Voting in a State Election

How to mark your ballot papers

When voting at a State general election you will receive two ballot papers – a small one for the Legislative Assembly and a larger one for the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council paper is printed in one of six different colours – depending on which of the six Legislative Council regions applies to your enrolment.

The six colours assigned to each Legislative Council region are as follows:

Colour swatch 2.png

How to Mark Your Legislative Assembly Ballot

On the white Legislative Assembly ballot paper, you must fill in all boxes.

1. Clearly write the number '1' in the box next to the candidate or party of your first choice.

2. Write number '2' in the box next to the candidate or party of your second choice.

3. Continue to number all the boxes until there is a different number in every box in the order of preference.


How to Mark Your Legislative Council Ballot

For the coloured Legislative Council ballot paper you have a choice. You can vote by marking your ballot paper either above the line or below the line.

Either: Above the line

If you choose to vote above the line (a ticket vote), write the number '1' in one of the boxes to vote according to the political party, group, or candidate of your choice. Leave all other boxes blank.

By doing this, your preferences will be distributed according to those of the party, group or candidate you vote for. You can check these preferences by viewing Legislative Council Voting Tickets for your region which will be made available after nominations have closed, or in newspaper advertisements and at all polling places.

Or: Below the line

If you choose to vote below the line (candidate preference vote), fill in all the boxes, in that section of the ballot paper in the order of your choice.

1. Write the number '1' in the box next to the candidate of your first choice.

2. Write number '2' in the box next to the candidate of your second choice.

3. Continue to number all the boxes in the order of your choice until there is a different number in every box. By doing this, your preferences will be distributed exactly as you have chosen.

A ticket vote is formal if only one square is marked with the number '1' or with a tick or a cross. A candidate preference vote is formal when all squares have been marked with consecutive numbers. If both sides have been completed, the candidate preference side is counted, provided it is formal. However, where both sides are completed and one side is informal, the formal side is counted.

Informal votes

Ballot papers are informal if they:

  • are blank
  • do not show preferences according to instructions or legislative requirements
  • do not make the voter's intention clear
  • are marked in a way which identifies the voter.

Informal ballot papers do not contribute to the election of a candidate and are not included in calculating the quota or the absolute majority required for election.

If a ballot paper is not marked correctly but gives a clear indication of the voter's intention as to the order of preferences the ballot paper may be formal. It is the Returning Officer's responsibility to decide whether the elector has sufficiently shown his or her intention, and whether a ballot paper is formal or informal.


Visiting a polling place

Polling places are established in open and public places, often schools and community halls. When you approach the polling place, supporters of candidates or political parties will often be handing out 'How to Vote' cards for their candidates. These cards show the candidate's suggested preferences that support their interests. You do not have to follow or take a How to Vote card into a polling place.

When you arrive at a polling place you should make yourself known to the Queue Controller or an Issuing Officer. They will then direct you where to go based on the type of vote you need to lodge.

Ordinary vote
For electors voting within their district.

Absent vote
For electors voting outside their district. Electors will have to state which district they are enrolled in and sign a declaration (unless a computerised Elector Recording System is in use) before being issued with papers for their district and region.

Provisional vote 
For electors who are not on the roll or have already been marked off, but believe they are entitled to vote, or have had their eligibility to vote questioned by a scrutineer. Electors sign a declaration before receiving their ballot papers, and their eligibility will be verified prior to the ballot papers being included in the count.


Voting process

Upon entering the polling place you will be directed to see an Issuing Officer.

The Issuing Officer will ask you for your full name, your address and if you have voted before in the election.

The Issuing Officer will then:

  • look up your name on the electoral roll
  • mark you off to ensure that you only vote once. If your name cannot be found you will be directed to another polling official regarding a provisional or absent declaration vote
  • issue you two ballot papers, one for your Legislative Assembly district and one for your Legislative Council region.

When casting your vote:

  • proceed alone to a vacant voting screen
  • read the instructions on the ballot paper
  • complete the ballot papers as instructed
  • fold the ballot paper to conceal your vote
  • put each ballot paper separately in the appropriate ballot box.


Seeking assistance

It is the right of every elector to cast their vote in an environment which provides for a secret and independent ballot.

However, you may seek assistance at any time from a polling official. If you do not understand the process, are unable to or have difficulty writing or need any other assistance, ask the polling place manager.