2021 NSW Local Government elections: Political Participants Bulletin No.5
Bulletin No.5 Issued 15 April 2021
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1. Candidate information webinars
A series of online candidate information sessions will be conducted by the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) in the lead up to the 2021 NSW Local Government elections. The webinars will be held from April to August 2021 and will cover the following topics:
- Election overview
- Election funding and disclosure
- Registration of candidates, groups, and third-party campaigners
- Electoral material (also known as how-to-vote material)
- Nomination process
- Early voting and election day voting
- Candidate workers and scrutineers
- Counting and results
Please see below the details of the first three webinars to be conducted:
- 11am, Tuesday 27 April – Candidate information
- 6pm, Thursday 29 April – Candidate information (repeated)
- 6pm, Tuesday 11 May – Election funding and disclosure
Please note the first two webinars are not applicable to prospective candidates in Fairfield City Council and Penrith City Council as the Electoral Commissioner is not conducting elections for these two councils. See below for further information about the election for these areas.
Please use the following link to register your attendance
Each webinar will be recorded and placed on the NSWEC website for viewing at a later date if you are unable to attend at the scheduled time. The NSWEC will not be conducting face to face candidate information sessions.
2. Registration of candidates, groups, and third-party campaigners
Candidates and groups
Candidates, and groups of candidates, must be registered with the NSW Electoral Commission before accepting political donations or making payments for electoral expenditure.
It is unlawful for an unregistered candidate, or group of candidates, to accept political donations or make payments for electoral expenditure before being nominated for the election. Current councillors and mayors who are seeking re-election do not need to be registered.
To register for the election the candidate or group members must complete and lodge the relevant application for registration form on our website:
- Application to register as a Local Government candidate (EF.729)
- Application to register as a group of Local Government candidates (EF.732)
Forms can be submitted to the NSW Electoral Commission by email, mail or fax. Contact details are on the form. From June, candidates and groups can also apply to be registered online.
Candidate and group registrations close on the same day nominations close which is Wednesday, 4 August 2021.
Registration for the election is a separate process to a person being nominated as a candidate or making a claim to form a group on a ballot paper.
All candidates and groups that will not accept political donations or make payments for electoral expenditure before being nominated are taken to be registered when the candidate or group is nominated by the Returning Officer, usually the day after the close of nominations. From this time, all nominated candidates and groups can lawfully accept political donations and make payments for electoral expenditure for the election. Refer to our website for information about being nominated for the election.
Any person or entity that incurs more than $2,000 in electoral expenditure for an election in an area or ward between 1 July 2021 and Election Day must be registered as a third-party campaigner. Third-party campaigner registrations are now open and close on Friday 27 August 2021. A person or entity that does not register as a third-party campaigner must not pay for more than $2,000 in electoral expenditure that is incurred in the capped expenditure period for the election. The capped expenditure period starts 1 July 2021 and ends on Election Day.
Third-party campaigners do not include political parties and their associated entities, candidates, groups and elected members. A third-party campaigner must appoint an official agent. The official agent is responsible for managing and disclosing the political donations and electoral expenditure of the campaigner. More information can be found on our website.
A third-party campaigner can apply to be registered and notify us of the appointment of an official agent by completing and lodging the following form available on our website: Application to register a third-party campaigner and appoint an official agent (EF.735)
The details of registered candidates, groups, third-party campaigners and official agents are included in publicly available registers that are published on our website.
Candidates, groups, third-party campaigners, and official agents whose registered details change after being registered must notify us within 30 days by completing and lodging the following form available on our website: Notice of change in registered particulars (EF.740)
3. Campaign accounts
All electoral expenditure incurred by a party for a local government election campaign must be paid from the party’s local government campaign account.
Candidates and groups must open a campaign account before accepting $1,000 or more in political donations or making payments of $1,000 or more in electoral expenditure. All political donations used to make payments for electoral expenditure must be paid into the campaign account and the electoral expenditure must be paid from the campaign account.
The campaign account of a group must be separate to any campaign accounts of the candidates who are members of the group.
If a candidate or group has a campaign account open from the previous election, the account must be cleared before being used for the 2021 election. The balance left in the account from the previous election must be dispersed in accordance with the rules outlined on our website.
4. Centralised operations
The following centralised operations will be established for the 2021 NSW Local Government elections:
- Centralised postal vote count centre
- Sydney Council count centre
- Newcastle count centre
5. Postal vote applications
Any candidate or registered political party may distribute postal vote applications. However, they must display both pages of the postal vote application in the form and manner approved by the Electoral Commissioner. It is anticipated that the approved postal vote application will be available by May 2021. Please email all requests for a soft copy of the postal vote application form to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you intend to distribute your own version of the postal vote application, it is suggested that you send the draft application to email@example.com for review. This will ensure that it complies with legislative requirements before you incur costs for printing, distribution, etc.
You should be mindful that any postal vote application produced by a candidate or registered political party may also be electoral material, for example, if it contains the name or image of a candidate or the name or logo of a party.
If a postal vote application is also electoral material and is distributed during the regulated election period (Monday, 26 July to 6pm, Saturday 4 September 2021) then it must contain the following:
- the name and address of the person on whose instructions the material was printed, published, distributed or displayed, and
- if the material has been printed, the name of the printer and the street address of the premises at which it was printed.
The address of a person means an address, including a full street address and suburb or locality that is located in Australia at which the person can usually be contacted during the day, but does not include a post office box. A street address of the premises does not include a post office box number or a DX number.
Postal vote application forms produced and distributed to voters by any political participant must not appear to have been sent by the NSW Electoral Commission. For example, it must not appear that electoral material included with a postal vote application distributed by a candidate or party has been sent or authorised by the NSW Electoral Commission. A replied paid envelope included with a postal vote application distributed by a party or candidate must not appear to be addressed to the NSW Electoral Commission unless the NSW Electoral Commission postal address is used. It is an offence to distribute material that falsely appears to have been authorised by or sent from the NSW Electoral Commission.
The NSW Electoral Commission will liaise with candidates and registered political parties regarding the timely return of postal vote applications to the NSW Electoral Commission head office. Please note that local returning officers will not be processing postal vote applications.
Public access to the postal vote application will be available from the NSW Electoral Commission website from Tuesday 27 July 2021. Postal vote applications must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission by 5pm Monday, 30 August 2021.
6. Non-client councils
Fairfield City Council and Penrith City Council have engaged an electoral services provider to administer their 2021 elections.
Information provided by the NSW Electoral Commission about the registration of candidates, groups and third-party campaigners, political donations and electoral expenditure still applies to the elections for these two councils.
You should contact these two councils directly, however, about the administration of candidate nominations, registration of electoral material, polling places, voting and election results in those areas.
7. Councils under administration
The following two councils are currently under administration and are not having an election:
8. More information
Political parties, candidates and councillors are strongly encouraged to refer to the NSW Electoral Commission’s website for information about the key dates, processes and rules that must be followed. Visit the NSW Electoral Commission’s website at elections.nsw.gov.au.
Our call centres are open to take enquiries: for political participants (registered political parties, candidates and third party campaigners) enquiries call 1300 022 011 and for general public enquiries call 1300 135 736.
If you would prefer to contact us in writing, direct your electoral funding, registration and disclosure enquires to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all election-related enquiries, visit the Contact us page on our website and send us your enquiry via the online form. We will respond as soon as we can.
If you have any questions about the content of this bulletin please email email@example.com.