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Absent Vote

A vote cast at a polling place in an electoral district other than that for which the elector is enrolled.

Absolute Majority

The number of votes which constitute at least one more than half of the total valid votes, e.g. 50% of the votes +1 vote.

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Ballot Box

The sealed container into which a voter places a ballot paper.

Ballot Paper

The paper on which a vote is marked. The ballot paper shows the candidates' names, affiliation (if any), or in the case of a referendum, the question(s). It also contains voting instructions.


An election conducted for a Legislative Assembly district where there is a casual vacancy.

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A person who nominates for election.

Casual Vacancy

A vacancy that arises for reasons other than the Parliament’s expiration or dissolution, such as the resignation, retirement or death of the current member.

For local government elections, a casual vacancy arises when an elected mayor or councillor leaves the position prior to the expiry of term. Also known as an extraordinary vacancy.


Administrative body of a Local Government district.

Court of Disputed Returns

The Court of Disputed Returns has jurisdiction to hear petitions in which the validity of any election or return is disputed. A single Supreme Court Judge exercises this jurisdiction for Parliamentary elections and a Magistrate for Local Government elections.

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In a democracy, the people or citizens of the country have the right to have a say in how they are governed and what laws are passed. Australia is a ‘representative democracy’, electors choose people to represent them and make decisions on their behalf.


The review and redrawing of electoral boundaries. For State elections in Western Australia it is conducted every four years by the Electoral Distribution Commissioners in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Distribution Act 1947. Schedule 2.1 of the Local Government Act 1995 also provides for the review of Local Government boundaries.


The State of Western Australia is divided into 59 electoral districts. For each of these districts one member is elected to the Legislative Assembly. A local government City, Shire or Town can also be referred to as a district.

Donkey Vote

A ballot paper that has been marked from top to bottom, 1, 2, 3, etc, where an elector has not given any consideration to their candidate preferences. A reverse donkey vote is marked in the same way, but from bottom to top (e.g. 3, 2, 1).

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Early Vote

Early vote (in person)

A vote cast at a designated polling place before polling day.

Early vote (by post)

A vote cast by post by an elector who has successfully applied to receive their vote by post. Ballot papers are sent to an elector’s nominated address, and the completed papers returned by post. Only eligible electors can complete an early vote (by post).


A general term referring to a State district or region. It can also refer to the people within the electorate who are eligible to vote.


A person whose name appears on a roll as eligible to vote for State, Federal or local Government elections.

Electoral Roll

A list of names and addresses of electors entitled to vote in an election or referendum.


The act of having a person's name added to the list of electors entitled to vote.

Exhausted Vote

A vote which has reached the stage where, when distributing preferences, no further preferences can be distributed.

Extraordinary Election

A local government election held to fill an extraordinary or casual vacancy.

Extraordinary Vacancy

See casual vacancy.

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‘First-past-the-post’ voting system

Under this system, the candidate with the most votes is elected. If more than one candidate is to be elected, the candidate with the second-most votes is elected, and so on, until all positions are filled. This system of voting is used in local government and non-parliamentary elections.

Formal Vote

A ballot paper which has been marked correctly according to instructions, and is counted towards the outcome of the poll.


The right to vote at elections. The franchise in Australian elections is available to eligible adults with "adult" being defined as over the age of 18 years. Also, suffrage.

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General Election

An election for all the seats in a House of State Parliament.

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A candidate or elected Member of Parliament who is not endorsed by a political party.

Informal Vote

A ballot paper that is either left blank or does not show preferences in accordance with the law. In a State election a ballot paper will also be informal if the voter can be identified through some marking which has been made on it. These ballot papers neither contribute to the election of a candidate nor are they included in calculating the quota or absolute majority.

Issuing Officer

A person engaged by the Returning Officer on behalf of the Electoral Commission to issue votes.

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Legislative Assembly

In Western Australia, this is the Lower House of Parliament and it is comprised of 59 members. The party or coalition of parties that achieves a majority of seats in this House forms the government.

Legislative Council

In Western Australia this is the Upper House of Parliament. It is sometimes referred to as the "House of Review" and is comprised of 36 members elected from the State's six regions.

Legislative Council Group

Two or more candidates for an election in a Legislative Council region may request to have their names included in a group on the ballot paper.

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Mobile Polling

Polling which is carried out by polling officials who travel to remote areas, hospitals and special institutions in a specified period either prior to or on polling day, to allow eligible electors who would not be able to attend a polling place on polling day to vote.

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The process by which a person applies to become a candidate for election.

Non-Parliamentary Election

See Other election.

Notional Distribution of Preferences

A notional distribution of preferences anticipates the flow of preferences of minor candidates to the two major candidates, who are designated by the Electoral Commissioner. The notional distribution gives a quick two-party preferred result that is usually an early indicator of the final election result. It does not take the place of the full distribution of preferences.

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Ordinary Election

A local government election conducted when the term of office of an elected mayor, president or councillor is due to end. Ordinary elections are held on the third Saturday in October every four years for mayor or president, and every two years for half the councillors.

Other election

A non parliamentary election that does not refer to a State election. Usually, it refers to an industrial, or union election, or an election for a non- government organisation.

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Political Party

A political party is a body or organisation with a constitution or set of rules and stated political objectives. It has its own office bearers and an active membership.


An election, referendum or survey.


The process of electors recording their votes.

Polling Officials

Staff appointed to work in polling places on polling day. The staff are typically selected by the Commission and appointed through Returning Officers.

Polling Place

A designated location, appointed by the Electoral Commissioner, where electors can vote.

Postal Elections

Local government elections run by the Commission are conducted by post, where all eligible electors receive a package containing ballot papers and information about the election through the post. Completed ballot papers are returned by post with a signed elector’s certificate.

Preferential Voting System

See Voting systems in the Legislative Assembly.

Primary Vote

The primary vote for a candidate is the number of first preferences received on formal ballot papers in a count.

Proportional Representation

See Voting systems in the Legislative Council.

Provisional Enrolment

A seventeen year old may apply for provisional enrolment to enable him or her to vote if they attain the age of 18 years on or before polling day.

Provisional vote

Where an elector, at a polling place, is unable to vote but believes they are entitled to do so, the elector is issued a provisional vote. The elector signs a declaration which is used to determine their eligibility to vote prior to the ballot paper being included in the count.

Reasons for an elector not being unable to vote include not being identified on the roll, having been incorrectly marked off the roll as having already voted, or being subject to objection by a scrutineer.


The statistical and sociological study of elections, including the patterns and trends in voting.

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Under proportional representation, for a candidate to be elected in an electoral region, they must receive enough votes to reach a quota (not an absolute majority).

The quota is calculated using the formula:

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A further count of votes in an election, conducted at the discretion of the Returning Officer. Also, the process used to fill a casual vacancy in the Legislative Council.


The submission of a question to the electors pursuant to an Act but does not include any election under the Electoral Act 1907. For electors, it is very similar to an election, except on a ballot paper electors vote 'yes' or 'no' to one or more questions.


Western Australia is divided into six electoral regions for the purpose of Legislative Council elections, each with six elected members. There are three metropolitan regions and three country regions:

  • East Metropolitan Region
  • North Metropolitan Region
  • South Metropolitan Region
  • Agricultural Region
  • Mining and Pastoral Region
  • South West Region.

Returning Officer

An electoral officer who is appointed by the Electoral Commissioner to be responsible for the conduct of an election in an electoral district or region.

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A person appointed by a candidate to observe the polling and counting procedures on the candidate's behalf during an election.


The process following the close of polling to determine the acceptability of ordinary and declaration votes for the count and the result of the election.

Secret Ballot

A vote made in such a way that no other person will know how the elector has voted.

Silent Elector

A person whose address and/or name details are omitted from the electoral roll for security reasons, as permitted in s. 51B of the Electoral Act 1907.

Special Institution

An institution such as a hospital, nursing home or detention facility, which is gazetted as a special institution and visited by polling officials (through mobile polling) for the purpose of taking votes from patients, residents or inmates. Also known as a declared institution.

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Ticket Vote

A ticket vote is where an elector votes by placing a single '1' for the candidate or group of their choice on the left hand side of the pink Legislative Council ballot paper. Preferences are then distributed according to the voting ticket of the chosen candidate or group.

Two-Candidate Preferred Count

An indicative sort and count of votes following the first preference count of Legislative Assembly ballot papers at polling places on election night. It anticipates the flow of preferences to the two candidates selected as the likely highest first preference vote getters. The ballot papers of other candidates are examined, and each ballot paper is allocated to whichever of the two selected candidates has the lowest preference number opposite their name. 

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An elector's indication of their preferred choice for a representative or candidate as indicated by the completion of a ballot paper.

Voting Ticket

Voting tickets are a statement of a particular order of candidate preferences provided by a Legislative Council group or candidate which is used when an elector chooses to complete a ticket vote on the left hand side of the pink Legislative Council ballot paper.

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A division of a local government district.


The formal orders, issued by the Governor or Speaker of the House, requiring that an election be held.

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