You vote at State elections for people to represent you in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.
Under the Constitution Act 1902 a State election is held in New South Wales on the last Saturday in March every 4 years. Only if the Governor dissolves the Parliament can a State election be held before the year term is complete.
By-elections are conducted periodically when a vacancy in the Legislative Assembly occurs.
State elections are conducted by the NSW Electoral Commission.
It is compulsory to vote in an election if you are on the electoral roll. Each elector votes for one candidate to represent his/her electoral district in the Legislative Assembly, and for all the candidates they wish to represent the state in the Legislative Council.
The rules for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council are contained in the Constitution Act 1902 and the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912.
Legislative Assembly - Lower House
In the Legislative Assembly one Member represents a single electoral district for a term of 4 years.
There are currently 93 electoral districts in New South Wales, with the boundaries drawn in such a way as to ensure that approximately the same number of voters is present in each. To keep in line with changes in population, the boundaries of electoral districts are changed from time to time according to processes outlined in the Constitution Act 1902 and the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912.
The optional preferential voting system is used, which means that voters are required to rank candidates in order of preference, but need only indicate at least 1 single preference for their vote to count.
Legislative Council - Upper House
Legislative Council Members represent the state as a whole rather than particular electoral districts, and are elected for a term of 8 years.
There are 42 members in the Legislative Council, with 21 elected at each Election.
The proportional representation voting system is used, which aims to allocate seats in the Legislative Council in proportion to the votes cast, once a certain quota has been reached.
Calling an Election
A State election is held following the issue of the Writs by the Governor (or the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in the case of a State by-election), which direct the NSW Electoral Commissioner to conduct the election according to the procedure set down in the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912.
The Governor issues Writs on the advice of the government.
Writs for a general election of members of the Legislative Assembly must be issued within 4 days after:
- the proclamation dissolving the Assembly has been published in the Government Gazette
- the date of the expiration of the Assembly, that is, on the completion of the 4 year term.
The Writ for a periodic Legislative Council election cannot be issued until after the issue of the Writs for the Legislative Assembly. Both elections must be on the same day.
The Writs contain the date:
- by which nominations must be made
- of the election
- by which the Writs must be returned.
The Electoral Commissioner is required to give public notice of the information contained in the Writs.
Following the election the Writs must be returned to the Governor within 60 days after their date of issue, unless directed to be later, by the Governor by a notice in the Government Gazette.
The Electoral Commissioner is required to certify on the Writs, the name of the elected candidate for each Legislative Assembly district, and the names of the elected candidates for the Legislative Council.
The issue and return of the Writs represent the official beginning and end of the election.
Legislative Assembly Writ
A Writ is issued for each of the electoral districts in NSW. One member from each district is elected to the Legislative Assembly.
Legislative Council Writ
A single Writ is issued for the Legislative Council election. Members of the Legislative Council represent the state as a whole.