Vote counting at Legislative Assembly elections

Vote counting

Immediately after the close of voting (6:00 pm) on election day, there will be:

  • a count of 1st preference votes at each voting centre, and
  • a count of 1st preference votes for early and postal votes at the NTEC offices.

A notional two candidate preferred count will be conducted to find the last two candidates likely to be remaining in the count.

Scrutinies after election night

A recheck of votes from voting centres is undertaken during the week after election day, followed by a count of declaration, absent and further postal votes.

Electors voting by post have until 12:00 noon on the second Friday after election day to return their postal ballot papers. Preferences are not usually distributed before the cut off for the return of postal ballot papers.

Distribution of preferences

At the distribution of preferences, any candidate who obtains more than 50% of the formal 1st preference votes is elected.

If no candidate obtains 50% + 1 of the formal votes:

  • the candidate with the least number of formal votes is ‘excluded‘ and that candidate's ballot papers are re-sorted to the other candidates according to the 2nd preference shown on each ballot paper
  • if a ballot paper fails to show a preference for a continuing candidate, the ballot paper is 'exhausted' and removed from the count. The majority required for election must then be recalculated minus any exhausted ballot papers.

The process of exclusions is repeated until one candidate gains more than half of the formal votes remaining in the count and is elected.

Declaration of the election results

A declaration of the election results is made as soon as practicable after the results have been determined.


At any time before the result of the election is declared, a candidate may ask the Commission for a recount to be conducted. The initiating candidate must state the reasons for the request, which may or may not proceed.

The Electoral Commissioner may also initiate a recount on his/her own volition. ➔ Recount policy

Disputed elections

The validity of an election may be disputed by petition addressed to the Court of Disputed Returns.