Local Government Elections
Bulletin 1 2017
The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has developed
the elections bulletins to keep local governments and the community informed of requirements for the upcoming local government elections. More information about the elections is available on the department's website.
A printer friendly version of the elections timetable for 2017 is available on the department's website via the Local Government Elections menu, found under Advice + Support. An updated version of the returning officer manual for voting in person elections is also available on the elections page.
Engaging the WA Electoral Commission to conduct elections
Section 4.20(4) of the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act) enables local governments to declare the Western Australian Electoral Commissioner (WAEC) responsible for conducting their elections.
Written agreement from the Electoral Commissioner followed by an absolute majority decision by council before declaring the Electoral Commissioner responsible is required by 2 August 2017.
Once the Electoral Commissioner has been engaged by a local government for this purpose, the council cannot rescind or change that decision following 2 August.
(See sections 4.20(4), (5) and (6) of the Act.)
More information on this process is available from Mr Phil Richards at the Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) on 9214 0443 or email@example.com.
Update of Owners and Occupiers Roll
One of the first election tasks for any local government, regardless of whether the WAEC will be conducting its elections, is to check its owners and occupiers roll to ensure that information recorded from enrolment eligibility claim forms is kept up to date in accordance with section 4.34 of the Act.
Resident home owners, and occupiers of leased residential properties, will already appear on the residents roll provided to your local government by the WAEC (assuming they are correctly enrolled on the State Electoral Roll). Under section 4.40(1), the last day for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to advise the Electoral Commissioner of the need to prepare a residents roll is 26 August 2017.
Local governments may wish to consider placing some enrolment forms along with a reminder notice about the upcoming elections in public places like administration offices and libraries to encourage the enrolment of residents who have recently moved into your local government district or who need to update their details. Forms are available from either the Australian Electoral Commission or the WAEC.
Enrolment details for non-resident owners and occupiers will need to be updated
for preparation of the owners and occupiers roll between 1 September and 15 September 2017. The last day for the Electoral Commissioner to forward a copy of the residents roll to the CEO is 15 September.
(See sections 4.40 and 4.41 of the Act.)
The enrolment eligibility claims of non-resident owners of rateable property expire when the claimants no longer own the relevant property. The expiry dates for claims made by non-resident occupiers of rateable property depend on when the claims were accepted.
(See sections 4.33(1), 4.33(2A) and 4.33(2B) of the Act.)
Reminders on advertising for elector enrolments and the updating of rolls will be included in future elections bulletins. The focus at the moment is ensuring information in the owners and occupiers roll is updated.
The department suggests taking the following steps in preparation for updating the roll.
(1) Check owners in the owners and occupiers roll against the local government's rates records if they, or the body corporate which nominated them are:
- no longer on the rates record. In which case they will need to be removed from the roll when it is updated, and the expiry date recorded in the register
- still on the rates record but not for the same property. Therefore, they should be sent an enrolment eligibility claim form (Form 2 of the Local Government (Elections) Regulations 1997), with a letter advising of the need to claim eligibility for the new property by lodging a completed claim form with your local government no later than 5.00pm on 1 September 2017, the 50th day before the elections
- still on the rates record for the same property. In which case they can retain their current eligibility on the register.
(2) Check all occupiers in the owners and occupiers roll against the expiry date of their claim as recorded in the register.
The expiry date for occupiers is generally two ordinary elections plus six months from when their enrolment claim was accepted. Therefore if it was accepted prior to the close of rolls for the 2013 ordinary elections (30 August 2013), that claim will have expired.
(See section 4.33(2A).)
- If the expiry date has passed, send them, or the body corporate which nominated them, an enrolment eligibility claim form with a letter reminding them that the existing claim has expired. Advise them of the need to complete a new claim form if they wish to continue on the roll. Include a reminder that any enrolment eligibility claim must be lodged with the local government no later than 5.00pm on 1 September 2017.
- If the expiry date has not passed, retain their current eligibility on the roll.
If following the above steps, it would be useful to keep a record of all letters sent to potential electors. This will ensure responses can be checked when enrolments close at the end of August. A reminder to do this will be included in a later bulletin.
It is also recommended to place an advertisement in an appropriate newspaper to remind people of their potential eligibility as non-resident owners or occupiers.
In addition, it may be helpful to inform anyone who is contacted about the roll that it relates to local government elections only, and they need to check their enrolment for State or Federal elections separately.
Advertising for enrolments
As part of the update of electoral rolls, local government Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are required to arrange Statewide public notice of the closure of the rolls. This notice must be published between 12 August and 26 August 2017 in accordance with the Local Government Act 1995. Rolls close at 5.00pm on 1 September 2017.
(See section 4.39(2) of the Act.)
The Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) arranges the Statewide notice for any local governments whose elections it is conducting. Local governments conducting their own elections can access the joint advertising program available from the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA).
Many local governments may also wish to advertise in local newspapers, or place additional notices in public places such as community centres or recreational facilities.
Any notices should remind both resident home owners, and occupiers of leased residential properties, that they will automatically be included on the local government's residents roll as long as their details on the State electoral roll are updated. Details of enrolment status can be checked with the WAEC before 1 September.
Non-resident owners and occupiers of rateable property should be reminded to check if they, or their nominees, have a current enrolment eligibility claim in place for the local government's owners and occupiers roll, and if not, to lodge an updated claim form with their local government (Form 2 of the Local Government (Elections) Regulations 1997).
A template advertisement which details the possible eligibility requirements is included in the department's returning officer manual for voting in person elections, available from the department's website.
In addition to being the last day to advertise for enrolments, 26 August 2017 is the last day for the local government's CEO to advise the Electoral Commissioner of the need to prepare the updated residents roll.
(See section 4.40(1) of the Act.)
Once the local government has assessed any enrolment eligibility claims from non-resident owners and occupiers, these will need to be included in an updated owners and occupiers roll by 15 September 2017.
This is also the last day for the Electoral Commissioner to forward the residents roll to the CEO.
(See sections 4.40(2) and 4.41(1) of the Act.)
Candidate information sessions
Your local government may now be planning information sessions for prospective election candidates, in preparation for the nomination period from 7 September to
14 September 2017.
The department is preparing to distribute information to local governments to assist CEOs and returning officers in conducting candidate information sessions within
This will include a guide to conducting a session, suggested promotional materials and directions to useful resources available from the department's website, including a PowerPoint presentation containing important information for prospective candidates.
All materials will also be made available on the department's website in the elections section. A reminder on advertising for nominations in late August will be included in a future elections bulletin.
Elections 'caretaker' periods
Has your local government considered adopting a policy to cover the 'caretaker' period prior to local government elections?
Caretaker policies are adopted by some local governments in the lead up to the elections. This can ensure there is more transparency around major decisions being made by council in the lead up to the elections.
The policy could cover:
- decisions made by the council
- materials published by the local government
- attendance and participation in functions and events
- use of the local government's resources
- access to local government information.
Caretaker period policies are well worth considering, and can help to protect both the reputation of a local government's administration and its elected members.
Bulletin 2 2017
The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has developed
the elections bulletins to keep local governments informed of requirements for the upcoming local government elections. More information about the elections is available on the department's website at: www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au.
Elections timetable and support materials
A reminder that a printer friendly version of the elections timetable for 2017 is available on the department's website, along with an updated version of the returning officer manual for voting in person elections. The returning officer manual contains a detailed schedule and checklist for elections preparations.
The nomination period for prospective election candidates begins on
Thursday 7 September 2017, and closes on Thursday 14 September 2017 at 4.00pm.
Under section 4.47 of the Local Government Act 1995 (the Act), advertising for nominations can begin from Saturday 26 August, but must be no later than
Wednesday 6 September 2017.
For local governments who have engaged the Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) to conduct their elections, advertising will be organised in The West Australian newspaper during this period by WAEC.
Similar arrangements will be made by the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) for local governments conducting their own elections and participating in WALGA's joint advertising scheme.
Public notice requirements also include the need for notices to be placed on local government notice boards, offices and in public libraries for a minimum of seven days. It is recommended that display of these notices continues to the end of the nomination period on 14 September.
(See section 4.47 of the Act, and sections 1.7 and 1.8 for the definition of public notice.)
Preparation for the nomination period
When the nomination period commences, local governments should be ready to provide prospective candidates with nomination materials and information to assist them with
the process. For local governments conducting their own elections, it will be useful to have prepared nomination packs in a place where staff can easily access them.
The following materials are recommended for inclusion in the packs:
- An information sheet covering nomination procedures and other important election processes and requirements
- nomination forms - Forms 8 and 9 of the Local Government (Elections) Regulations 1997
- the electoral gift disclosure form - Form 9A of the Local Government (Elections) Regulations 1997)
- local government elections fact sheets for people standing for council – found on the department's website
- ward or district maps, if appropriate
- information on any policies or local laws relevant to election activities; such as the use of election signs
- any other information considered useful; such as the council's code of conduct.
A template information sheet for nominees is included in chapter 7 of the returning officer manual for voting in person elections, available from the elections publications section of the department's website.
Preparations also need to be made for drawing the names of candidates for ballot paper positions at the end of the nomination period and providing candidates with adequate information. This includes information on polling places, the location for counting of votes, processes for checking absent and postal votes, as well as processes for counting votes on election day.
Chapter 7 of the returning officer manual includes a flowchart on the process for drawing names for ballot papers, and a template information sheet for candidates, which includes legislative provisions regarding electoral offences.
Updated electoral rolls will need to be provided to candidates in accordance with section 4.42(2) of the Act. They can also be given copies of the application for postal voting papers (Form 12 of the Elections Regulations) to distribute to electors who may want that option.
Preparations should include provision of the department's guide for scrutineers, which is included as an attachment to the returning officer manual, and scrutineer appointment forms (Form 18 of the Elections Regulations).
Preparation of electoral rolls
The first elections bulletin covered the need for the enrolment details of electors in the local government's owners and occupiers register to be updated for the preparation of electoral rolls between 1 September and 15 September 2017.
As noted in that bulletin, resident home owners and occupiers of leased residential properties will appear on the residents roll requested from the WA Electoral Commissioner by the chief executive officer (CEO) under section 4.40(1) of the Act. Following the close of enrolments on 1 September, the WA Electoral Commissioner will prepare this roll and forward a copy to the CEO by 15 September.
(See section 4.40(2) of the Act.)
This leaves only the owners and occupiers roll to be prepared.
Once the local government has assessed any enrolment eligibility claims from
non-resident owners or occupiers of rateable property which were lodged by 1 September, the successful applicants will need to be included on that roll.
(See section 4.41(1) of the Act.)
At this point, it may be necessary to check for claims made in response to any letters sent from the local government to electors on the previous owners and occupiers roll who were:
- owners of rateable property, including body corporates, identified as being on the rates record, but not for the property on which they based their earlier enrolment eligibility claim; or
- occupiers of rateable property, including body corporates, whose earlier eligibility claim was identified as having expired under sections 4.33(2A) or 4.33(2B) of
These claims should be assessed along with any others which were lodged by 1 September, and all decisions to accept or reject them recorded in the owners and occupiers register.
(See section 4.32(6) of the Act.)
Any owners of rateable property who were sent letters and did not respond with a valid claim, or their nominees, will need to be excluded from the new roll. Where owners on the previous roll have been identified as no longer being on the rates record, their names, or those of their nominees, will also need to be excluded from the new roll.
The dates of any such decisions should be recorded in the register as the expiry dates of their eligibility.
Any occupiers of rateable property who were sent letters and did not respond with
a valid claim, or their nominees, will also need to be excluded from the new roll.
Their expiry date will already be recorded in the register, having been determined by either section 4.33(2A) or 4.33(2B) of the Act.
All owners and occupiers who lodged a valid claim by 1 September, whether on the previous roll or not, should have their names, or their nominees, added to the new roll.
The expiry date for occupiers or their nominees should be recorded or updated in the register, being the date determined by section 4.33(2A) of the Act.
The new roll will also need to include:
- owners or their nominees retained from the previous roll because the owners are still on the rates record for the same property, and are therefore recorded in the register as retaining eligibility; and
- occupiers or their nominees retained from the previous roll because their expiry date under section 4.33(2A) or 4.33(2B) of the Act has not passed.
Preparation of the owners and occupiers roll must be completed by
15 September 2017, which is also the last day for the Electoral Commissioner to forward the residents roll to the CEO. This allows for any consolidation of the rolls, and for their provision to council members and election candidates following the nomination period.
For more information related to the topics covered in this elections bulletin, and support available from the department, please contact the LG Hotline on 1300 762 511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This publication was prepared by:
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street, PERTH WA 6000
GPO Box R1250, PERTH WA 6844
Telephone: (08) 6551 8700 Fax: (08) 6552 1555
Freecall (Country Only): 1800 620 511
Email: email@example.com Web: www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – Telephone: 13 15 50