Saturday 28 March 2015


Legislative Assembly Voting

The method of voting in Legislative Assembly elections is optional preferential. This means that to cast a formal vote, the elector must place the number ‘1’ in the square next to their first choice candidate. They have the ‘option’ to show further preferences by placing the number ‘2’ in the square next to their second choice candidate, the number ‘3’ next to their third choice candidate and so on. They may number as many or as few squares beyond their first choice candidate as they wish.

Legislative Assembly Counts

Legislative Assembly ballot papers will undergo the following counts:

  • Manual Counts
    • initial 1st preference count (manual count);
    • initial Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count (manual count);
  • Data entry process for all preferences
    • Check count 1st preference; and
    • Distribution of Preferences to determine elected candidate (conducted in the NSWEC computer count system).

The following table is a guide to the timing and locations of the Legislative Assembly counts.

Location and Timing Initial Count
Polling places from 6.00pm Saturday, 28 March
  • Polling place LA 1st preference
  • Polling place LA TCP
RO office from 6.00pm Saturday, 28 March
(and will continue up to 6.00pm Monday, 30 March)
  • Pre-poll/DI LA 1st preference
  • Pre-poll/DI LA TCP
CPVC from 6.00pm Saturday, 28 March
(and will continue up to Wednesday, 1 April)
  • Postal LA 1st preference
  • Postal LA TCP (close seats only)
CDVC from Monday, 30 March at 3pm
(and will continue up to Thursday, 2 April)
  • Declaration vote LA 1st preference
  • Declaration vote LA TCP (close seats only)
Location and Timing Check Count
RO office from 12noon Sunday, 29 March to approx. Tuesday, 7 April.

Note: No counting will occur in RO offices during Easter which falls on the weekend after Election Day (ie: Friday, 3 April to Sunday, 5 April)
Data entry of all LA ballot papers ie:
  • Polling place
  • Pre-poll/DI
  • Postal
  • Declaration vote
Location and Timing Distribution of Preferences (DoP)
RO office Wednesday, 8 April DoP to determine elected candidate
Location and Timing Announcement of Results
RO office Thursday, 9 April Results ceremony conducted by RO


  • RO (Returning Officer)
  • CPVC (Centralised Postal Voting Centre)
  • CDVC (Centralised Declaration Voting Centre)

Two Candidate Preferred Count

A Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count is conducted mainly on election night in polling places to give candidates, Registered Political Parties, the media and the public an indication of the likely election outcome.

It is not the official distribution of preferences, which takes place in the Returning Officer’s office following the completion of the check count (data entry of all ballot papers and all preferences).

Prior to Election Day, the Electoral Commissioner selects the two candidates in the district who are likely to be the final two remaining candidates in the count following the distribution of preferences.

The TCP count is conducted by distributing all formal votes of the other candidates to the two selected TCP candidates according to which of the two selected TCP candidates receives the highest preference on each of the other candidates’ ballot papers.

The TCP count is conducted as:

  • one count per polling place;
  • one count per pre-poll voting centre; and
  • one count for all Declared Institutions (DI).

A TCP count will only be conducted on ordinary votes only (ie: polling place, pre-poll and DI) for districts where the result is not close. For districts where the result is close, all ballot papers (ie: both ordinary and declaration votes) will be included in the TCP.

Legislative Assembly Distribution of Preferences

The Distribution of Preferences (DoP) will take place in the Returning Officer’s office following the completion of check count (data entry).

The DoP will be conducted in the NSWEC computer count system. The DoP is simply ‘pressing a button’ in the data entry system which will exclude candidates starting from the lowest polling candidate and redistributing their votes to the remaining candidates in the count. The DoP will take less than 5 minutes to conduct.

Candidates, scrutineers, media and other interested parties are entitled to be present to witness the DoP in the Returning Officer's office across the 93 districts.

A candidate may be elected without the need for a distribution of preferences if they receive an absolute majority (more than half the number of formal 1st preference votes in the district). However, for statistical purposes a DoP will still be conducted such that only two candidates remain in the count.

Following is an example of how a distribution of preferences works:

  • To be elected in the optional preferential system, a candidate has to receive more than half of the formal votes in the count. This is called an ‘absolute majority’.
  • If there are 8,756 formal first preference votes in an election the absolute majority is calculated as: 8,756 ÷ 2 = 4,378 + 1 = 4,379.
  • If a candidate has an absolute majority, that candidate is elected.
  • If no candidate is elected, the candidate with the least number of votes is ‘excluded’ which means the excluded candidate’s votes are re-sorted to the other candidates remaining in the count according to the 2nd preference shown on each ballot paper.
  • However, if any of those ballot papers do not have 2nd preferences, or have two or more 2nd preferences on them, those ballot papers are known as ‘exhausted’ ballot papers and are removed from the count. They are then only used to balance the number of votes at the end of each exclusion, to the number of first preference votes.
  • The absolute majority needed to be elected is recalculated after every candidate is excluded. This is due to exhausted ballot papers not continuing in the count.
  • The process of exclusions is repeated, re-sorting the ballot papers of excluded candidates to the 2nd, 3rd , 4th etc preferences as applicable, until such time as a candidate has an absolute majority of the votes remaining in the count and that candidate is elected.
  • For statistical purposes the DoP will be conducted to the last two candidates.

The process is explained in the following example:

Candidates First Preference Votes Candidate D Excluded Progressive Totals Candidate C Excluded Progressive Totals
Candidate A 3,024 250 3,274 822 4,096
Candidate B 2,552 441 2,993 1,189 4,182 Elected
Candidate C 2,290 87 2,377 Excluded ----------------
Candidate D 890 Excluded -------------- -------------- ----------------
Total Formal Votes 8,756 778 8,644 2,011 8,278
Informal 278 ------- 278 ------- 278
Exhausted ------- 112 112 366 478
Total Votes 9,034 890 9,034 2,377 9,034
Absolute Majority 4,379 ------- 4,323 ------- 4,140

Legislative Assembly results on the NSWEC VTR

As the initial 1st preference and TCP Legislative Assembly counts are conducted from 6.00pm election night onwards, the results were displayed on the NSWEC VTR (Virtual Tally Room) for the information of candidates, Registered Political Parties, the public and the media.

Initial 1st preference counts will be updated on the VTR as the initial counts progress for pre-poll, DI, postal and declaration votes in the week after Election Day.

Check count (ie: data entry) 1st preference figures will be displayed on the VTR from Election Sunday onwards.

Following the completion of the check count (data entry) of all Legislative Assembly ballot papers for a district, and the conduct of the distribution of preferences in the data entry system, the NSWEC website will display the following for the district:

  • final 1st preference check count (data entry) figures;
  • distribution of preferences.
  • final TCP check count (data entry) figures for all candidate combinations; and
  • statistical information about the election including informality and state-wide Two Party Preferred results

Announcement of Results

Once the count or recount (if necessary) has been completed, and the successful candidate determined and all candidates have been informed of the result, the Returning Officer will announce the result of the election.

Candidates and/or their representatives are welcome to attend this announcement.

Return of the Writs

After the announcement of the result in each electoral district, the Electoral Commissioner endorses the name of the successful candidate on the Writ for each electoral district, dates and signs them before returning them to the NSW Governor.

Challenge to the Result of the Election

Candidates may challenge the result of the election after the declaration of the poll by submitting a petition addressed to the Court of Disputed Returns no later than 40 days after the return of the Writ.

Candidates are advised to seek their own legal advice should they wish to pursue this course of action.