New South Wales local government elections take place tomorrow – here’s what you need to know

More than 120 elections will be held tomorrow and nearly every NSW resident is required to vote.

Local council elections will be held to crown new mayors and councilors representing communities across the state.

Of the 128 councils in NSW, 124 will hold elections for council members, while residents of 35 local government areas (LGAs) will choose their mayors.

In Sydney, Lord Mayor Clover Moore is looking to extend her 17-year reign, after being first elected in 2004.

Here’s what you need to know about voting.

Clover Moore speaking into a microphone.
Clover Moore is running for another term as Lord Mayor of Sydney.(AAP: Dan Hembrichts)

Is voting compulsory?

Just like state and federal elections, voting is also mandatory in local council elections in NSW.

If you are on the NSW electoral roll, and live within an LGA hosting an election, you will be required to vote before polls close on Saturday.

If you do not know which council you live in, you can find out through the NSW Electoral Commission website.

A complete list of nominees for each board and center across the state is also available on the website.

The only boards not taking a vote this weekend are Balranald, Central Darling, Central Coast and Wingecarribee.

What happens if I don’t vote?

Not voting could cost you a fine of at least $55.

If the NSW Electoral Commission believes you did not vote, it will issue a notice of non-voting, and you have 28 days to respond.

If an eligible voter can demonstrate that he has actually voted, the fine can be waived.

Missing the 28-day deadline will result in a referral to Revenue NSW and an additional $65 fee.

Choosing to appeal the fine in court could increase the penalty to $110 if you are unsuccessful.

woman wearing a blue jacket
Dai Lee is running for mayor of Fairfield against incumbent Frank Carbone.(ABC News: Kathleen Calderwood)

How do I vote?

Residents can find polls at schools, townhouses, community centers, churches and parks across the state on Saturday.

You can also vote in person early at pre-polling stations or you can apply to vote online.

A full list of polling stations and instructions can be found on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

The eligibility criteria for online and mail voting to hold elections have been expanded in light of COVID-19.

Applications to vote online or by phone – using a system called iVote – close at 1pm on election day.

Voting with iVote is open to people for a range of reasons including if they are blind or have low vision, need help voting, live within 20 kilometers of a polling station or will not be within their LGA range on Election Day.

Are precautions for Covid-19 virus in place?

Voters will be required to check-in, wear a mask and social distancing at polling stations.

Voting is mandatory for all eligible residents regardless of vaccination status.

All election workers must be vaccinated.

The protocols also prohibit the distribution of leaflets on how to vote within 100 meters of polling places.

What do local councils do?

The old saying goes that councils take care of roads, prices and litter but that would be an unfair summary of many of the roles they play.

Councils have a major say in how suburbs and communities are shaped in relation to parks, recreation, and, perhaps most importantly, development.

They also create strategies to support small businesses, organize community festivals, and act as a channel of communication between governments and society.

Local councils often pressure governments or represent residents when it comes to urban planning, hospitals, infrastructure, and transportation facilities.


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