Following the election on Saturday, readers may be wondering when the results will be announced and successful candidates awarded seats in the Legislative Council.
To gain a seat in the Council, candidates must attain a quota of the votes. This number is calculated using a formula which divides the number of ‘formal’ (eligible) ballot papers submitted by the number of vacant seats and adds 1. The quota for the 2015 election was calculated to be 196,205 votes, or 4.55% of the votes.
To expedite the lengthy process of counting the votes, the NSW Electoral Commission completes two stages of counting. The initial first preference count includes ballot papers marked above the line for these seven groups only:
- Animal Justice Party
- Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
- Labor/Country Labor
- Liberal/The Nationals
- Pauline Hanson’s One Nation
- Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
- The Greens
Some candidates will reach the quota and win a seat via the first preference count. Others will have to wait until all the votes are counted and the preferences distributed.
On election day, all ballot papers marked above the line for groups other than the seven specified, and all ballot papers marked below the line are placed in the ‘other’ pile, and are subject to the ‘check count’, a secondary process by which all the data is entered over approximately three weeks into an electronic system managed by the Electoral Commission.
Results are announced progressively and made available on the ‘virtual tally room’ on the Electoral Commission in the weeks after the election. As the ‘check count’ approaches conclusion, the race for the final seats can really heat up.
At time of publication on Thursday 28 March the progressive count indicates that 16 of the 21 seats have been decided. It appears that there will be at least six Government members, six Opposition members, two Greens members, a Shooters Fishers and Farmers member and a One Nation member elected.
The last leg of the race is the distribution of preferences, initiated by the Electoral Commission pressing a button in the electronic system. It is anticipated that all of the data will be entered in time to press the button on Friday 12th April. Candidates, media and any interested parties can attend and watch live as candidates cross the finish line to win the last remaining seats in the Legislative Council.