Information for Candidates

Updated 20 Dec 2019

2020 Candidate handbook

The Candidate's Information Handbook for the 2020 ACT election is intended to summarise the electoral law relating to candidates for the 2020 ACT Legislative Assembly, but is not a substitute for the law.  It is recommended that all prospective candidates download the Candidate's Information Handbook , or contact the Elections ACT for a printed version.

The handbook incorporates the provisions of the Electoral Act as they apply as at 20 December 2019.  At this time there were electoral amendment bills before the Legislative Assembly that, if passed into law, may require amendments to this handbook. Readers are strongly advised to regularly check to this webpage for the latest version of this handbook.

A Non-party candidate fact sheet is also available for candidates who are running, or considering running, at the 2020 ACT election, but will not be endorsed by a registered political party.

Candidates should also familiarise themselves with the Scrutineer's Information Handbook (pdf - 2506 kb).  An updated version of this handbook for 2020 election will be made available in mid 2020.

Scrutineers Information 2012

The Scrutineers information handbook is intended to summarise electoral law, but is not a substitute for the law.

Forms for appointing scrutineers are available (pdf file - 25 kb).

Candidates should also familiarise themselves with the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate brochure entitled Electoral advertising and the Public Unleased Land (Movable Signs) Code of Practice 2013

Qualifications

In general, to be eligible to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), a person must be:
  • an Australian citizen;
  • at least 18 years of age; and
  • an ACT elector or entitled to be an ACT elector.

There are a number of exceptions explained in detail in the full version of the Candidate's Information Handbook.

Nominations

Candidates can be nominated in two ways:

  • non-party candidates can be nominated by twenty electors who are entitled to vote for the electorate for which the candidate is being nominated; or
  • party candidates can be nominated by the registered officer of the registered political party.

A nomination should be made on the approved form provided by the ACT Electoral Commission.

Nomination forms will NOT be available from this site; prospective candidates should contact the Commission for a form just prior to the nomination period commencing.

It is important to note that prospective candidates can commence their campaign at any time. Candidates do not have to be formally nominated or have their nomination declared by the Electoral Commissioner before they start campaigning.

A deposit of $250 must accompany each candidate's nomination. The deposit must be in cash or banker's cheque. A personal cheque is not acceptable.

The deposit is returned to a candidate if:

  • the candidate is elected; or
  • at the time at which the candidate is excluded during the counting of preferences, the candidate's total votes equal or exceed 20% of the quota for the election; or
  • the candidate is neither elected nor excluded during the counting of preferences, and the candidate's total votes equal or exceed 20% of the quota for the election at any stage of the count.

Candidates will be listed on ballot papers in either "party grouped" or "ungrouped" columns. Party candidates will be grouped together in a column for their party. Where only one party candidate stands in an electorate, that candidate will be listed in an ungrouped column. All non-party candidates will be listed in an ungrouped column. An ungrouped non-party candidate can choose to have the word "Independent" printed under his or her name on the ballot paper.

The Electoral Commissioner will conduct a random draw to determine the position of each group for each electorate. Each particular group will appear in the same column position on every ballot paper for their electorate. The ungrouped column or columns will be listed on the right-hand side of the ballot paper.

Candidates' names will be printed in each column using the "Robson rotation" method. Candidates' names in each column 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.

More information on nominations is provided in the Candidate's Information Handbook and details on party registration may be found in the Party Registration Guideline.

Electoral offences

There are a range of electoral offences relating to the responsibilities of candidates and to election campaigning generally. These are explained in full in 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. For the relevant rules for TV and radio political advertising click here.

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 handbook.

Candidates should also familiarise themselves with the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate brochure entitled Electoral advertising and the Public Unleased Land (Movable Signs) Code of Practice 2013.

Candidates may appoint scrutineers to represent them at every polling place on polling day and each early voting centre in the ACT during the 3 weeks before polling day. Candidates may also appoint scrutineers to represent them at every scrutiny centre at which votes are being counted or a "preliminary scrutiny" of declaration votes is taking place.

Scrutineers

Candidates must appoint scrutineers by supplying a written notice to the Electoral Commission. Appointment forms are available for appointing scrutineers (pdf file - 25 kb).

Each scrutineer must sign an undertaking on the approved form (attached to the appointment form) that he or she will not attempt to influence the vote of an elector and that he or she will not disclose any knowledge acquired concerning the vote of any elector.

More information on scrutineers is provided in the Candidate's Information Handbook or in the Scrutineers Information Handbook. An updated version for the 2020 election will be made available.

Election funding

Public funding is available to parties and independent candidates contesting an election. The public funding rate for the 17 October 2020 election will be calculated after April 2020 and provided to those parties and independent candidates receiving at least 4% of the formal first preference votes cast in an election.

No person is obliged to accept public funding.

More information on election funding is available from this site.

Disclosure of donations and expenditure

All candidates contesting an election are required to submit details of donations received, debts incurred, and expenditure undertaken in relation to the election. These details for party candidates are included with the details provided by party groupings. These details are made public. More information on disclosure requirements is available from this site or in the Candidate's Information Handbook and the handbook "Funding, expenditure and financial disclosure - 2020 Election" available in early 2020.