NSW Votes: Your Guide to Election Day - Hope 103.2

NSW Votes: Your Guide to Election Day

With the state election drawing close, here’s an easy guide to how, where and when to vote (the “who” is up to you).

By Mike CrooksFriday 10 Mar 2023NewsReading Time: 3 minutes

Start sizzling those snags, the NSW state election is less than three weeks away.

NSW residents head to the polls on Saturday March 25 to decide who will lead the state for the next four years.

Currently, the Coalition of the Liberals and Nationals hold power under Premier Dominic Perrottet, a lawyer and father of seven.

The Coalition has been in power for 12 years since 2011 (under Premiers Barry O’Farrell, Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian, who resigned last year).

Contesting for the NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party is father-of-three Chris Minns, a former firefighter and government advisor.

If successful, Minns, 43, will be the first Labor Premier since Kristina Keneally.

How to vote

At this election, there are two ballot papers to complete: one small, one (very) big.

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The small paper is for the Legislative Assembly or Lower House. This is the vote that determines which party will form government, and who will be Premier.

The bigger paper (nearly the size of a tablecloth) is for the Legislative Council or Upper House.

Lower House

NSW is divided into 93 electorates, and voters select a member to represent them in the Lower House for a four-year term.

NSW residents vote for the Lower House candidate in their district.

To do this, voters must write the number 1 in the box next to their preferred candidate.

Should voters wish to do so, they can include more choices by writing the numbers 2, 3, 4 etc. next to other candidates, in the order of their preference.

Upper House

Voters elect half of the Upper House for an eight-year term (the other half is chosen at the next election).

The ballot paper has two sections divided by a thick line near the top. Voters must decide to vote either “above the line” or “below the line”.

Above the line has group voting squares. Below the line has all the candidates for each group, plus the independent candidates.

If voting above the line (the easy option), voters are required to write the number 1 in the group voting square of their choice. This means voters are choosing every candidate in the column of that party (in that order). Again, voters can also cast further preferences by writing 2, 3, 4 etc., alongside other groups, in the order of their preference.

If voting below the line (settle in, this will take a while), voters choose individual candidates – from any party. They must choose at least 15 candidates in the order of their preference, beginning with their number 1 choice.

(Note: Whatever side of the line you choose to go with, do not write anything on the other side of the line.)

Parties

Though Australia has a two-party preferred system (Labor and the Coalition), there are more parties to choose from when casting a vote.

They include the Animal Justice party, the Legalise Cannabis party, One Nation, the Greens and more.

At present in the NSW Government, there are three elected Greens party members and nine independents.

Early birds

If your circumstances mean you won’t be able to rock up to a voting centre on March 25, you may be eligible for a postal vote.

Postal vote applications opened on January 16, and close on the Monday before the election weekend.

To apply, visit here.

Further, the early voting period (at selected polling booths) commences on March 18 and closes on March 24, the Friday before the Saturday election.

Polling booths

But if you want that sausage or cupcake (or both), head to a polling booth on March 25.

To find out where your closest polling centre is, visit here to search for your electorate and centres to vote (it comes with a handy map).

Compulsory voting

Be warned: all voting is compulsory in Australia.

If you are over 18 and a resident of NSW, you must be enrolled to vote, and penalties apply if you do not vote.

If you do not vote, and do not have a valid reason for not voting, the penalty is a $55 fine.

If you receive a fine, you must respond within 28 days if you have a valid reason for not exercising your democratic right. Valid reasons include being sick (particularly with Covid-19).

So enjoy your day of democracy (and snag) and for more information, visit here.