In South Australia, whole of state council elections (called periodic elections) are held every 4 years for all 68 councils except the Municipal Council of Roxby Downs, which operates under its own administration.
The next periodic council elections will take place in November 2026.
If an elected position on a council becomes vacant between periodic elections, ECSA may conduct a supplementary election (often described as a by-election). A vacancy can occur due to death, illness, resignation, or any other circumstances according to the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.
Acts and Regulations
The rules that govern council elections are set out in:
The Acts and Regulations should be read in conjunction with the Local Government Act 1999.
Candidate eligibility and ineligibility
You are eligible to be a candidate for election as a member of a council if you are:
- an Australian citizen
- at the time the electoral roll closes:
- enrolled in the council area you are contesting, or
- the nominee of a body corporate or a group that has its name on the voters roll for the council area
- left off the voters roll for the council area in error.
You are not eligible to be a candidate for election as a member of a council if you are:
- a member of an Australian Parliament; or
- an undischarged bankrupt or receiving the benefit of a law for the relief of insolvent debtors; or
- have been sentenced to imprisonment and are, or could on the happening of some contingency become, liable to serve the sentence or the remainder of the sentence; or
- are an employee of the council; or
- are disqualified from election by court order under the Local Government Act 1999.
You are not eligible to be a candidate for election as a member of a council if you:
- in the case of a supplementary election - are a member of another council; or
- in the case of any election - are a candidate for election as a member of another council
Candidate disclosure returns
A person who is a candidate for election to an office of a council must lodge the following returns with the Electoral Commissioner:
- CAMPAIGN DONATIONS RETURN
- LARGE GIFTS RETURN
More information about candidate disclosure returns for recent elections can be accessed via the candidate returns for council elections page.
As a candidate, you have a range of important responsibilities and obligations under the law. These include making sure all electoral material you publish contains the proper authorisation statement, and that the material is not inaccurate and misleading.
View the electoral advertising page for more information.
All candidates, whether successful or not, must lodge disclosure returns. Read more on our candidate returns for council elections page.
There are restrictions placed on advertising during, and outside of, an election period. These are contained within Part 7 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999. The Electoral Commission SA is unable to provide advice on the interpretation of these provisions. Therefore, if you are in doubt about the interpretation, we recommend you seek independent legal advice.
Learn more on our electoral advertising page.
Forms and handbooks
- Campaign donation return LG2 (PDF, 829KB)
- Candidate handbook LG20 - supplementary elections 2023 (PDF, 1.1MB)
- Large gifts return LG52 (PDF, 232KB)
- Profile and photograph requirements LG13 (PDF, 735KB)
- Scrutineer authority LG15 - (PDF, 258KB)
- Scrutineer guide LG14 - (PDF, 528KB)
- Understanding the role of a councillor (PDF, 2.4MB)
- Voters roll - Acknowledgment of use LG55 (PDF, 236KB)
Responsibilities as a member of a council
Councils are responsible for many of the services that make South Australia such a great place to live and work, including libraries, playgrounds, sporting facilities and rubbish and recycling.
Becoming a councillor or mayor means you will help shape a wide range of policies and decisions that will impact the short and long-term future of your local community.
More information can be found on the council elections website.