NSW State by-elections 2022: Political Participants Bulletin No.3
Issued 9 February 2022
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Regulated period for electoral material
The regulated period for electoral material (including how-to-vote material) commenced on Friday, 21 January and ends at 6pm on election day, Saturday, 12 February. Electoral material produced, published, distributed or displayed during the regulated period for the by-elections must comply with the requirements of the Electoral Act 2017. Electoral material that is to be distributed on election day must be registered with the NSW Electoral Commission. As advised in Bulletin 1, registration closed at 5pm, Friday 4 February.
The NSW Electoral Commission monitors and enforces compliance with the legislative requirements of the Electoral Act relating to electoral material. It is an offence to fail to comply with those requirements.
Registered electoral materials for these by-elections are available on the NSW Electoral Commission website.
Compliance operations during the voting period
NSW Electoral Commission inspectors are visiting voting centres during the early voting period and on election day. These inspectors are monitoring that electoral material and the conduct of candidates, third-party campaigners and their campaign volunteers comply with the legislation. Directions given by an inspector or other election officials must be complied with.
Distribution of material after election day about the return of postal votes
Any parties or candidates considering the distribution of material after 6pm on election day to prompt voters to return postal ballot papers are reminded of the following:
Postal ballot papers must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission no later than 6pm Friday 25 February 2022
Postal vote certificates contain a legal declaration that they have been completed by 6pm on election day
Any material published by candidates or parties must not state or imply, through the use of text or images, that postal voting is permissible after 6pm on election day
Expenditure incurred on the production and distribution of material after election day may still constitute electoral expenditure. Electoral expenditure incurred must be disclosed to the NSW Electoral Commission as part of an annual disclosure of electoral expenditure for the 12-month period ending 30 June 2022
Electoral expenditure incurred by a party, or by a party agent on behalf of a candidate who is a member of the party, must be paid from the party’s state campaign account. Electoral expenditure incurred by a candidate who is not a member of a registered party, must be paid from the candidate’s campaign account, if an account is required to be kept
Any electoral expenditure incurred on material distributed after election day is not subject to a cap on electoral expenditure and cannot be included in a claim for payment from the Election Campaigns Fund.
Electoral expenditure is expenditure for, or in connection with, promoting or opposing, directly or indirectly, a party or the election of a candidate or candidates or for the purpose of influencing, directly or indirectly, the voting at an election. This may include for a current by-election or a future state or local government election. Parties and candidates should seek their own advice as to whether expenditure incurred or being contemplated is electoral expenditure.
Reissue of postal vote packs
The deadline for reissue of postal vote packs has now passed. This is necessary to ensure that all postal packs are received by electors to allow them to complete their vote by 6pm on election day. Electors who have not received their postal pack should visit our website for other voting options.
An online candidate seminar will be held by the NSW Electoral Commission at 4pm on Thursday, 10 February. The seminar will provide an overview of the postal vote processes including further detail in relation to the scrutiny of the postal vote packs for these by-elections. The seminar will include an opportunity for participants to ask questions about any specific issues they would like clarified.
To attend the seminar candidates and other political participants will be required to register so that meeting details and access to the seminar can be provided. Please contact our candidate helpdesk on 1300 022 011 or by emailing email@example.com to register for the seminar.
Non-English language support for electors
The NSW Electoral Commission has provided additional support for electors whose primary language is not English:
Translated voting information and instructions on postal voting are available on our website in the top 7 languages spoken by NSW electors who are not also proficient in English. These are Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.
Translation and interpreting services are available via our call centre via the national Translation and interpreting Service (131 450), the National Relay Service (weekdays) and Auslan interpreters on election Saturday.
Staff with language skills are available to assist voters at voting centres. Staff wear badges indicating the languages they speak.
Translated resources have been shared with the NSW Electoral Commission’s standing CALD reference group members, for distribution to their members and networks.
Print and digital advertising in the Australian Chinese Daily
Social media tiles in Mandarin and Cantonese targeted to Willoughby and Strathfield connecting to translated education resources on our website.
Advertising placed with SBS digital in the top 7 languages spoken by NSW electors who are not also proficient in English. These are Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.
Scrutiny of returned postal vote certificate envelopes
As advised in Bulletin 2, returned postal vote certificate envelopes containing completed postal vote ballot papers will undergo initial scrutiny at 231 Elizabeth street, Sydney from Monday, 7 February until Friday 11 February and continue at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre, Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney from Monday 14 February. This first step will include checking the postal vote certificates to ensure they have been signed by the elector and witness.
A second step in the scrutiny of returned postal vote certificate envelopes will commence on Wednesday, 16 February, at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre. The second scrutiny will also check whether an elector who has returned a postal vote was marked off on a roll used at a voting centre as having voted in person on the election day.
The postal vote certificate envelopes will also be scrutinised for compliance with the other legislative requirements for postal voting. It is only after these steps have been completed that ballot papers from accepted returned postal vote certificate envelopes can be extracted and counted. If the legislative requirements for completing a postal vote certificate envelope have not been met, the ballot paper must be disallowed by the Electoral Commissioner without opening the envelope.
Electors are not permitted by the legislation to correct errors or omissions that election officials may identify in their postal vote certificates. This is the process followed during preliminary scrutiny at all recent state and local government elections.
To assist scrutineers to understand the process for determining if postal vote certificates have been properly signed and witnessed, the instructions issued by the Electoral Commissioner to election officials are available on our website.
Preliminary scrutiny will continue each day up to the deadline for receipt of returned postal vote certificate envelopes at 6pm, Friday, 25 February.
Initial counting of accepted postal votes will commence from Saturday, 19 February.
As explained in Bulletin 2, candidates and/or registered political parties are entitled to appoint scrutineers to witness the above processes. Please refer to the Scrutineers section below for more information.
All ballot papers will undergo the following initial counts:
first preference initial count
two-candidates preferred initial count
The following table details the locations and times for the commencement of the initial counts.
|Vote type||Time and location of count|
|Election day voting centres||At each voting centre from 6pm, Saturday 12 February|
At the Election Manager’s office from 6pm, Saturday 12 February and will continue, on Monday 14 February
At the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre, Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney
|Declaration votes [absent, enrolment (including name not on roll), name already marked as voted] and Telephone Voting ballot papers|
At the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre, Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney
Check Count (Data entry)
After the initial count of voting centre, early voting centre, postal and declaration ballot papers, these ballot papers will undergo a check count. The check count is the official count that involves entering the votes recorded on the ballot papers into the NSW Electoral Commission’s computer count system.
The following table details the locations and times for the commencement of the check count.
|Vote type||Time and location of count|
|Election day voting centres and early voting centres||At the Election Manager’s office from Tuesday 15 February|
|Declaration votes [absent, enrolment (including name not on roll), name already marked as voted] and Telephone Voting ballot papers||At the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre, Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney from Thursday, 17 February|
At the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney from Monday 21 February
Please note the above counting timeline is subject to change dependent on the volume of electors who choose to cast a postal vote and other factors such as COVID-19 related disruptions to operations.
Distribution of preferences
The distribution of preferences is conducted at the respective Election Manager’s office using the computer count system.
It is currently planned that the results will be announced by the Electoral Commissioner by Friday, 11 March. Further details will be provided closer to that date.
Publication of election results
Initial count results for voting centres and early voting centres will appear on the NSW Electoral Commission’s website from approximately 7pm on election day, Saturday, 12 February.
The website will be continually updated from Monday, 14 February as the initial counts and check counts of the ballot papers progress.
After the Election Manager for each district has conducted distribution of preferences, the website will be updated to show the full distribution of preferences.
Additional scrutineers – COVID safety
At each voting centre and ballot counting place, candidates and registered political parties are entitled to have at least one scrutineer present. Additional scrutineers may be permitted at the discretion of the Electoral Commissioner and local election officials.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the large number of candidates contesting each by-election, additional scrutineer numbers will need to be limited to ensure that safe physical distancing within venues is able to be maintained.
To ensure fairness for all election participants, additional scrutineers for both a party and its endorsed candidate will not be allowed within a venue at the same time if the total number of scrutineers would exceed safe venue limits.
Venue capacity limits and scrutineer numbers at voting centres and at Election Managers’ offices will be managed by the venue manager at each venue. Scrutineers should liaise with those venue managers to determine how many scrutineers can be accommodated at each site.
Scrutineers who wish to attend the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre to observe postal and declaration vote processing will be required to register their attendance prior to attending. This registration is required to facilitate access to the site and to allow election officials to manage capacity limits. To register scrutineer attendance at the Centralised Postal Vote Count Centre, contact the candidates’ helpdesk on telephone 1300 022 011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NSW Electoral Commission is running this election, including the counting process, consistent with its COVID-19 Safety Plan. Further information about the Safety Plan is on our website. The advice in this bulletin regarding attendance of scrutineers may be subject to change at short notice to comply with COVID-19 health orders and the Safety Plan.
Scrutineers must be appointed in writing by completing an Appointment of Scrutineer Form SE.213 available on the website. Scrutineers must complete the declaration on that form each time they wish to attend a voting centre, Election Manager’s office or counting place.