All Council elections are held every four years and the election process is undertaken by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).
Council election process
The conduct of Council elections is regulated by the Local Government Act 2020 and the Local Government (Electoral) Regulations 2020. The day-to-day management of the election process is undertaken by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).
When are Council elections held?
All Council elections are held every four years on the fourth Saturday in October. Victorian State and Local Government election dates are both fixed term but are scheduled to occur two years apart from each other. The next Council election will be held on 26 October 2024.
Who runs Council elections?
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is the statutory provider for all Council elections. The elections manager will be the Electoral Commissioner or his or her appointee.
To be eligible to vote at a Council election, people must be on the State or Council voters’ roll 57 days before election day. This is called the ‘entitlement date’.
Close of nominations
Candidates must submit their nominations in person to the elections manager before the close of nominations. Nominations close 32 days before the election day.
Close of voting
Darebin City Council elections are undertaken by postal voting. In postal elections, ballot papers must be completed and posted to the Elections Manager no later than the last working day before election day.
Key election dates are publicised in the lead-up to an election, enabling people to participate fully in the process.
How votes are counted
Two methods of counting votes are used in Council elections, depending on whether or not the election is for a single-member ward. As Darebin City Council has recently changed to nine (9) single member wards, the method of counting votes will be the Preferential Voting system.
This is similar to the system of vote counting used for single member electorates in the State Legislative Assembly and the Federal House of Representatives.
- All valid first preference votes are counted and sorted to determine the number of first preferences for each candidate.
- Where one candidate has an absolute majority (50% plus one of all valid votes) that candidate is declared elected.
- If no candidate has an absolute majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are re-allocated according to their second preferences.
- This process is repeated until one candidate obtains an absolute majority and is declared elected.
The Victorian Electoral Commission has more information about counting of votes.
Declaration of election results
The elections manager publicly declares results after the votes have been counted and scrutineers have had time to examine the record of the count. The declaration of the election may be delayed if the elections manager decides to conduct a recount.
Election period and 'caretaker' arrangements
The ‘election period’ is defined in the Local Government Act 2020 as the period between the last day of nominations and the election day. This is a 32-day period in Victorian Local Government elections. The aim is to avoid the use of public resources in a way that may unduly affect the election result and to minimise Councils making certain types of decisions that may unduly limit the decision-making ability of the incoming Council.
Darebin City Council may not make the following types of decisions, either directly or by delegation, during an election period:
- Decisions relating to the employment or remuneration of the Chief Executive Officer, other than a decision to appoint an acting CEO, or a decision to terminate the appointment of the CEO.
- Commit the Council to expenditure exceeding one percent of the Council’s income from general rates, municipal charges and service rates and charges in the preceding financial year; or
- Matters the Council considers could be reasonably deferred until the next Council is in place; or
- Matters the Council considers should not be made during an election period.
An exception can apply if Darebin City Council seeks and obtains an exemption from the Minister for Local Government.
Councils may voluntarily place additional limits on their decision making during an election period to ensure they are not unduly committing an incoming Council. These limits are often described in the Council’s Election Period policy. Council’s Election Period policy forms part of Council’s recently adopted Governance Rules.
Publication of electoral matter
The Local Government Act 2020 prohibits Councils from printing, publishing and distributing material that is electoral matter during an election period. Electoral matter is broadly defined as ‘matter that is intended or likely to affect voting in an election’. This limitation does not apply to electoral material that is only about the election process.
Darebin City Council’s Election Period policy states that the Chief Executive Officer (or delegate) must certify all Council publications during the election period to ensure they do not contain electoral matter.
Documents published before the election period commences (but still available after commencement, for example on the Council’s website) do not require certification and are not caught by the prohibition. Statutory documents permitted under legislation (such as rate notices, food premises registrations and parking fines) may continue to be disseminated by Council during the election period without limitation.
Council has adopted an ‘Electoral Advertising Signage and Electioneering Policy’ to provide direction on the placement of electoral advertising signs on any Council land, municipal building or road; and the requirements for candidates or their supporters electioneering in public places.
Find out more about the Electoral Advertising Signage and Electioneering Policy.
Changes to ward structure
From the 2020 Council elections onwards, Darebin City Council will be divided into nine single councillor wards.
From the 2020 Council elections onwards, Darebin City Council has been divided into nine single councillor wards. At the Council elections in October 2020 and future Council elections, you will be voting according to the new structure so you will be voting to elect one person only to represent your ward.
For details on the new ward structure visit the Victorian Electoral Commission website.
Election campaign donation returns
The Local Government Act 2020, Section 308(2) states that the Chief Executive Officer must ensure that a summary of an election campaign donation return must be made available on the Council's website until the close of the roll for the next general election.
Find out more about our Election Campaign Donation Returns.