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Organisation : Victorian Electoral Commission
Facility : How does voting work?
Country : Australia
Territory : Victoria

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How does voting work? :
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How does voting work? :
This information is about the voting system used in Victoria for State and local council elections.

For information about voting and counting systems used in Federal elections visit the Australian Electoral Commission (external link).

The preferential voting system :
Victorian State and local council elections use versions of the preferential voting system. This involves numbering candidates in the order of your preference.

When you are required to number every candidate in order of your preference, the system in use is full preferential voting. Full preferential voting is used in most elections in Victoria.

In some cases you may not need to number every box on the ballot paper This is called optional preferential voting and it is used for the Upper House at State elections.

Formal and informal votes :
A formal vote is a correctly completed ballot paper. It is the formal votes that are counted to determine the result.

An informal vote is a ballot paper that has not been completed following the rules for the election. Informal votes are sometimes also known as invalid votes. They cannot be used to determine the election result.

Common causes of informality include :
** Using ticks or crosses where the voter is required to number preferences
** Failing to number the required number of boxes or
** Incorrectly numbering preferences (such as missing or repeating preference numbers).

Whenever you are casting your vote in an election, always follow the instructions on the ballot paper to ensure your vote is formal and can be counted.

What if there aren’t enough candidates? :
For State and local council elections, if the number of candidates is the same as the number of vacancies to be filled, those candidates are elected without electors needing to vote. This is called being elected unopposed.

If nobody nominates for an election the election fails, no voting takes place and another election is held as soon as possible.

For local council elections, if there are less candidates than the number of vacancies, the candidates are declared elected and a by-election is held to fill the remaining vacancies.

Do I have to vote? :
Voting is compulsory. If you are enrolled to vote, then you must vote in all Federal, State and local council elections, statutory elections and polls.

However, if a person is no longer capable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolling and voting, they may be removed from the roll. Their doctor will be required to provide formal advice by completing an elector no longer capable form (PDF, 495kB).

The VEC is obliged to send notices to enrolled Victorians who appear not to have voted. If you fail to vote without an adequate reason, you may be fined.

Are there age limits for voting? :
You must be at least 18 years of age to vote in Australia.

There is no upper age limit to voting in Victoria. If you are aged 70 or over you are excused from voting in council elections. However, you will still be provided with a ballot pack and are welcome to vote.

Do I have to vote if I’m renting? :
If you are enrolled, you must vote in each Federal, State and local council election, statutory election or poll that is relevant to your enrolled address, even if you do not own the property.

Why vote? :
Australia is a representative democracy. We elect representatives to make decisions on our behalf. Each of our three levels of government; Federal, State and local council has different responsibilities.

It is the right and the responsibility of everyone on the electoral roll to vote. This ensures that our elected representatives are genuinely those preferred by the majority of the electorate.

Federal Government :
The Federal Government makes decisions about issues that affect all Australians.
Its responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
** the national economy
** defence
** foreign policy
** immigration
** social services including pensions and family support
** trade and commerce
** post-secondary education
** Medicare and health funding.

State Government :
The State Government makes decisions about issues that specifically affect Victorians.
Its responsibilities include, but are not limited to :
** hospitals and health services
** drugs and crime prevention
** education and training
** family and community development
** transport and road safety
** rural and regional service development.

Local councils :
Local councils make decisions on a range of local issues.
Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to :
** maternal and child health care centres
** child care
** meals on wheels and home help
** sporting facilities and recreation reserves
** libraries and community centres
** animal registrations
** rubbish and recycling collection
** town planning and building regulations
** local roads and footpaths.

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