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2021 NSW Local Government Elections: Council Update No.3

Bulletin No.3
Issued 27 October 2020

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1. Attendance elections in September 2021

Voting safely at the 2021 NSW Local Government elections

As you are aware, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister for Local Government postponed the 2020 ordinary elections for 12 months. The NSW Electoral Commission is planning delivery of the 2021 NSW Local Government election so that voters, political participants and election staff remain as safe as possible.

Learning from the experiences of other electoral commissions in recent elections around Australia and in New Zealand, the NSW Electoral Commission is undertaking a review of every election task from a COVID-safe perspective. Public health orders and circumstances are changing as the pandemic evolves, so it is essential to plan ahead for a range of possible scenarios. The NSW Electoral Commission will continue to closely monitor public health orders and advice and make changes to plans as necessary. 

How this will affect councils, parties, candidates and electors will be determined over the coming months. We will keep you up to date with information through future bulletins as circumstances change.

2. Booking of polling venues to start early in 2021

Booking of returning offices, pre-poll venues and polling places to commence early in 2021

A critical factor in the success of elections next year will be the securing of suitable venues for Returning Officers, pre-poll voting centres and polling places. The size, configuration, location and facilities offered by these venues will have a significant impact on the efficiency of the elections and the experience of voters and political participants.

We will be hiring a specialist team of Venue Procurement Officers (VPOs) in February whose role will be identifying and securing suitable venues around the state. Where possible, our preference is to utilise council-owned venues, so the VPOs will be contacting you as soon as they have been engaged.

In the meantime, if you think you have council-owned venues that would be suitable for Returning Officer accommodation (19 July – 1 October 2021), pre-poll voting centres (22 August – 3 September 2021) or both, please go ahead and tentatively reserve them now. When the VPOs have been engaged they will contact you so that a decision can be made regarding the suitability of individual venues.

3. Non-residential electoral rolls

We’re here to help you understand non-residential rolls

Whether electors who aren’t on the residential rolls of local government areas are able to vote or not is often a source of confusion. If eligible, certain electors who do not live in your Local Government area can be included on the non-residential roll and have the right to vote at your council’s elections.

More information regarding the enrolment of non-residential electors can be found in the NSWEC fact sheet.

If individuals enquire about being included on your non-residential roll, the relevant application forms can be found on our website.

If you have any questions about the non-residential rolls, don’t hesitate to contact us at NRR.Rolls@elections.nsw.gov.au.

4. Countback by-elections coming soon

Countback by-elections available after 2021 local government elections

Following amendments to the Local Government Act 1993, councils will be able to fill casual vacancies after the 2021 elections using ‘Countback’. To use countback:

  1. Councils must pass the relevant resolution in the first council meeting of the newly constituted council after the 2021 ordinary elections, stating that casual vacancies will be filled using the countback method.
  2. Countback elections can only be used to fill casual vacancies of Councillors in the first 18 months after the ordinary elections.

More information on Countback will be available on our website next year.