Frequently asked voting questions
These questions apply to Legislative Assembly and Local Government elections in the Northern Territory.
When are elections held?
Legislative Assembly elections are held on the fourth Saturday in August every four years.
Local government elections are held on the fourth Saturday in August every four years.
When have previous elections been held?
Results of previous elections can be accessed from the following links:
What is a by-election?
If a Member of the Legislative Assembly resigns or dies, an election is held to determine his/her replacement. A by-election will only be held if the vacancy occurs less than three years and six months after the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly following the previous general election.
Similarly, if a council member resigns or dies, an election is held only to fill the vacancy. A by-election does not have to be held if the vacancy occurs in the 12 months before general elections are due.
What voting system is used?
Legislative Assembly elections use optional preferential vote (OPV) marking and counting.
Local Government elections use Single Transferable Vote Proportional Representation (STVPR)
NOTE: The vote counting system previously used for Local Government elections was exhaustive preferential.
More details can be found from the following links:
What is the Writ for an election?
A Writ is a document issued by the Administrator of the Northern Territory authorising the Electoral Commissioner to conduct an election for the Legislative Assembly and it sets out the dates for the election. The Commissioner is required to give public notice of receipt of the Writ. After the declaration of the election result, the Commissioner endorses the Writ with the names of the candidates returned as elected, and returns the Writ to the Administrator.
In Local Government elections, a ‘notice inviting nominations’ indicates the opening of the election period.
What is the election timetable?
Each election follows a timetable. In Legislative Assembly elections, dates are set by the Writ according to legislation. Local Government election timetables are also determined by legislation (general elections) and by the Electoral Commission (by-elections).
Who must vote in NT Legislative Assembly and Local Government elections?
Voting is compulsory if you are on the electoral roll for the Northern Territory.
Why is voting compulsory?
With the right to enrol and vote comes the responsibility to contribute to the way the Territory is run. Voting is a civic duty comparable to other duties citizens perform, like paying taxes, compulsorily attending school and performing jury duty.
With compulsory voting, governments reflect more accurately the will of the people. Governments must consider the whole electorate when deciding policy formulation and management. Candidates can concentrate their campaigning energies on issues rather than on encouraging voters to attend voting centres.
Remember, your vote and how you mark your ballot paper is secret.
Where do I vote?
Normally you will vote at your local voting centre, generally a school or other community building.
If you are a resident of an aged care or other facility, a hospital patient or a prison inmate (serving a term of less than three years) or live in a remote location, it is likely a team of electoral officials will be scheduled to visit and ensure you have an opportunity to cast a vote.
You may be eligible to vote by post or at an early voting centre if you cannot attend a voting centre on election day.
The location of all early voting centres, election day voting centres and voting times will be advertised in Northern Territory newspapers after the election has been called.
At election time, this website will contain details of early voting centres, election day voting centres, and mobile voting schedules giving details of voting places, dates and times.
What time and date are voting centres open?
Early voting centres are open at advertised times as soon as possible after ballot papers are printed.
Mobile voting locations are open at advertised times beginning 10-12 days before election day. Changes to mobile voting locations and times are only made in extreme circumstances and stakeholders are notified where possible. This website will be updated as and when required.
Election day voting centres are open on between 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.
What happens if I don't vote?
You may be sent a notice asking you to state your reason for apparently failing to vote.
If your reason for not voting is considered not to be valid and sufficient, formal proceedings may be commenced against you.
What is the fine for not voting?
If you fail to vote without a valid and sufficient reason you may be fined.
The prescribed fee for failing to vote is $25 for Legislative Assembly elections. Payment of this amount fully discharges your liability in the matter. If the prescribed fee of $25 is not paid, you could be liable for court action which may result in a fine plus court costs and Victim of Crimes Levy.
In Local Government elections failing to comply with the requirement to vote can incur a $50 infringement notice.
Can I vote on behalf of someone else?
No. Even if you have a Power of Attorney you are not authorised to vote on behalf of another person.
How do I mark the ballot paper so that it will count for the candidate of my choice?
Legislative Assembly elections use Optional Preferential Voting (OPV). The voter must mark a number '1' on the ballot paper next to their most preferred candidate and can then choose whether or not to mark further preferences for some or all of the other candidates.
For Local Government elections the voter must mark all squares on the ballot paper with sequential numbers, starting with ‘1’ in the order of their choice. DO NOT USE CROSSES OR TICKS.
If two or more squares are blank, or a number is repeated or omitted then the ballot paper is informal and will not be counted.
Note: Candidates’ ‘how to vote’ cards may advise you how they want you to mark your ballot paper.
How do I find out the names and affiliations of the candidates?
The NTEC does not have any responsibility to provide information on candidates’ affiliations. However details that may be of assistance may be found:
- on the list of candidates published on this site at the time of an election
- in Northern Territory newspapers
- on the Legislative Assembly ballot paper – registered parties have their names placed next to the endorsed candidate on the ballot paper; independent candidates have no affiliation, and
- in ‘how to vote’ literature provided by campaign workers on election day.
Note: candidate affiliations are not printed on the ballot paper in local government elections.
I have recently changed address from where I was previously enrolled. Where do I vote/what should I do?
If you have updated your address on the electoral roll before the rolls closed for the election you can vote at any voting centre in your enrolled area as an ordinary voter.
If you did not change your details on the electoral roll for the election you will still be on the roll for your old address so you must provide that address when voting.
I will be elsewhere in the Territory on election day, how do I vote?
There are a number of ways you can vote:
- at any voting centre within the NT on election day. If the voting centre is outside your electoral division or council area you will cast an absent vote or
- if you are not able to get to a voting centre on election day, go to an early voting centre and cast an early vote or
- if the above are not appropriate you can apply for a postal vote to be sent to a nominated postal address or
- mobile voting teams visit many remote localities (communities) and the details are available in the mobile voting timetable.
What if I am interstate on election day?
You can either:
- apply for a postal vote or
- cast an early vote at an early voting centre before you go.
For a Legislative Assembly election you may be able to cast an early vote at an interstate State Electoral Office in the week before election day.
What if I am overseas on election day?
There is no provision to allow you to vote in person at an overseas voting centre in an NT election.
You can either:
- apply for a postal vote or
- cast an early vote at an early voting centre before you go.
Where do I get an application for a postal vote?
- complete the application for a postal vote online;
- pick up a copy of the form from any post office or the NTEC or
- telephone or send an email to the NTEC.
Note: different postal vote application forms are used for Legislative Assembly and local government elections. Please check that you select the correct form for the election at which you wish to vote.
When can I apply for a postal vote?
You can apply for a postal vote during the three month period before an election.
What is a registered postal voter, and how do I register as one?
A registered postal voter is a person who is automatically sent ballot papers as soon as practicable when any election is called.
To apply to be a registered postal voter you need to complete an application for registration as a general postal voter.
This form applies to Federal, Legislative Assembly and Local Government elections in the Northern Territory.
Which voting centres have wheelchair access?
The list of voting centres indicates which ones have wheelchair access.
If the voting centre you attend does not have disabled access, the officer in charge will come outside to assist you to vote if you are not well enough, or unable, to stand in the voting centre queue.
I'm pregnant and can't travel, how do I vote?
You can either:
My religion doesn't allow me to vote on Saturday, what do I do?
I am too ill to vote, what do I do?
My relatives are quite elderly and frail, how can they vote?
If they are able to attend a voting centre, the officer in charge will come out and assist them to vote. Otherwise encourage them to apply for a postal vote or they may be eligible to register as registered postal voters.
My relatives have English as a second language and cannot read the ballot paper. How can they vote?
They can use a family member or friend to interpret for them or assist them to vote. The officer in charge of the voting centre or some other person at the voting centre can also assist them to vote.
If your family members want to use a candidate’s ‘how to vote’ card to indicate how they want to vote then they should show this to the person assisting them and this person will mark the ballot paper in the same order as the preferences shown on the card.
How do people in hospitals and nursing homes vote?
Major hospitals, aged care homes and renal units will be visited by a mobile voting team in the week before election day. Details will be available from this site at election time.
How will prisoners be able to vote?
All Northern Territory prisons will be visited by a mobile voting team in the week prior to election day. A mobile voting team will visit each section of the prisons and take the votes of all inmates who are eligible to vote. Details of mobile voting locations and times will be available from this site at the time of an election.
How do people in remote areas vote?
Teams of electoral officials visit remote communities in the 10-12 days before election day to enable eligible electors to cast their vote.
The teams may travel between communities in four wheel drive vehicles, light aircraft or helicopters. They take all election equipment with them to conduct voting at each voting centre, including voting screens, ballot papers, electoral rolls and even in some cases, tables and chairs. Voting may take place in council offices and schools, or on shop verandas or under trees.
Mobile voting centres are selected on the basis of the number of electors enrolled at a community and the proximity to other voting centres. As the number of electors enrolled at these communities may not justify a full day of voting, voting services may be established for a set period of time.
Details will be available from this website at the time of an election.
How are the results of the election determined?
Go to information relating to the steps in the process of counting votes and determining the results.
When are the election results finalised?
The results of a contested election cannot be finalised until after the deadline for the receipt of postal votes after election day.
The Electoral Commissioner publicly declares the result of the election, generally about a week after election day. The declaration is open to the public and media. Many candidates attend and speak at the declaration.