Mayors

The method of election in a Mayoral election is optional preferential.

Election Night Count

On election night, the first preference votes for each candidate and the informal ballot papers will be counted and recorded in each polling place and in the Returning Officer's office (in the case of Pre-poll, Postal and Declared Institution votes).

Check Count

On the Sunday after election day, Mayoral ballot papers are checked and counted again at the Returning Officer’s office to ensure accuracy of the figures from the polling places.

Other vote types (eg: pre poll, postal, DI, enrolment and other special vote categories) are check counted as well.

To be elected in the optional preferential system, a candidate has to receive 50% + 1 of the total formal votes in the count. This is called an 'absolute majority'.

If a candidate has an absolute majority, that candidate is elected and no further counting is necessary.

Distribution of Preferences

The distribution of preferences in a Mayoral election cannot commence before 9.00am on the Tuesday following election day to ensure that all postal votes are included following the deadline for receipt of postal votes at 6.00pm on the Monday following election day.

Where a Mayor is elected by the electors, this result must be determined before counting in the Councillor count can be finalised. Any first preferences on the Councillor ballot paper for the person elected as Mayor are disregarded and any subsequent preferences are reduced by one i.e. a 2nd preference becomes a 1st preference; a 3rd preference becomes a 2nd preference, and so on.

The distribution of preferences in a Mayoral election are conducted in the Returning Officer’s office.

To cast a formal vote, the elector must place the number '1' in the square next to their first choice candidate. They have the 'option' to show further preferences by placing the number '2' in the square next to their second choice candidate, the number '3' next to their third choice and so on. They may number as many or as few squares as they wish.

To be elected in the optional preferential system, a candidate has to receive 50% + 1 of the total formal votes in the count. This is called an 'absolute majority'.

For example - If there are 8,756 formal first preference votes in an election the absolute majority is calculated as: 8,756 ÷ 2 = 4,378 + 1 = 4,379

If a candidate has an absolute majority, that candidate is elected and no further counting is necessary.

If no candidate is elected, the candidate with the least number of votes is 'excluded' which means the excluded candidate's votes are re-sorted to the other candidates according to the 2nd preference shown on each ballot paper.

However, if any of those ballot papers do not have 2nd preferences, those ballot papers are known as 'exhausted' ballot papers and are removed from the count. They are then only used to balance the number of votes at the end of each exclusion, to the number of first preference votes.

The process of exclusions is repeated until such time as a candidate has an absolute majority of the votes remaining in the count and that candidate is elected.

The absolute majority needed to be elected is recalculated after every candidate is excluded. This is due to exhausted ballot papers not continuing in the count.

The process is explained in the following example:

Optional Preferential Count Example
Candidates Count 1 First Preference Votes Distribution of Candidate D Ballot Paper Preference Votes  Count 2 Progressive Totals Distribution of Candidate C Ballot Paper Preference Votes Count 3 Progressive Totals
Candidate A

3,024

250

3,274

822

4,096

Candidate B

2,552

441

2,993

1,189

4,182 Elected

Candidate C

2,290

87

2,377

Excluded

not applicable

Candidate D

890

Excluded

not applicable

not applicable

not applicable

TOTAL FORMAL VOTES

8,756

778

8,644

2,011

8,278

Absolute Majority needed

4,379

not applicable

4,323

nil

4,140

Informals

278

not applicable

278

not applicable

278

Exhausted

not applicable

112

112

366

478

TOTAL VOTES

9,034

890

9,034

2,377

9,034

Recount

Any candidate can request a recount of ballot papers. This request must be in writing to the Returning Officer within 24 hours of being notified of the election result, setting out the reasons for the request and signed by the candidate. A deposit to cover the cost of the recount must also be lodged.

It is also open to the Electoral Commissioner to direct that a recount be undertaken.