Go to content

2021 NSW Local Government elections: Political Participants Bulletin No.18

Bulletin No. 18
Issued 3 December 2021

On this page

1. Election day

Operation of polling places

Polling places will open on election day, Saturday 4 December 2021, from 8am until 6pm. The list of pre-poll and polling place projections for the 2021 Local government elections is available on our website, under step 5 of the Six steps to being a candidate page.

Due to flooding across NSW, however, a small number of polling places may need to be abolished today by the Electoral Commissioner. Please check our website for updates and follow any advice being given in your area by local emergency services about road closures or other flood-related advice.

Voting at a small number of polling places may also need to be suspended for one or two short periods to maintain safety due to reduced availability of staff. Any candidates or volunteers at impacted polling places will be advised of the details by polling place staff before voting begins on the day.  

No absentee voting

Candidates are reminded that there is no absentee voting available at local government elections. On election day an elector can only vote at the following types of polling places:

  • undivided council area – at any polling place within the council area in which the elector is enrolled or claiming enrolment

  • multi-council – polling places that are located on or near the boundary between two or more council areas may issue ballot papers for more than one council area

  • council area with wards – at any polling place within the ward in which the elector is enrolled or claiming enrolment, and

  • multi-ward – polling places that are located on or near the boundary between two or more wards in a council area may issue votes for all those wards.

The following NSW Electoral Commission helpdesks will be available on election day during voting hours for candidates and electors:

2. Display of posters and distribution of electoral material

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission between electors, election officials and candidate/political party volunteers, the Electoral Commissioner has issued directions under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021 to limit some campaigning activities within 100 metres of a polling place.


No posters can be displayed in a publicly owned or occupied area (such as on the footpath or school fences) within 100 metres of the entrance to a polling place or pre-poll venue on polling days, unless they are put in place before 7am (and are otherwise lawful and safe – such as not obstructing electors or other people). Any posters put in place before 7am on a polling day must not to be adjusted or moved again until after 7pm. This direction applies to all types of posters, including A-frames and corflutes.

How-to-vote and other electoral material

No electoral material is to be handed out, or left out for collection, in a publicly owned or occupied area (such as on the footpath) that is within 100 metres of the entrance to a polling place or a pre-polling venue on polling days.

The NSW Electoral Commission appreciates the cooperation of the majority of participants with these measures to help protect everyone’s health and safety. Participants are reminded, however, that Electoral Commission staff will be monitoring compliance during the day. To maintain safety and fairness, election officials may issue legal directions to persons who are not complying and may confiscate material that is being handed out or displayed in breach of the directions.

Participants are also reminded that only electoral material registered with the NSW Electoral Commission is permitted to be handed out on election day (where that is permitted under the new direction – such as outside the 100 metre area). It is an offence to distribute electoral material in a public place on election day unless the material is registered.

Registered electoral materials are displayed on the NSW Electoral Commission website on election day, Saturday, 4 December 2021.

Electors who use iVote will have the option of viewing registered electoral material on the NSW Electoral Commission website before casting their vote.

Training videos

The following training videos are available to assist candidates, party workers and scrutineers on election day.

3. Electoral material enquiries or complaints

If you have concerns that electoral material used or published during the regulated election period is or was unlawful, complaints should be made in writing by emailing us at candidates@elections.nsw.gov.au.

A complaint should include a copy of the electoral material. For electoral material published on the internet, a URL link or the name of a social media account and a screenshot should be provided.

The NSW Electoral Commission conducts elections in accordance with the law and in a transparent, fair and impartial way. While your complaint will be acknowledged, you may not receive a response, particularly on election day, explaining what action has been taken. We may also be limited in what can be confirmed about any investigation or other action that is taken.

The NSW Electoral Commission will consider its compliance and enforcement policies when reviewing complaints about electoral material. Relevant principles include:

  • proportionality: any action decided upon by the NSW Electoral Commission will be proportionate to the seriousness of potential breaches of the law and the surrounding circumstances

  • prioritisation: complaints are prioritised according to a number of considerations, including, but not limited to, legislative timeframes and the known or foreseeable impact of potential breaches of the law

  • use of resources: decisions are made about allegations, including potential investigation and enforcement action, in a way that uses the resources of the NSW Electoral Commission appropriately.

4. Scrutineers for iVote

Candidates are reminded that they may apply to send scrutineers to observe iVote processes. After the close of voting, scrutineers can observe the rejection of any votes from the system, the decryption of the votes and the process of submitting votes to the count.

Candidates or political parties intending to appoint scrutineers should contact the iVote team at ivote@elections.nsw.gov.au in advance to receive information about the dates and times these processes will occur and arrange access to the NSW Electoral Commission offices located in the Sydney CBD.

All candidates will need to appoint iVote scrutineers using the LG.213 Scrutineer Appointment form available from our website. All scrutineers who attend a NSWEC election venue will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, check in to our venue using the NSW Services QR venue code and numbers may be limited in some circumstances.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please do not hesitate to contact the candidate helpdesk on 1300 022 011.

5. Protection from COVID-19 in our voting and counting venues

The NSW Electoral Commission has put in place measures to minimise risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of electors, election staff and political participants, including to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Everyone who attends election venues during an election also has a work health and safety duty to take reasonable care for their own and others’ health and safety arising from COVID-19.

To minimise COVID-19 risks, the Electoral Commissioner has decided that to be eligible to work in voting venues, counting places, and Returning Officers’ offices, election officials must be vaccinated (unless they have a medical contraindication) and must wear face masks when working. Our election officials will also be authorised to give instructions to voters and political participants at our venues to follow the NSWEC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan at these elections. Wearing a face mask in a polling place is mandatory.


The NSW Electoral Commission acknowledges the importance of scrutineering in ensuring transparency in the electoral process.

For the safe conduct of the 2021 Local Government elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it has been necessary to introduce a number of COVID-19 safety protocols. These protocols include a requirement for all scrutineers who will be attending an election venue to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and for scrutineer numbers to be managed to ensure COVID-safe venue capacity is not exceeded in particular venues. All candidates who intend to appoint scrutineers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the protocol as soon as possible. 

Candidates in contests where the office of the Returning Officer is small and may be particularly impacted by COVID-19 venue capacity rules will be notified directly to help them plan for scrutiny.

Please refer to the 'COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Scrutineers for the 2021 Local Government elections' section in the LG.233H Scrutineer and party/candidate worker guidelines.