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State by-election bulletin: Upper Hunter No 2

Bulletin No. 2
Issued 4 May 2021

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1. Issue of the writ

I have received a writ dated 30 April 2021 from the Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, the Hon. Jonathan O’Dea MP, for a by-election to be held on Saturday, 22 May 2021 to return a member of the Legislative Assembly of the New South Wales Parliament for the electoral district of Upper Hunter.

2. Close of nominations

The close of nominations is 12 noon, Thursday, 6 May 2021.

Details of the nomination process were previously provided under ‘item 7: Candidate nominations’ in Bulletin 1 dated 19 April 2021.

The by-election calendar can be found on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

3. Close of candidate registrations

The close of candidate registrations for electoral funding purposes is Thursday, 6 May 2021.

A candidate must be registered before accepting political donations or paying for electoral expenditure for the by-election. Candidates who do not apply to be registered for the by-election to accept political donations and make payments for electoral expenditure are taken to be registered from the day the candidate’s nomination forms are validly submitted.

A copy of the Register of Candidates is published on our website.

4. Start of capped expenditure period

The capped expenditure period for the by-election is from Friday, 30 April 2021 to election day, Saturday, 22 May 2021. Electoral expenditure incurred in the capped expenditure period must be within the applicable expenditure caps.

The applicable expenditure cap for candidates is $265,000. Electoral expenditure incurred by a party that has an endorsed candidate at the by-election must be aggregated with electoral expenditure incurred by the candidate and must, in aggregate, not exceed $265,000.

The applicable expenditure cap of a third-party campaigner is $21,600.

For the purposes of the expenditure caps, electoral expenditure is taken to be incurred when the goods are provided or when the services are delivered. Detailed information about this rule is on our website.

5. Campaign accounts

Parties and candidates are reminded that electoral expenditure must be paid from a campaign account. Minor payments not exceeding $50 each and not exceeding $1,000 in total in the election period are exempt. Detailed information about the requirements for campaign accounts are published on our website.

6. Political donation laws

Parties, candidates and any other person accepting a political donation and/or raising funds for the by-election must comply with NSW laws that apply to political donations. This includes who can make a political donation, the caps on political donations and unlawful political donations. Detailed information is published on our website.

In addition, there is a ban on cash donations over $100. Monetary donations over $100 must be made electronically or by cheque.

The NSW Electoral Commission has published a series of short videos to increase awareness of political donation laws and the ban on cash donations over $100. Please view the videos and share them with prospective donors.

7. Conduct of ballot paper draw

The conduct of the ballot paper draw to determine the order of candidate’s names on the ballot paper will take place at the Election Manager’s office, 31 John Street, Singleton at 9am, Friday, 7 May 2021.

Candidates, representatives of registered political parties and the media are invited to witness the draw, subject to the capacity of the Election Manager’s office under current public health orders.

Attendees are requested to observe physical distancing by reducing close physical contact and staying 1.5 metres away from other people. Where physical distancing cannot be maintained I strongly recommend wearing a face mask while indoors at the Election Manager’s office. Please do not attend the draw if you are feeling unwell.

The names of nominated candidates will not be released until the conduct of the ballot paper draw.

The NSW Electoral Commission website will be updated following the draw to display candidate names and, if supplied, contact details.

8. Registration of electoral material

Electoral material (such as how-to-vote cards) to be distributed on election day must be registered with and approved by the Electoral Commissioner. It is an offence to distribute unregistered electoral material on election day.

Registration of electoral material commences on Thursday, 6 May and closes at 5.00pm, Friday 14 May 2021.

Applicants must complete the Application to register electoral material SEBY.212 available under Step 5.

To assist you in preparing your electoral material please read Preparing your electoral material SEBY.245 available under Step 5.

Posters are not required to be registered but must still meet legislative requirements including displaying the name and address of the authoriser and printer as detailed in Preparing your electoral material SEBY.245.

9. Ballot paper template

A ballot paper template to assist drafting of electoral material will be available on our website under Step 5 from the afternoon of Friday, 7 May.

10. Postal Voting

Postal voting will be available to electors who are unable to vote in person and who meet the eligibility criteria detailed on our website. An additional postal vote criteria applies for this by-election, for electors who believe that attending a voting centre on election day will pose a risk to their health or safety, or the health or safety of any other person, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online postal vote application system is available on our website for electors to apply to postal vote. Postal vote packs will be distributed to accepted postal vote applicants and registered general postal voters in the week commencing 10 May 2021. Completed postal votes must be received by the Election Manager by 6pm, Wednesday, 26 May 2021.

11. iVote

iVote technology assisted voting will be available to electors who meet prescribed eligibility criteria. These electors can use iVote to vote using their computer or other device to cast their votes. Electors may also contact the iVote voting call centre to vote with the assistance of an operator on 1300 2 iVote (1300 24 86 83) within Australia, or +61 2 9290 5287 from overseas.

The following dates will apply to iVote:

  • Open registration: 9am, Monday, 17 May 2021
  • Commence voting: 9am, Monday, 17 May 2021
  • Close registration: 1pm, Saturday 22 May 2021
  • Close voting: 6pm, Saturday 22 May 2021

12. Scrutineers for iVote

Prior to the start of voting, scrutineers will be able to observe the process of securing the iVote system, the casting of test votes, verification of those test votes, the decryption of the test votes and the confirmation that the test votes entered into iVote match the test results in the output file.

The above process is planned from 10am on Thursday 13 May at our offices at 231 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

After the close of voting on election day, the NSW Electoral Commission will undertake the process of decrypting the votes in iVote and submitting them to the count. The independent auditor of iVote will observe this process.

This decryption process is planned from 6pm on election day at our offices at 231 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Candidates or registered political parties intending to appoint scrutineers to observe these processes should contact the iVote team at ivote@elections.nsw.gov.au in advance to arrange access to the NSW Electoral Commission office.

13. Early voting

Early voting will commence on Monday, 10 May and close on Friday, 21 May 2021. Details of each early voting centre and opening hours can be found on our website.

14. Early voting at the NSWEC head office

An early voting centre will operate in the foyer of the NSW Electoral Commission office building at 231 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Candidates and party workers are not permitted to stand inside the building foyer and distribute electoral material, or within 6 metres of the entrance to that building.

15. Declared facilities

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the NSW Electoral Commission will not be visiting declared facilities, such as a hospital, nursing home, retirement village or similar facility. Declared facilities will be offered postal vote applications.

16. COVID-19 safety measures at voting centres

The NSW Electoral Commission is working with NSW Health to ensure the by-election is conducted in accordance with current public health orders. The following safety measures are planned:

  • Electors, election staff and political participants will be encouraged to check in to voting centres using the Service NSW QR code
  • Electors will be encouraged to bring their own pen (single use pens will also be available)
  • Voting centre numbers will be managed with additional election staff to minimise crowding
  • Hand sanitiser and other personal protective equipment will be available at each voting centre

We have developed instructional videos to inform electors, election officials and political participants on best practice to maintain a safe environment in early voting centres and voting centres. These videos can be found on our website for your information.

Other COVID-19 related information and safety measures can be found on our website.

17. Estimated voter turnout

To assist candidates, registered political parties and other electoral participants to estimate the number of candidate/party workers and how-to-vote cards they may require at each venue, our website will list the expected number of voters to attend each early voting centre and election day voting centre.

This information will be available under Step 5 by Friday, 7 May.