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2021 NSW Local Government elections: Political Participants Bulletin No.10

Bulletin No.10
Issued 16 July 2021

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1. COVID-19 update

The NSW Electoral Commission has been collaborating with NSW Health to identify and implement COVID-safe measures for the elections that are scheduled for 4 September. The election date is set under NSW legislation.

Given the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation in Greater Sydney, however, we continue to liaise closely with NSW Health and other NSW Government agencies about managing the impact of COVID-19 on the elections. Our website will be updated and information sent out by Bulletin if we are notified of any changes to the election arrangements because of COVID-19.

The information in this Bulletin is correct as at the date of issue.

2. Nomination online management system now live

The Nomination online management system (NOMS) has been in operation on the NSW Electoral Commission website since Tuesday, 29 June to allow prospective candidates and registered political parties as much time as possible to prepare and upload nomination forms prior to the start of the nomination lodgement period on 26 July 2021.

NOMS will enable candidates and registered political parties to prepare their nomination and grouping forms online.

The online system will:

  • verify the enrolment of candidates and nominators;

  • assist in minimising errors and ensure all compulsory sections of the nomination form have been completed;

  • allow candidates and registered political parties, administrators and groups to oversee and manage the progress of each nomination;

  • allow for the nomination and deposit (Visacard or Mastercard) to be lodged online;

  • allow for automated messaging between the NSW Electoral Commission and the candidate or party concerning the acceptance or rejection of each nomination; and

  • allow for candidates and registered political parties to lodge their nomination/s without having to attend an office in person. Given the current public health situation, candidates and parties are particularly encouraged to use NOMS.

From Monday, 26 July 2021 until 12 noon, Wednesday, 4 August 2021, candidates and registered political parties can lodge their nominations and pay the nomination deposit fee online.

A recording of the webinar held on Tuesday, 13 July which covers an overview of the nomination process and using NOMS can be viewed: Candidate information webinars.

For assistance using NOMS please call our Candidate Helpdesk 1300 022 011 or email candidates@elections.nsw.gov.au.

3. Candidate Helpdesk available

The Candidate Helpdesk is available for candidates, registered political parties and other political participants. All enquiries relating to the nominations process, electoral material, ballot papers, ballot paper draw, counting and results, scrutineers, party workers and ballot papers can be directed to the candidate helpdesk.

The Candidate Helpdesk is available from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday on 1300 022 011.

For all electoral funding, registration and disclosure enquires contact us in writing on fdc@elections.nsw.gov.au or call the Candidate Helpdesk between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

4. Candidate information webinars

The remaining candidate information webinars will be conducted on:

  • 11am, Tuesday 27 July – Registration of Electoral material (also known as how-to-vote material)
  • 11am, Monday 9 August – iVote explained
  • 11am, Thursday 19 August – Early voting and election day voting
  • 6pm, Tuesday 31 August – Candidate workers, scrutineers, counting and results

View past webinars, as well as register your attendance for future webinars.

5. Postal vote applications commence 27 July 2021

Postal vote applications will commence on 27 July 2021. Electors can apply online, over the phone or by completing a paper form available on the NSW Electoral Commission website. Postal vote applications must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission by 5.00pm Monday, 30 August 2021.

Any candidate or political party intending to distribute postal vote applications to electors must use the approved form which is available by request to pva@elections.nsw.gov.au. The approved form includes all of the content contained on the two pages of the postal vote application.

Please note that additional eligibility criteria apply for this election to provide for COVID-safe voting, i.e. any elector who:

  • is a permanent or temporary resident in a hospital, nursing home, retirement village or similar facility;
  • is self-isolating because of COVID-19 related reasons;
  • reasonably believes that attending a polling place on election day will pose a risk to the health or safety of the person, or of another person, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you intend to distribute material that includes the postal vote application, it is recommended that a copy of your final artwork is provided to the NSW Electoral Commission for review to ensure that all legislative requirements have been met prior to going to print. It is an offence under NSW law to distribute material, such as postal vote application packs, that falsely appears to have been made or authorised by the NSW Electoral Commission.

Completed postal vote applications returned by electors directly to you need to be submitted to the NSW Electoral Commission for processing at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre. Applications must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission by 5pm on Monday, 30 August 2021.

Applications can be delivered between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday to:

NSW Electoral Commission
Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre
Grace Pavilion – Sydney Showground
Gate 10 Australia Ave,
Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

or posted to:

NSW Electoral Commission
Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre
Locked Bag 5051

It is important that applications are returned as soon as possible to the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure that applications are processed, and ballot papers are distributed to electors, in a timely manner.

To support you with the postal voting process throughout the election we recommend you provide us with a contact that our postal vote team can liaise with. This information should be provided by reply email to pva@elections.nsw.gov.au.

For more information about postal voting including dates and political party or candidate postal vote applications please refer to item 5 in Bulletin 5.

6. Braille ballot papers

Electors who are blind or have low vision can apply for braille ballot papers.

Applications for braille ballot papers must be made to the NSW Electoral Commission by 6pm on 26 July 2021 in writing via email to pva@elections.nsw.gov.au or over the phone by calling 1300 135 736.

Braille ballot papers can be posted to an elector’s enrolled address or an alternative address or delivered to an early voting centre (during pre-poll) or voting centre (on election day) within the elector’s council area, where the elector will complete them in person.

7. Electoral Material

Registration of electoral material

All electoral material that is to be distributed (handed out) on election day by registered political parties, groups, candidates, and any other persons or organisations, must be registered with the NSW Electoral Commission.

It is an offence to distribute electoral material on election day unless the material has been registered. ‘Distribution’ also means leaving electoral material in a position and circumstances to indicate that it is intended to be available for collection by members of the public in a public place.

Posters are not required to be registered but they must comply with the requirements detailed in the Candidate handbook under step 1 of the Six steps to being a candidate page.

Invitation to attend a demonstration of the Registration of Electoral Material system

The NSW Electoral Commission has developed an online system for the registration of electoral material to be used at the 2021 Local Government elections.

The system allows parties, groups and independent candidates to do the following online:

  • Register electoral material to be distributed on election day;
  • Withdraw registered electoral material;
  • Edit and resubmit material that was rejected.

An overview of the electoral material system will be provided in the candidate information webinar to be held on Tuesday, 27 July 2021.

Guide to creating accessible documents

The NSW Electoral Commission encourages registered electoral materials to be made accessible so that electors who are blind or have low vision can use tools like screen readers to help them understand the materials.

Please refer to the Accessibility Guide under step 5 of the Six steps to being a candidate page for further assistance.

Requirements for electoral material authorisation

A person must not, during the regulated election period, print, publish, distribute or publically display electoral material (other than the announcement in a newspaper of the holding of a meeting), without legibly showing on the material:

  • 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.

street address of the premises does not include a post office box number or a DX number.

The NSW Electoral Commission has created a document How to vote card templates to provide guidance for candidates and parties for the production of their electoral material. This can be found under step 5 of the Six steps to being a candidate page.

Material must not appear to be authorised by the NSW Electoral Commission

Electoral material must not appear to be an official communication from the NSW Electoral Commission or Electoral Commissioner. At a minimum, parties and candidates should make sure their electoral material:

  • includes a candidate name, logo or party name in a prominent size and position;
  • any text does not state or infer it is the advice of the Electoral Commissioner (e.g. about voting formally); and
  • does not use design features (such as colour schemes) that are commonly associated with Australian electoral bodies, so as not to mislead electors.

Display of electoral material on website

Registered electoral material will be displayed on the NSW Electoral Commission website from Monday, 23 August for two weeks prior to election day until 6.30pm on election day.

Electoral material that is registered during the first week of pre poll and prior to the closure of registration of electoral material at 5pm, Friday 27 August will be progressively updated to the website.

Social media authorisation

Political parties, candidates, elected councillors, third-party campaigners and associated entities should ensure their staff are aware of the authorisation requirements in relation to electoral material, particularly when posting publicly on social media during the regulated period.

Further information on the authorisation requirements in relation to social media posts can be found in the Candidate Handbook.

8. Registration of candidates, groups, and third-party campaigners

A reminder that candidates, groups of candidates, and third-party campaigners must also be registered for the election with the NSW Electoral Commission for electoral funding purposes.

Candidates and groups must be registered before accepting political donations or making payments for electoral expenditure.

Any person or entity (other than a party, group, candidate, elected member or associated 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.

Being registered as a candidate or group for the election is a separate process to being nominated in order to have the candidate’s name or a group printed on the ballot paper. Candidates and groups that have not registered before being nominated are taken to be registered when they are nominated by the Returning Officer. This is expected to occur 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.

Given the current public health situation, candidates and groups are particularly encouraged to register online using the NSW Electoral Commission’s new Funding and Disclosure Online website portal. Traditional forms, however, are also available to be downloaded from our website, including for third-party campaigners, and can be returned by email or post.

Registration only takes effect when confirmed by the NSW Electoral Commission, not the date you apply to register.

Once registered, if your registered details change you must let us know within 30 days by submitting the Notice of change of registered particulars (EF.740) form or notify us using Funding and Disclosure Online.

More information on registering for the election and updating your registered details

9. End of financial year disclosures

Political donation and electoral expenditure disclosures must be lodged by each political party, local councillor and mayor, candidate, group, associated entity and third-party campaigner:

  • Political donation disclosures for the half-yearly period 1 January to 30 June 2021 are due by 28 July 2021.

  • Annual electoral expenditure disclosures for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 are due by 22 September 2021.

Disclosures must be lodged even if no political donations were made or received during the half-yearly period and/or no electoral expenditure was incurred during the annual period (i.e., a Nil disclosure).

Disclosures can also now be submitted electronically through Funding and Disclosure Online.

Log in or request access to Funding and Disclosure Online. By using the portal, you reduce the risk of lodging invalid or incomplete disclosures and you will be able to see the status of your disclosures.

Alternatively, downloadable forms for making disclosures are available on our website.

More information about disclosing political donations and electoral expenditure

Disclosures fact sheets

10. Interest on loans for electoral campaigns

A reminder that if a political party, local councillor or mayor, candidate, group, or third-party campaigner borrows money to fund their campaign,they have accepted a political donation if the lender does not charge interest on the loan or charges interest at a rate lower than the generally prevailing interest rate for a loan of that kind.

Political donations must be disclosed, are subject to caps, and must only be made and accepted in accordance with the rules.

The generally prevailing interest rates (see Guideline 15) have been recently updated.

More information about types of political donations, including uncharged interest on loans, accepting and using political donations, and caps on political donations.