Counting referendums and polls

Note: The description of how the following count is done is simplified and quite general.

Counts for Referendums and Polls are finalised after all Mayoral and Councillor counts have been completed.

Referendum and Poll counts are conducted in the Polling Place and in the Returning Officer’s office.

This system of vote counting is only used in relation to polls and referendums in NSW. The voters are asked to indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a particular question, whether at a federal, state or local government level.

The referendum or poll is won by whichever side of the debate receives the most votes.

Under the Local Government Act 1993 there are certain matters which need to be determined by a referendum, others can be dealt with by way of a poll.

Those matters which must be dealt with at a referendum are to:

  • Determine whether or not the mayor is to be popularly elected;
  • Increase or reduce the number of councillors;
  • Divide the council area into wards or abolish all wards; and
  • Change the method of ordinary election of councillors, for an area divided into wards.

Voting on a referendum issue is compulsory, the result is binding on the council and is put in place at the following election.

A poll may be held at the same time as a Local Government election on any issue. This is usually done to test whether people support or oppose a proposed action on an issue. For example, a poll conducted by the Wingecarribee Shire Council at the Local Government elections in 2008 asked electors to indicate whether they approved of Council building the Leisure Centre.

Voting on a poll issue is not compulsory and the result is not binding on the council.