Vote counting | NTEC

Vote counting

Counting begins once voting centres close at 6:00 pm on election day.

Votes that are cast on election day are counted on election night. Other counts may include early and postal votes.

Ballot papers are checked to ensure formality and those that are not completed correctly are set aside; these are called informal ballot papers and are not counted towards the result. The remaining ballot papers are sorted into piles for each candidate according to the first preference marked on the ballot paper. The number of ballot papers are then totalled for each candidate, the results phoned through to the office and added to the website.

All ballot papers are re-checked after election night to make sure they have been counted correctly.

Proportional representation electoral system

The electoral system used in local government elections in the Territory is the proportional representation electoral system, or PR for short.

Proportional representation is the term which describes a group of electoral systems used for elections in multi-member electorates to elect candidates who receive a set proportion of the vote. In Australia, these systems are classified into two categories - List Systems and Single Transferable Vote (STV). In the Northern Territory the electoral system used is the STV type.

Single transferable vote (STV)

Under STV, 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.

Recheck of ballot papers

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 (that is, a mayor or 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.

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 second 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 second Friday after election day to return their ballot papers.

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 website, via a media release and on social media.


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 or her own volition.

More information about the commission's policy on recounts can be found via the following link

Disputed elections

Pursuant to part 8.5, section 143 of the Local Government Act 2019 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.