on the ballot paper next to their most preferred candidate and can then choose whether or not to mark further preferences.

More information:

Optional preferential voting

NT Local Government (Council) elections

NT Local Government (Council) elections use the full preferential voting system.

The voting system used is full preferential voting where the voter must mark a number '1' on the ballot paper next to their most preferred candidate, and the numbers '2', '3' and so on against all the other candidates on the ballot paper until all the squares are numbered in order of the voter's choice.

How are votes counted?

NT Legislative Assembly elections

To be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the total formal votes in the count (i.e. 50% + 1 vote).

  • If a candidate has a majority of the votes, the candidate is elected and no further counting is necessary.
  • If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the least number of formal votes is 'excluded' and that candidate's ballot papers are re-sorted to the other candidates according to the second preference shown on each ballot paper.
  • If a ballot paper fails to show a preference for a continuing candidate, the ballot paper is 'exhausted' and removed from the count. The majority required for election must then be recalculated minus any exhausted ballot papers.

The process for exclusions is repeated until one candidate gains more than half of the formal votes remaining in the count and is elected.

More information:

Voting and counting

NT Local Government (Council) elections

The electoral system used to count the votes in NT Local Government (Council) elections is the Proportional Representation electoral system; or PR for short.

Proportional Representation (PR) is the term which describes a group of electoral systems used to elect candidates in multi-member electorates. Under PR, candidates are elected to council in proportion to the number of votes they receive. There are three main types of PR electoral systems, and in Australia, all PR electoral systems are single transferable vote (STV) systems.

Under STV electoral systems, each vote can be transferred between candidates in the order of the voter's preferences. A candidate is elected when his or her total number of votes equals or exceeds the quota.

More information:

Voting and counting

Is voting compulsory in the NT?

Yes. Voting is compulsory in NT Legislative Assembly elections and NT Local Government (Council) elections.

What is the fine for not voting?

NT Legislative Assembly elections

Voting is compulsory in NT Legislative Assembly elections, and not voting without a sufficient reason is an offence under section 279(1) of the Electoral Act. Regulation 2 of the Electoral Regulations sets the prescribed fee for failing to vote at $25. If the prescribed fee of $25 is not paid, you could be liable for court action which may result in a fine plus court costs - $155.

NT Local Government (Council) elections

Voting is compulsory in NT Local Government (Council) elections, and not voting without a sufficient reason is an offence under section 90(3) of the Local Government (Electoral) Regulations. The infringement notice penalty is $50. If the penalty fee of $50 is not paid, you could be liable for court action which may results in a fine plus court costs - $155.

What is a by-election?

NT Legislative Assembly by-elections

A vacancy may occur due to the resignation or death of a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).

Under the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978, a by-election must be held if a vacancy occurs less than three years and six months after the first meeting of the Assembly following the last preceding general election.

If the number of candidates standing for an election is the same as the number of vacancies, the election is declared uncontested, no voting is required and the candidates are elected unopposed.

NT Local Government (Council) by-elections

A vacancy may occur due to the dismissal, resignation or death of a member.

Under the Local Government (Electoral) Regulations, a by-election must be held within three months of the Commissioner being notified of a vacancy.  However, if a vacancy occurs within the eighteen months before general elections are scheduled, councils may appoint a person to a casual vacancy or leave the position vacant in accordance with its policy.

What is a writ?

NT Legislative Assembly elections

The writ is a legal document, issued by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, authorising the Electoral Commissioner (EC) to conduct an election for the Legislative Assembly. The writ sets out the key dates for the election and the EC is required to give public notice of receipt of the writ.

After the declaration of election results, the EC endorses the writ with the names of the successful candidates and returns the writ to the Administrator.

NT Local Government (Council) elections

There is no writ issued for NT Local Government (Council) elections; however, a 'notice inviting nominations' indicates the opening of the election period.

What if I'm travelling during an election?

There are a number of options for those electors travelling before or during an election. This includes voting at an early voting centre in the weeks leading up to an election or applying for postal ballot papers to be sent to a nominated address.

Early voting

Early voting centres open in the weeks leading up to an election. This occurs after the declaration of nominations, the draw to determine the order of candidate names on the ballot paper, and the ballot papers are printed. Voting centre locations and operating hours are advertised in newspapers, on this website and on social media at the time of the election.

Postal voting

All electors have the option of applying for postal ballot papers to be sent to their nominated address.

  • NT Legislative Assembly elections: An application for a postal vote can be made in the calendar year of the election.
  • NT Local Government (Council) elections: An application for a postal vote can be made within the 3-month period before election day.

NOTE: General postal voters are automatically sent ballot papers and are not required to lodge a new application.

When are elections held in the NT?

Legislative Assembly elections are held on the fourth Saturday in August every four years.

Local Government (Council) elections are held on the fourth Saturday in August in the fourth year after the most recent previous general election was held.

Who are the candidates?

At the time of an election, candidates' information can be found:

  • in Northern Territory newspapers
  • on the list of candidates page, published on this website
  • in 'how-to-vote' literature provided by campaign workers at voting centres
  • on the Legislative Assembly ballot papers
    • candidates endorsed by a registered political party will have the party name listed below their name
    • independent candidates have no affiliation.

NOTE: Candidate affiliations (if any) are not printed on the ballot paper in NT Local Government (Council) elections.