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FAQ

Updated 29 Aug 2013
 

The next election for the ACT Legislative Assembly is due to be held on 15 October 2016.

Election dates are set in the Electoral Act 1992. From 1989 until 2004 the ACT had three-year terms. The ACT Legislative Assembly now has fixed four-year terms, with elections held every four years on the third Saturday in October.

The Governor-General can dissolve the Assembly and order an early election if he or she is of the opinion that the Assembly is incapable of effectively performing its functions or is conducting its affairs in a grossly improper manner. An early election can also be held if the Assembly passes a resolution of no confidence in the Chief Minister and does not elect a Chief Minister within 30 days - such an election cannot be held within 6 months of the next scheduled ordinary election.

Timing of elections and the length of terms of office for Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly have changed a number of times since self-government. Elections for the Assembly have been held as follows:

Any person who is 18 years old on or before polling day who is on the Commonwealth electoral roll with an ACT address can vote at Assembly elections.

Persons enrolled for an ACT electoral division for an address in Jervis Bay Territory or Norfolk Island are not entitled to vote for ACT Legislative Assembly elections.

Yes. Voting is compulsory for every person on the electoral roll except for eligible overseas electors, Antarctic electors, electors serving a prison sentence outside the ACT and itinerant electors.

Voters mark preferences for candidates in the order of their choice by using the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on. Voters should mark at least as many squares as there are vacancies, but may continue to number as many squares as they wish. To be formal the ballot paper must have a number 1 and must not have more than one number 1. Ticks and crosses are not allowed.

If you are unable to vote at a polling place on polling day, you may vote at a pre-poll voting centre during the pre-poll voting period.

Addresses of pre-poll voting centres are available from this site and will be advertised in the Canberra Times, on radio and television and in a booklet delivered to all households prior to the election.

In the lead up to an ACT election, an application for a postal vote can be made in several ways:

  • by completing the online application;
  • over the phone by calling 6205 0033; or
  • by completing a paper version of the postal vote application.
Paper versions of the application forms are available from any ACT Post Office, ACT Government Shopfront or from the ACT Electoral Commission, in the lead up to, and during, an ACT election period. Paper applications can then either be posted or faxed to the ACT Electoral Commission for processing.

After receiving your application, we will mail postal voting papers to your nominated address.

In the week before polling day, mobile polling staff visit most of the ACT's hospitals and nursing homes, as well as the Alexander Maconochie Centre so that anyone residing in these institutions is able to vote.

If you will be overseas on polling day you can:

If you are leaving for overseas after ballot papers are available, pre-poll and postal voting are both options available to you. If you are already overseas by the time pre-polling commences, the only option for you is postal voting.

Australian missions overseas will have access to postal vote applications for the election. Australian missions will not be supplied with ballot papers. For a list of Australian missions overseas, visit the DFAT website.

If you are in the ACT on polling day you can vote at any polling place.

If you are not in the ACT on polling day but will be here in the pre-poll voting period you may cast a pre-poll vote.

If you are interstate during the pre-poll voting period you may be able to vote at the capital city office of any State or Northern Territory electoral office (not the Australian Electoral Commission). These will be open during normal business hours Monday to Friday - this facility is NOT available on polling day.

Otherwise, you should apply for a postal vote.

If you are going to work in the Antarctic (including Heard Island, McDonald Island and Macquarie Island), you may be eligible to enrol as an "Antarctic elector". Contact the ACT Electoral Commission or the Australian Electoral Commission for more details or an application form.

If you are in the Antarctic on polling day (or in transit on a ship to or from the Antarctic) special arrangements can be made to let you vote. Because this will require the electronic transmission of individual vote details, and because of the small number of electors involved, there may be a limited loss of secrecy of individual votes. For this reason, voting in the Antarctic is not compulsory.

You may either:

A list of all polling places is available from this site, in the lead up to an ACT election. The list will also be published in the Canberra Times on polling day and in a booklet delivered to all households before the election.

In most cases the polling places used will be the same as those used at the last election.

For ACT Legislative Assembly elections you don't need to vote at any particular polling place. You can cast an ordinary vote at any polling place in the ACT, even if you are outside your electorate.

No. You will need to vote before polling day, either at a pre-poll voting centre in Canberra or by post.

You will need to vote before polling day.

It would probably be most convenient to vote either at a pre-poll voting centre in Canberra or by completing a postal vote.

However, you will be able to cast a pre-poll vote at the capital city office of any State or Northern Territory electoral commission (not the Australian Electoral Commission). Pre-poll voting was also available at the Australian Electoral Commission Divisional offices of Gilmore, Hume and Riverina in 2008. These facilities may also be available at the 2012 election.

If you notified your change of address before the close of rolls and you received an acknowledgement card stating that the change was accepted, then you should vote for your new address at any polling place.

If you are still on the roll for your old address (if it is in the ACT) then you must vote for that address at any polling place. (If you have not yet submitted an enrolment form for your new address please do so as soon as possible.)

If you can go to a polling place, you can nominate someone to help you vote, or a polling official can help you. If someone can drive you to the polling place, a polling official can bring voting material out to you in the car.

Alternatively, someone can help you vote by post, by helping with the application form and the postal ballot material. If you are registered as a general postal voter, you will automatically be sent postal ballot material.

Mobile polling teams from Elections ACT visit many of the nursing homes and hospitals in the ACT in the week before election day to allow residents and patients the opportunity to vote.

Note that voting is still compulsory for elderly voters.

Elections ACT provides assistance to voters with disabilities in a number of ways.

Electronic voting allows voters who are blind or have visual impairment to vote independently. Elections ACT provides electronic voting at all pre-poll centres for three weeks before the election and at these same polling places on polling day.

All ACT polling places are assessed for disability access. The accessibility of each polling place is indicated on the list of polling places. This list is available from this website, in a brochure sent to all households, and in the Canberra Times the day before polling day and polling day itself. Polling places are also equipped with a voting screen for use by voters who are in a wheelchair. Polling staff can assist voters if help is asked for.

General Postal Voter (GPV) status is available if you have a  physical disability which prevents you from signing your name or if you live at home and you are too ill or infirm to travel to a polling place. For more information please see Enrolment FAQs.

Mobile polling teams from Elections ACT visit many of the nursing homes and hospitals in the ACT in the week before polling to allow residents and patients the opportunity to vote.

Registration as a general postal voter means that you will automatically be sent postal voting material as soon as possible after pre-poll voting commences for each election.

You can apply for registration as a general postal voter if:

  • you are a patient in a hospital, nursing home or similar institution that is not provided with mobile polling facilities and you are too ill or infirm to travel;
  • you live at home and you are too ill or infirm to travel;
  • you are detained in lawful custody (for example, serving a prison sentence);
  • you have a physical disability which prevents you from signing your name and have provided on enrolling (or can provide) a doctor's certificate to this effect;
  • you live more than 20 km by the nearest practicable route from a polling place;
  • your address is not shown on the roll because you are a silent elector; or
  • because of your religious beliefs you are precluded from attending a polling place.

Contact the ACT Electoral Commission or the Australian Electoral Commission for more details or an application form.

If you do not vote you will receive a letter asking for an explanation. If you have a valid reason you will not be fined.

If you do not have a valid reason, you will be given the opportunity of paying a $20 penalty. If you do not pay the penalty you may be taken to court, where the penalty is $50 plus court costs.

You should contact Elections ACT (6205 0033) as soon as possible if you will be or have been unable to vote at the election. If you have a valid reason, you will not be sent the failure to vote notice.

Seventeen (17) Members are to be elected to the Assembly at the next election.

There are three electorates - Brindabella, Ginninderra and Molonglo.

The Hare-Clark electoral system is used for ACT Legislative Assembly elections. This is the electoral system chosen by a majority of voters at the referendum held on 15 February 1992. The Hare-Clark system is also used to elect Members of the Tasmanian House of Assembly.

The Hare-Clark system is a method of proportional representation. To be elected, a candidate must obtain a quota of votes in an electorate.

Candidates' names are listed on the ballot papers in columns. Two or more candidates nominated by a registered political party are listed in a party column. Independent candidates and candidates nominated by registered political parties that have nominated only one candidate for that electorate, are included in "ungrouped" columns on the ballot papers.

Ballot papers are printed using "Robson rotation". This means that the names in each column of candidates are printed in different orders on consecutive ballot papers so that no candidate in a column has the advantage of appearing in the same position on every ballot paper. For example, if there are 5 candidates in a column, that column will be printed with one-fifth of all ballot papers having candidate "A" in the top position, another fifth of all ballot papers having candidate "B" in the top position, and so on for each candidate in the column.

Using Robson rotation, voters wishing to vote for particular candidates must be aware that the order of candidates' names printed on each ballot paper might be different from any order they may have seen on a sample ballot paper or published list of candidates.

For more information on ballot papers and Robson rotation, view our ballot paper factsheet.

This depends on the number of candidates, but the final result is expected around 1 to 2 weeks after polling day. Preliminary results are available on election night.

Requirements for authorising printed electoral matter (including in an electronic form such as an internet site) are regulated under the Electoral Act 1992 and are outlined in the authorising electoral material factsheet and the Candidate's Information Handbook.

Authorisations for TV and radio political advertising are regulated under the Commonwealth's Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (TV and radio are under Commonwealth jurisdiction under the Constitution). The responsible authority is the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The relevant rules for TV and radio political advertising are set out on the Australian Communications and Media Authority's site - for rules concerning TV and radio advertising click here.

Election advertising in the electronic media is subject to a 'blackout' from midnight on the Wednesday before polling day until polling day. The blackout does not relate to news broadcasts or to the printed media. This is a requirement of the Broadcasting Act not the Electoral Act. For further information contact the Australian Communications and Media Authority. For ACT elections, the blackout only applies to election advertisements related to an ACT election that are broadcast in or across the ACT.

Yes. As much paper and cardboard electoral material is reused or recycled as possible. Recycled paper is also used wherever possible for electoral documents.

The 2008 election cost around $2.2 million in addition to the regular budget for the ACT Electoral Commission. More details on the Commission's budget is contained in each year's annual report.

More details on elections and voting may be obtained by contacting the ACT Electoral Commission.

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