NT Local Government (Council) elections | NTEC

NT Local Government (Council) elections

Local government in the Northern Territory consists of five municipal councils and twelve councils in regional and remote areas. Two municipalities (Darwin and Litchfield), nine regional councils and one community government council are divided into wards.

Three municipalities (Alice Springs, Katherine and Palmerston) and two rural councils (Belyuen and Wagait) do not have a ward structure. The principal member in municipalities (generally called the mayor) is chosen by election; in regional councils, the principal member may be elected or chosen from within the council. The number of ordinary members varies from six to fourteen per council and one to five per ward.

The Local Government Act 2008 and Local Government (Electoral) Regulations 2008 outline the procedures for conducting NT Local Government (Council) elections and by-elections to fill casual vacancies. NT 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.


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.


Any person wanting to become a candidate for NT Local Government (Council) elections must lodge a correctly completed nomination form after the close of the electoral roll and before the close of nominations.


A person is, unless disqualified, eligible for election or appointment as a member of a council if enrolled as an elector in respect of a place of residence within the council's area.

Principal member

The principal member of council is the mayor or president who may be publicly elected or the occupant determined by the elected councillors.

Ordinary member

An ordinary member of council is a councillor or member who is publicly elected.

Candidates standing for principle member and ordinary member

If a candidate stands for both a principal member and ordinary member vacancy and is elected to the position of principal member, that candidate is then excluded from the count for ordinary member. His/her ballot papers are distributed to the next available candidate according to the preferences marked by the voter.

More information:


Electoral boundaries

In accordance with Part 6 of the Local Government (Electoral) Regulations, each council carries out an electoral review of its structure and elected membership once in every four-year term. Any changes to structure and membership become effective at the next NT Local Government (Council) elections. The number of electors in councils and wards differs depending on whether they are municipal or regional/shire councils.

More information:

Department of Housing and Community Development

Local Government Association of the Northern Territory

Past elections

Past NT Local Government (Council) election results are loaded progressively to the results page. Please contact the NTEC if you require information on results that are not yet loaded. We apologise for any inconvenience.

More information:

Past elections

Postal voting

All electors have the option of applying for postal ballot papers to be sent to their nominated address. Applications for NT Local Government (Council) elections 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


The NT Local Government (Council) general election timetable is determined by the Local Government Act and Local Government (Electoral) Regulations which specifies:

  • Notice inviting nominations: At least 43 days before election day.
  • Close of electoral roll: Thirty-two days before election day at 5:00 pm.
  • Close of nominations: Twenty-three days before election day at 12:00 noon.
  • Election day: Fourth Saturday in August every four years.

More information:


Voting and counting


Voting is compulsory in NT Local Government (Council) elections. 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 have been numbered in order of the voter's choice.


Immediately after the close of voting at 6:00 pm on election day, there is:

  • a count of first preference votes at each voting centre; and
  • a count of first preference votes for early and postal votes at NTEC offices in Darwin and Alice Springs

First preference results are progressively uploaded to the NTEC website during the evening. A recheck of all votes is undertaken during the week after election day including absent, early and postal votes - no further updates are made to the results on the website until after the cut-off for receipt of postal votes and a distribution of preferences is conducted.

Electors voting by post have until 12:00 noon on the first Friday after election day to return their postal ballot papers.

The vote counting system used is the Single Transferable Vote Proportional Representation (STVPR) or PR for short.

More information:

Voting and counting

NT Council websites

Municipal councils (5)

Alice Springs Town Council | City of Darwin | Katherine Town Council | Litchfield Council | City of Palmerston

Regional councils (9)

Barkly | Central Desert | East Arnhem | MacDonnell | Roper Gulf | Tiwi Islands | Victoria Daly | West Arnhem | West Daly

Community Government councils (2)

Belyuen | Coomalie

Shire councils (1)


Unincorporated areas

Small areas of land in the Northern Territory are not yet included under council arrangements...more information