Voting and counting

Voting

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 are numbered in order of the voter's choice.

Absent voting

If an elector attends a voting centre outside their Local Government (Council) area, 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.

Ballot papers

Following the declaration of the candidates for each council, 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 will be printed next to their name. Political affiliations, if any, are not printed on NT Local Government (Council) ballot papers.

Early voting

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.

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.

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 first 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.

More information:

Postal voting

Counting

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.

Proportional Representation electoral system

The electoral system used 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.

Single transferable vote (STV)

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.

PR count system - simplified

PR count system - detailed

Post-election counting

A recheck of all votes is undertaken during the week after election day including absent, early and postal votes.

Count order

The count of ballot papers for an election for principal member (Mayor/President) is conducted first, the results determined and then those ballot papers are set aside before the count of ballot papers for an election for ordinary members is conducted.

Candidates standing for principal 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 or her ballot papers are distributed to the next available candidate according to the preferences marked by the voter.

Electors voting by post have until 12:00 noon on the first Friday after election day to return their postal ballot papers. The determination of the quota and distribution of preferences is not conducted until after the cut-off for receipt of postal ballot papers.

Distribution of preferences

Determination of the quota and distribution of preferences takes place after the cut-off for the return of postal voting ballot papers. Electors voting by post have until 12:00 noon on the first Friday after election day to return their ballot papers.

Count order

The count of ballot papers for an election for principal member (mayor/president) is conducted first, the results determined and then those ballot papers are set aside before the count of ballot papers for ordinary members is conducted.

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

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.

Recount

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.

Disputed elections

Pursuant to part 8.5, section 91 of the Local Government Act the returning officer, candidate (or prospective candidate whose nomination was rejected) or elector for the relevant area may, by application to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, dispute the result of the election. The application must be filed with the Registrar of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 21 days after the conclusion of the election to which it relates.