Voting and counting
Voting is compulsory in NT Legislative Assembly elections. 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.
If an elector attends a voting centre outside their enrolled division, they may cast an absent vote which is placed in an envelope and counted after election day.
Assistance to voters
Where an elector requires assistance with marking his or her ballot paper, assistance can be provided by a person nominated by the voter or by an electoral official.
Electoral officials, who speak languages other than English, are often available to assist in the voting centre.
Following the declaration of the candidates for each division, if more candidates are nominated than there are vacancies, an election must be held and the draw for positions on ballot papers then takes place.
Each candidate's photograph and the candidate’s political affiliation or the word ‘Independent’ (if requested on the nomination form) will be printed next to their name.
All electors have the option of voting in person at an early voting centre before election day. Early voting centre locations and operating hours are advertised in newspapers, on the NTEC website and social media sites.
Election day voting
Voting centres on election day open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Voting centre locations and operating hours are advertised in newspapers, on the NTEC website and social media sites.
Mobile voting (urban and remote)
Urban voting teams
Urban voting teams are appointed to visit hospitals, nursing homes, aged care facilities and prisons; or any other location determined by the Electoral Commissioner (e.g. town camps).
Remote voting teams
Remote voting teams visit remote locations by road, air or sea. Remote voting can be conducted during the 10 days before and on election day.
Urban and remote voting locations and operating hours are advertised in newspapers, on the NTEC website and social media sites, and via posters in selected locations.
All electors have the option of applying for postal ballot papers to be sent to their nominated address. Applications for NT Legislative Assembly elections can be made within the calendar year of the election.
When will the ballot papers be sent to me?
Once the declaration of nominations and draw to determine the order of candidate names on the ballot paper is conducted; ballot papers are printed and ballot material is forwarded as soon as possible thereafter.
What is the latest despatch of ballot material?
The mail-out of ballot material ceases at 6:00 pm on:
- the Tuesday before election day, to forwarding addresses outside Australia.
- the Thursday before election day, to forwarding addresses within Australia.
Therefore, your application must be received by the Commission before the above-mentioned day/time to allow for the ballot papers to reach your nominated address.
When do I complete my ballot paper/s?
In order to be admitted to the count, postal vote ballot papers must be completed before 6:00 pm on election day and received by the Commission before 12:00 noon on the second Friday following election day.
Qualification of witness
There are requirements for the completion of postal ballot papers and signing and witnessing of declaration envelopes.
An authorised witness can be:
- a person enrolled on the Commonwealth electoral roll - if you are within Australia or an external Territory.
- a person who is at least 18 years of age - if you are overseas.
Duties of a witness:
- Be satisfied as to the identity of the applicant and that the statements contained in the application are true.
- See the voter sign the application.
NOTE: General postal voters are automatically sent ballot papers and are not required to lodge a new application.
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 second Friday after election day to return their postal ballot papers.
A recheck of all votes is undertaken during the week after election day including absent, early and postal votes.
Electors voting by post have until 12:00 noon on the second Friday after election day to return their postal ballot papers. The distribution of preferences is not conducted until after the cut-off for receipt of postal ballot papers.
Distribution of preferences
At the distribution of preferences, any candidate who obtains more than 50% of the formal first preference votes is elected.
If no candidate obtains 50% + 1 of the formal votes:
- 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 of exclusions is repeated until one candidate gains more than half of the formal votes remaining in the count and is elected.
Declaration of election results
As soon as practicable after the results of an election have been determined, the Commission must publicly declare the results of the election and the names of candidates returned as elected.
The public declaration locations and times are advertised on the NTEC website and via a media release.
At any time before the result of the election is declared, a candidate may ask the Commission for a recount to be conducted. The initiating candidate must state the reasons for the request, which may or may not proceed.
The Electoral Commissioner may also initiate a recount on his/her own volition.
More information: NTEC recount policy
Pursuant to Part 12 of the Electoral Act, a person may dispute the validity of an election by making an application to the Court of Disputed Returns. The application must be made no later than 21-days after the day fixed for the return of the writ for the election.