MidCoast Council election

With so many candidates (69 all up) running for one of the 11 seats on the inaugural MidCoast Council and the group system part of the local government ballot paper, there have been many questions about how to vote.

Essentially the vote will work much the same as a Legislative Council election; voters will be asked to make their selections either ‘above the line’ or ‘below the line’.

If you choose to vote above the line (which is essentially voting for groups of candidates not individuals), you need to place the number 1 in the square above the group of candidates for whom you wish to vote.

If you wish to vote for additional groups, continue your numbering above the line in order of your preference.

A number '1' for a group records a first preference vote for the first candidate in the group with preferences going to the other candidates in the group in the order in which they are listed. Preferences then go to the next group, if indicated.

If you choose to vote below the line, you need to vote for at least six candidates in order of your preference, numbering 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the squares opposite the names of candidates. You can vote for more than six candidates and to do so, continue numbering.

You should note that when you vote ‘above the line’ you are voting for that group of candidates. If you want to vote for individual candidates, including any ungrouped candidates, you vote ‘below the line’.

Counting votes

Under the proportional representation system, candidates are elected in proportion to the number of votes they receive. This method is used local government elections where there are two or more vacancies in a council area.  

The proportion of seats won by each group or party should equal the proportion of votes cast for those groups or parties. For example, if a party wins 40% of the votes, it should win about 40% of the seats and if a party gets 10% of the votes it should gain 10% of the seats.

Click here for a video about how votes are counted in the proportional representation method

What do the candidates preferences mean?

To be elected a candidate generally must gain a quota of the formal votes. The quota cannot be worked out until the total number of formal first preference votes is known. Once the first preference count has taken place and informal ballot papers are removed the quota is calculated:

Quota = (total number of formal votes ÷ one more than the number of vacancies) + 1

For example, if there are 12,000 formal votes and 5 vacancies to be filled, the quota is:

12,000 formal votes ÷ 6 = 2000 + 1 = 2001.

Therefore, in this example, a candidate needs at least 2001 votes to get elected.

The count is conducted by distributing votes according to the choices shown on the ballot paper. When candidates reach a quota and are elected, their surplus or extra votes above the quota are distributed to the remaining candidates.

Candidates with the lowest number of votes are then excluded and their ballot papers are redistributed according to the next choice shown. This process continues until all the vacancies are filled.

Candidates can also be elected if the remaining number of candidates in the count equals the number of vacant positions still to be filled.

This story MidCoast Council election: Make your vote count first appeared on Manning River Times.