There are a number of restrictions placed on advertising during and outside of an election period. These are contained within Part 13 Division 2 of the Electoral Act 1985 (the Act).

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.

Enquiries or issues relating to the placement of signs in the public realm (i.e. height of signs, placement etc) should be directed to the relevant council as these matters are dealt with under the Local Government Act 1999.

  • Electoral advertisement is defined by the Act as an advertisement containing electoral matter.
  • Electoral matter is defined by the Act as matter calculated to affect the result of an election.

Publication of electoral advertisements 

Electoral Act - ss 112(1),(2)

A person must not publish or distribute, or cause or permit to be published or distributed, an electoral advertisement in printed form or through electronic publication on the internet unless:

  • the name (being the name by which the person is usually known) and address (not being a post office box) of the author, or the person authorising its publication, appears at the end; and
  • if the advertisement is authorised for a registered political party or a candidate endorsed by a registered political party, the party's name or, if the Register of Political Parties includes an abbreviation of the party's name, that abbreviation appears at the end; and
  • if the advertisement is authorised for a relevant third party, the relevant third party's name appears at the end; and
  • in the case of an electoral advertisement that is printed but not in a newspaper, the name and place of business of the printer, appears at the end.

This does not apply to:

  • a car sticker, T-shirt, lapel button or badge, pen, pencil or balloon; or
  • an electoral advertisement consisting of a letter or leaflet that carries the signature and the name and address (not being a post office box) of its author and is not printed:
    • by a person who carries on the business of printing or a business a significant part of which involves printing; or
    • by or on behalf of a person who publishes a newspaper, magazine, periodical or similar publication.

How-to-vote cards

Electoral Act - s 112A

Certain descriptions not to be used

Electoral Act - s 112B

A person must not publish or distribute an electoral advertisement or a how-to-vote card that identifies a candidate:

  • by reference to the registered name of a registered political party or a composite name consisting of the registered names of 2 registered political parties; or
  • by use of the word or set of words containing the word 'Independent'; and
    • the name or abbreviation or acronym of the name, of a parliamentary party or a registered political party; or
    • matter that so nearly resembles the name, or an abbreviation or acronym of the name, of a registered political party that the matter is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that name or abbreviation or acronym; or
  • by the use of a word or set of words that could not be, or may not be able to be, registered as the name, or as part of the name, of a political party under Part 6 because of the operation of section 42(3)(b)

unless -

    • the candidate is endorsed by the relevant parliamentary party or registered political party; or
    • the relevant parliamentary party or registered political party has consented to the use of the relevant name or names or word or words.
  • a person must not publish or distribute an electoral advertisement or a how-to-vote card that identifies a candidate by use of the word 'Independent' if the candidate is endorsed by a registered party. 

Misleading advertising

Electoral Act - ss 113(1),(2),(4)

A person who authorises, causes or permits the publication of an electoral advertisement by any means (including radio or television) is guilty of an offence if the advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate and misleading to a material extent.

If the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that an electoral advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact that is inaccurate and misleading to a material extent, the Electoral Commissioner may request the advertiser to do one or more of the following:

  • withdraw the advertisement from further publication;
  • publish a retraction in specified terms and a specified manner and form.

Headings to electoral advertisements

Electoral Act - s 114

If electoral matter is published in written form (whether for sale or without charge) in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical, or in an electronic publication on the internet, the publisher of the matter must ensure the word ‘advertisement’ is included as a headline to each article or paragraph containing the electoral matter.

If the matter is published in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical, the headline must be in letters not smaller than 10 point or long primer.

If the matter is published in an electronic publication, the headline must be in letters of a size that will be readily legible.

Size of electoral advertisements

  • Electoral Act - s 115
  • Electoral Regulations - reg 16(a)

 No electoral advertisement more than 1 square metre in area can be exhibited on:

  • a vehicle or vessel; or
  • a building, hoarding or other structure (for example, fences).

If 2 or more electoral advertisements are placed within one metre of each other, and exhibited on behalf of the same candidate or political party, they will be taken to be a single advertisement.

However, if such advertisements are displayed on different surfaces which interface at an angle of 270º or more, then they are not considered to be a single advertisement (see diagram below - click on picture to view in full screen mode).

Signage pics electoral advertising page

NOTE: An electoral advertisement more than 1 square metre in area may be projected on a screen at a theatre (including a drive-in theatre).

There is no restriction on the size of advertisements which exhibit the name of a candidate or a political party if they are displayed at or near an office or committee room of that candidate or political party, however they must not be posted within 100 metres of the entrance to a polling booth.