Go to content

NSW State by-elections 2022: Political Participants Bulletin No.2

Bulletin No.2
Issued 3 February 2022

On this page

Postal vote packs commence distribution

As outlined in Bulletin No.1, to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, a postal pack is being issued to all electors in the districts of Bega, Monaro, Strathfield, and Willoughby state districts. Postal pack distribution commenced on 1 February 2022 and will be completed by 4 February 2022.

Postal voting processes for these State by-elections

The NSW Electoral Commission maintains strict control and security measures to ensure the integrity of election processes. The following information outlines some of the specific procedures that are in place for the upcoming State by-elections for expanded postal voting.

How are electors being made aware of the voting options for the upcoming State by-elections?

Information posted to every elector

Every elector will be issued with a postal vote pack to their current enrolled address. The pack includes an election brochure that outlines all voting options, including voting in person before or on election day.

Postal vote instructions are also included in the elector brochure outlining the five steps electors must take to complete their postal pack correctly:

  1. Read, sign and date the certificate of elector in the presence of a witness

  2. Ask the witness to complete the witness section

  3. Complete the ballot paper

  4. Fold and place the completed ballot paper inside the postal vote certificate envelope and seal it

  5. Post their envelope as early as possible.

Additional information on the NSW Electoral Commission website about postal voting

In addition to the State by-election brochures being posted to each elector, information about postal voting is available on our website on each by-election home page:

Bega State by-election

Monaro State by-election

Strathfield State by-election

Willoughby State by-election

View frequently asked questions (FAQs) about postal voting at these elections 

Voter awareness campaign about postal voting in these elections

A media campaign is underway to raise awareness of postal vote packs being universally distributed and the by-elections more generally, which includes:

1.  Geotargeted digital advertising to raise awareness in the four districts.

2.  Election reminder service emails and SMS sent to all service subscribers at the commencement of early voting and just before election day.

Specific voter awareness measures for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities about postal voting

General information about how to vote in NSW is already translated on the NSW Electoral Commission website into 24 languages.

For these by-elections, where all voters enrolled in the four electoral districts are being sent postal voting packs for the first time, additional translated resources have been created. That information is available in the seven most prevalent languages other than English spoken in NSW, with lower English language proficiency: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.

In addition, social media advertising tiles in Cantonese and Mandarin are being placed to assist speakers of those languages who are electors in the districts of Strathfield and Willoughby.

This information will direct electors to the specific, translated “How to vote” material for the State by-elections on the NSW Electoral Commission website. Advertising has also been placed in the Australian Chinese Daily (online and print editions).

The NSW Electoral Commission is also directly briefing its CALD reference group members and has provided them with information about all the voting options (including the postal pack) available for the State by-elections.

The CALD reference group members will also be provided with copies of or links to the NSW Electoral Commission’s new translated assets specifically explaining the postal vote pack and voting options for these elections.

Security of ballot papers

The NSW Electoral Commission will have strict ballot paper security throughout the postal voting process.

1. Postal ballot papers are transported from printing to the facility of the company providing mail fulfilment services in sealed cartons. A numbered, tamper-evident seal is used. The seal number must be verified and recorded when the carton is unsealed at the mail fulfilment facility.

2. The fulfilment of postal ballot packs includes strict quality assurance processes to ensure that the correct ballot paper, postal vote certificate envelope and other postal pack contents are sent to an elector. This is managed by staff of the mail fulfilment service provider and overseen by NSW Electoral Commission officials who will be present throughout the process.

3. Australia Post collects the postal packs directly from the mail fulfilment facility for processing at their distribution centre. Records are maintained of the number of packs collected during each collection.

4. All Australia Post facilities, including distribution centres, local delivery centres and retail outlets are secured sites.

5. Australia Post street posting boxes are only accessible by authorised staff to ensure the security of mail while it travels through their network.

6. Completed postal packs returned to the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre are stored securely. The quantity of postal packs received is recorded and reconciled before the preliminary scrutiny. After that scrutiny, ballot papers removed from postal vote certificate envelopes are placed in ballot paper cartons which are sealed with numbered, tamper-evident seals. The number of each seal is recorded. The seal number must be verified and recorded when the carton is unsealed for the ballot papers to be counted.

7. Scrutineers can be present to observe these processes and witness the sealing and unsealing of ballot paper cartons.

8. Additional security personnel will be present at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre from the time postal vote packs are returned.

Election integrity measures

Election integrity is maintained throughout the postal vote process supported by the following processes.

An elector must certify on their postal vote certificate envelope that:

  • they have not already voted and will not vote again in this election

  • they are entitled to vote at the election

  • they signed and dated the envelope in the presence of a witness before 6pm on election day

  • the information they have given on the certificate is true and complete

  • they understand that making a false statement on the certificate is an offence.

When undertaking preliminary scrutiny, election officials will confirm the following before accepting the postal ballot paper sealed in the envelope:

  • the elector appears on the electoral roll for the relevant district

  • the certificate has been signed by the elector and a witness

  • the certificate has been dated by the elector and the witness on the same day and before the close of voting

  • the elector has not voted by any other voting channel for the election.

For these by-elections, preliminary scrutiny of postal votes will not occur until all authorised rolls used in voting centres on the election day are scanned and voting records available for cross-checking against returned postal packs. This will ensure that the elector mark off records from early voting, declaration voting and voting on the election day are checked at the scrutiny. In accordance with the Electoral Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation 2022, any postal voter who has been marked as having already voted will have their postal vote rejected and the ballot paper will not be counted.

Procedures at voting centres will make clear that electors are not to place postal ballot papers in a ballot box. Election officials will store and return separately any postal votes received at a voting centre.

Postal ballot papers have been printed with additional features and in a different colour so that they can be distinguished from a ballot paper issued at a voting centre.

All postal votes will be processed at our Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre in Sydney. Scrutineers are invited to be present to observe these processes.

Who is eligible to be a witness?

The Electoral Act 2017 does not limit who may witness an elector completing their postal vote certificate.

When completing preliminary scrutiny of a postal vote certificate, an election official will only confirm that the certificate has been signed by a witness and dated on the same day as the elector.

Counting postal votes

All postal votes will be scrutinised and counted at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre. The centralisation of postal vote processing for the State by-elections will ensure consistency of directions and decisions in relation to scrutiny and count activities.

The centralisation of these activities also provides for all postal votes to be checked against other voting records to reduce the risk of multiple votes being counted for an elector.

Information regarding the formality of ballot papers is outlined in the State by-election candidate handbook. Count staff will undergo both online and face to face training to ensure they understand the relevant formality decisions that they will be required to make during the count of postal votes.

All postal ballots will undergo both an initial manual count as well as a second data entry check count where two election officials oversee the data entry of all ballot papers including the entry of informal ballots. The computer count system will use this data entry to determine the formality of the ballot paper.

The NSW Electoral Commission has engaged an independent auditor to review and observe postal vote processes throughout the election to ensure that documented procedures and controls are being followed.

Candidates and registered political parties can appoint scrutineers to observe postal vote activities and formality decisions.

The Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre will have dedicated NSW Electoral Commission scrutineer liaison officers that can support any queries raised by appointed scrutineers.

Reissue of postal ballot papers

Electors can contact the NSW Electoral Commission to request the reissue of a postal pack if they have not received their pack or know they will not be at their enrolled address during the election period.

Reissues will be managed by our elector enquiry centre and staff will undertake an enrolment verification check to confirm the elector’s details before issuing a replacement pack. A record will be made of every reissue. A different coloured envelope will be provided with reissued packs so that those postal votes can be identified when returned. When that occurs, an election official will make a further check that only one of the packs has been returned by the elector.

Reissues will occur up to 6pm Monday, 7 February to facilitate the postal pack reaching the elector before election day.

Scrutineer and party/candidate worker guidelines

The SEBY.233 Scrutineer and party/candidate worker guidelines provide important information for political participants supporting election activities. The guidelines also outline important information on what a scrutineer can and cannot do at the election as well as the COVID-19 safety protocols in place for scrutineers for these by-elections.

Scrutineer activities

Candidates and registered political parties are reminded that they can appoint scrutineers to observe key election activities.

In the week commencing 7 February scrutineers can observe the following operations:

Telephone voting

Telephone voting will be available for electors who are blind or have low vision.

Telephone voting operations will occur at the NSW Electoral Commission head office in Sydney from 7 to 12 February. Scrutineers can observe the sealing of the ballot box prior to voting opening at 9am on 7 February.

To enquire about appointing a scrutineer to observe this process contact the candidate helpdesk on 1300 022 011.

Initial Postal Vote Scrutiny

From 7 February 2022, election officials will commence initial scrutiny on returned postal vote certificates.

Following the scanning of election day authorised rolls subsequent scrutiny will be undertaken to verify postal votes against voting data to check that any electors who have voted during early voting and election day voting have not also lodged a postal vote. This scrutiny is expected to commence at the Centralised Postal Vote Centre from Wednesday 16 February 2022.

Candidates and registered political parties are invited to appoint scrutineers to observe these processes. To enquire about appointing a scrutineer to observe this process contact the candidate helpdesk on 1300 022 011.

For more information about appointing scrutineers, please visit the State by-election Six steps to being a candidate page.