Legislative Assembly: Voting and Counting
Legislative Assembly Voting
The method of voting in Legislative Assembly (LA) elections is optional preferential. 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 Count Timetable
Legislative Assembly (LA) ballot papers will undergo the following counts:
- Initial 1st preference count (manual count).
- Initial Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count (manual count).
- Check count (a combination of manual check count and data entry process using the NSW Electoral Commission's computer count system).
- Distribution of Preferences to determine the elected candidate (conducted within the NSW Electoral Commission's computer count system).
The following table is a guide to the timing and locations of the Legislative Assembly counts. Please note the timetable may be subject to change.
|Location and timing of counts||Initial count of the following ballot paper types|
|Voting centres from 6.00pm Saturday, 23 March||
|Election Manager office from 6.00pm Saturday, 23 March (and will continue up to Monday, 25 March)||
|Centralised Declaration Vote Count Centre (CDVCC) from 6.00pm Saturday, 23 March (and will continue up to Thursday, 28 March)||
|Sydney Town Hall from 6.00pm Saturday, 23 March (and may continue on Sunday 24 March)||
|NSW Electoral Commission head office from 6.00pm Saturday 23 March (and may continue on Sunday 24 March)||
|Centralised Declaration Vote Count Centre (CDVCC) from Sunday 24 March (and will continue up to Tuesday, 2 April)||
|Location and timing of counts||Check count and data entry of the following ballot paper types|
|Election Manager office from Monday 25 March to approx. Friday 29 March||
|Centralised Declaration Vote Count Centre (CDVCC) from Monday 25 March (and will continue up to Tuesday, 2 April)||
|Location and Timing||Distribution of Preferences (DoP)|
|Election Managers office Wednesday, 3 April||DoP to determine elected candidate|
Two Candidate Preferred Count (TCP)
A Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) count is conducted to give candidates, Registered Political Parties, the public and the media an indication of the likely election outcome.
It is not the official distribution of preferences, which takes place in the Election Manager's office following the completion of the check count and data entry of ballot papers.
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 voting centre
- one count per early voting centre
- one count for all declared facilities
- one count for iVote
- two counts for postals
TCP counts will not be conducted during the initial count of ballot paper on Absent, Enrolment and Name Already Marked as Voted vote types. However, following the check count, TCP reports will be available for all vote types.
Two Candidate Preferred Count (TCP) Scenarios
The following table illustrates the various scenarios that may apply to the TCP counts and reporting of the TCP count results.
|TCP Scenario 1||Reporting of TCP count results|
|TCP candidates selected prior to election night reflect the election night results||
|TCP Scenario 2||Impact on Reporting|
|TCP candidates selected prior to election night do not reflect the election night results||
|TCP Scenario 3||Impact on Reporting|
|TCP candidates not selected prior to election night||
Legislative Assembly Distribution of Preferences
The distribution of preferences (DoP) will take place in the Election Manager's office following the completion of the check count and data entry.
The distribution of preferences will be conducted within the NSW Electoral Commission's computer count system. The Election Manager presses the 'start DoP count' button in the computer count system. The computer count system determines formality and calculates the absolute majority (50% + 1 of the formal first preference votes in the district). The system determines which candidates are to be excluded (starting with the lowest polling candidate in the count) and will redistribute their votes to the remaining candidates in the count. The distribution of preferences will take less than 5 minutes to complete.
Candidates, scrutineers, media and other interested parties are entitled to be present to witness the distribution of preferences in the Election Manager's offices across the 93 districts.
A candidate may be elected without the need for a distribution of preferences if they receive an absolute majority (50% + 1 of formal first preference votes in the district). However, for statistical purposes a distribution of preferences will still be conducted.
Legislative Assembly Distribution of Preferences Example
Following is an example of how a distribution of preferences works for the Legislative Assembly.
To be elected in the optional preferential system, a candidate has to receive 50% +1 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 a 2nd preference, 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 is recalculated after every candidate is excluded. The absolute majority reduces after each exclusion due to the exhausted ballot papers not continuing in the count.
The process of exclusions continues until a candidate is elected. The ballot papers of excluded candidates are re-sorted 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 distribution of preferences will be conducted until only two candidates remain in the count.
The process is explained in the following example:
|Candidates||First Preference Votes||Candidate D|
|Progressive Totals||Candidate C|
|Total Formal Votes||8,756||778||8,644||2,011||8,278|
Legislative Assembly results on the NSW Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room
As the initial 1st preference and TCP Legislative Assembly counts are conducted from 6.00pm election night onwards, the results will be displayed on the NSW Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room (VTR) for the information of candidates, Registered Political Parties, the public and the media.
Initial 1st preference count results will be updated on the virtual tally room as the initial counts progress for early voting, Declared Facilities, postal and declaration votes in the week after Election Day.
Check count 1st preference figures will be displayed on the virtual tally room from Election Sunday onwards.
Final Count Figures
Following the completion of the check count and data entry of Legislative Assembly ballot papers for a district, and the conduct of the distribution of preferences in the NSW Electoral Commission Computer Count System, the NSW Electoral Commission website will display the following result reports for the district:
- 1st preference check count results.
- TCP check count results.
- Distribution of preferences results.
Return of the Writs
The Electoral Commissioner will endorse the name of the successful candidate on the Writ for each electoral district and will return the Writ to the NSW Governor.
Challenging an Election Result
Any person may challenge the results of an election by submitting a petition addressed to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court within 40 days of the return of the Writ.
Any person who wishes to pursue this course of action is advised to seek their own legal advice.
Two Candidate Preferred Analytics Tool
The Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) Analytics Tool is developed by the NSW Electoral Commission to allow the public to see preference flows for any combination of TCP candidates for a given Legislative Assembly district using the final check count data. The results of each TCP count are shown by the tool to the following level of detail:
- Each voting centre
- Each early voting centre
- Declared Facilities
- Each declaration vote type
The Two Candidate Preferred Analytics Tool will be published on the NSW Electoral Commission website approximately three weeks after Election Day.