Counting the vote

Important notice

This updated information applies to all elections where the election process starts on or after 1 September 2020.

What are the duties of a scrutineer?

Any candidate may appoint another person to act as a scrutineer. The returning officer does not appoint scrutineers. The board does not appoint scrutineers. 

A candidate who wants to have a scrutineer at the vote count must advise you, in writing, before election day.

A scrutineer is entitled to be present and observe you as you perform your role of examining voting papers and counting the votes.

If there is a tie involving a candidate represented by a scrutineer, the scrutineer is entitled to be present while you break the tie by lot.

Remember that scrutineers only observe the process. They do not participate, comment, or criticise.

Where two or more candidates receive the same number of valid votes, how do I decide which of them is elected?

You only need to address this if there is one place left to be filled and two or more candidates have the same number of votes. If there are five vacancies and the tie is for first place, don’t do anything - just publish the results.

If there are five vacancies and there are four candidates clearly elected, but the next two are tied, then you have to decide which one is elected and which one is not.

A tied vote result is decided by lot. You can choose any of the standard methods such as tossing a coin, drawing straws or cutting a pack of cards. Do this in the presence of the affected candidates’ scrutineers (if any) and two current board members. If two members of the board are not available within a reasonable time you can ask two staff members to assume the responsibility.

NOTE: The principal and staff representative are board members.


Counting votes

When can I start?

  • Before you start counting set up a simple system to count and record votes.
  • You must not start counting the votes until the date specified on the Election planner tool. The RO running staff or student election can count the votes anytime after the poll closes until the date specified.

Where can I count?

  • You can count the votes wherever you choose but it must be in a place accessible to any appointed scrutineers.
  • Choose a place that offers peace and quiet and minimum distractions. If there are a large number of votes cast, it may be best to book a place such as the school hall for a whole day.

Who can be present while I count?

  • While counting votes, any scrutineers should be present, but don’t wait for them if they don’t turn up at the agreed time and place.
  • If you have an assistant, remember they are there only to help, any decisions regarding the election process, such as classifying votes as valid or invalid, must be made by you.
  • Only people you’ve authorised are to be present during counting. Keep disruptions to a minimum.

Do I need someone to check my vote counting?

  • It is not a requirement to have someone check your counting. The decision rests solely with you as the returning officer.

What are the new rules about validity of voting papers

These are the only changes to the validity rules:

  • voting papers may be placed in an envelope (but they no longer have to be in the envelope included when the voting papers were issued)
  • voting papers can now be received before 4pm on voting day or if they are received by post no later than 5 days after the election date

Note: The following rules about validity of voting papers are unchanged.

What if a voter votes more than once in the election?

The voting paper is invalid.

What if a voter votes for more candidates than there are vacancies?

The voting paper is invalid. 

What if a voting paper does not clearly show which candidate/s the voter is voting for?

The voting paper is invalid if it does not, in the opinion of the returning officer, clearly indicate the candidate or candidates for whom the voter intended to vote.

What if the returning officer thinks they did not issue the voting paper to the voter?

The voting paper is invalid if the returning officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that they did not issue the voting paper to the voter.

What if a voter votes for fewer candidates than there are vacancies?

The voting paper is valid.

What if the voting paper is not contained in the envelope included with the voting paper when it was issued?

The voting paper is valid.

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