State elections

The processes for nominating are largely the same for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. The differences are noted where they occur.

Child-related conduct declaration

All candidates are required to complete a child-related conduct declaration as part of the nomination process.

In 2006, the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act was amended to require all candidates for election to the NSW Parliament, whether to the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council, to declare whether they have been:

  • convicted of the murder of a child or a child sexual offence;
  • the subject of proceedings for such an offence; or
  • the subject of an apprehended violence order for the purposes of protecting a child from sexual assault.

This declaration must be lodged with the nomination form. If a person fails to complete this declaration the nomination will be invalid. The declarations of all candidates must be made public by the NSWEC, and will be posted on the NSWEC’s website.

It is a criminal offence to make a deliberate false declaration (maximum penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment), and if a Member of Parliament is convicted of making a false declaration, he or she will be disqualified from sitting in Parliament pursuant to section 13A of the Constitution Act 1902.

After the election, the declarations of elected candidates will be reviewed by the Commissioner for Children and Young People and a report on the findings tabled in both Houses of Parliament.  Any apparent unlawful conduct by Members of Parliament relating to their declaration will then be referred to police for investigation and prosecution.

Access to the list of electors

Once the nomination process has been completed, candidates at State elections may request the NSWEC to provide a list of electors relevant to the election they are contesting. Legislative Assembly candidates may request a list of electors for the District they are contesting, and Legislative Council may request the State-wide list.

Candidates must use this list only in connection with their candidacy at the election. There are significant penalties for anyone (including candidates) using the electoral roll for a purpose other than in pursuit of their candidature for the election for which the roll has been prepared.

Legislative Assembly

A deposit of $250 is required to be lodged with the NSWEC along with the nomination form. This deposit will be refunded if a candidate:

  • was elected
  • received more than 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes
  • died before the election
  • withdrew their nomination before the close on nominations or
  • had their nomination rejected due to it being incomplete at the close of nominations.

Following the close of nominations, a draw is conducted by the Returning Officer in each of the 93 Districts to determine the order in which candidates’ names will appear on the ballot paper.

Death of a Candidate

If a candidate dies before noon on nomination day, the nomination period is extended by 1 day for that District, but the date of the election does not change.

If a candidate dies after noon on nomination day and before election day, the Legislative Assembly election for that District is deemed to have failed, and an election for that District will be held at a later date. However the Legislative Council election in the District will still proceed.

Uncontested Election

If by the close of nominations, only 1 valid nomination has been accepted for a Legislative Assembly District, the election is uncontested and the nominated candidate will be declared elected. However, the Legislative Council election in the District will still proceed.

Legislative Council

A deposit is also required to be lodged with the NSWEC when nominating for the Legislative Council. The amount of the deposit varies depending on the type of candidature:

  • A single ungrouped candidate = $500
  • A group of up to 10 candidates = $500 per candidate
  • A group of between 11 and 21 candidates = $5,000 (fixed amount)
  • A group of 22 or more candidates = $500 per candidate

This deposit will be returned if the candidate:

  • or one of the candidates in the group to which the candidate belongs, was elected
  • or the group to which they belong received at least 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes
  • died before the election
  • withdrew the nomination before the close of nominations or
  • had their nomination rejected due to it being incomplete at the close of nominations.

Forming a group

Two or more candidates may join together to form a group to contest a Legislative Council election. The group does not have to be connected to a registered political party, but it must be registered with the NSWEC.

If a group has at least 15 candidates, it can request that a group voting square be printed on the ballot paper to be used for ‘above the line’ voting. However in cases where this group is not nominated by a registered political party, its name is not identified ‘above the line’.

The order groups appear on the ballot paper ‘above the line’ is determined by a draw conducted by the Electoral Commissioner, as Returning Officer for the Legislative Council.

Where there are less than 15 candidates in a group, the candidates’ names will only appear ‘below the line’ with the party name or abbreviation. The order of the names of the candidates ‘below the line’ is determined by each group, and will appear on the ballot paper as set out in the group’s nomination application.

Composite Groups

Where 2 or more registered political parties request to form a composite group (eg Liberal/National Party), and there are 15 or more candidates, a request that a group voting square be printed on the ballot paper can also be made.

Ungrouped Candidates

Where a candidate nominates for the Legislative Council election and chooses not to be in a group (an ungrouped candidate), they are shown in a single column on the right-hand side of the ballot paper. These candidates do not qualify for a group voting square ‘above the line’. The order in which the names appear is decided by a draw by the Returning Officer.

Death of a Candidate

If a candidate dies before noon on the day nominations close, the nomination period is extended by 1 day, however the date of the election does not change.

Second Preference Group

Candidates in groups with group voting squares, are required to nominate another group with a group voting square as their Second Preference Group. This is primarily to prevent ballot papers from being informal.

In the event of a group having less than 15 candidates (eg through death or disqualification of a candidate/s), and a voter has only recorded a vote in a group voting square for that group, a second preference is taken as having been made for that group’s nominated Second Preference Group.