For further information beyond this general nominations FAQ you should consult South Australian legislation - the Electoral Act 1985 (the Act), the Regulations under that Act, and the Constitution Act 1934 (the Constitution).  The Act, Regulations and Constitution may be downloaded from the South Australian Government Legislation website.

While the Electoral Commission SA (ECSA) will provide information, it cannot offer legal advice regarding the interpretation of the Act or the conduct of election campaigns. You may wish to consider seeking your own independent legal advice on any complex queries.

What are my responsibilities regarding funding and disclosure?

Candidates need to be aware of the new provisions and their obligations under Part 13A of the Act dealing with election funding, expenditure and disclosure.

For information on candidate obligations the following documents are available via Candidate nomination forms and guides:

  • Funding and Disclosure By-election Guide – Unendorsed Candidates
  • Public Funding Information Sheet
  • Section 130Y Certificate – By-election
What are the eligibility requirements to be a candidate?

A candidate must be properly nominated before they can contest an election for the House of Assembly. A candidate may stand as an independent (unendorsed) candidate OR be endorsed by a registered political party.

A person wishing to nominate as a candidate must be enrolled as an elector for an address in South Australia at the date of roll closure. A person can verify their enrolment at the Australian Electoral Commission . 

A person entitled to enrol must be:

  • at least 18 years old;
  • an Australian citizen, or
  • a British subject who was enrolled on either a South Australian, Commonwealth or Territory roll sometime between 26 October 1983 and 25 January 1984 inclusive; and
  • of sound mind; and
  • a resident of South Australia and has lived at their principal place of residence (for which they claim enrolment) for at least one month immediately preceding the date of the claim for enrolment.
What if I am an Officer or employee of the Crown?
A person who is an officer or employee of the Crown should check the relevant state or Commonwealth legislation, detailing the requirements of public sector employees when contesting state elections (e.g. Public Sector Act 2009 (SA); Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) and Regulations).

Where do I get information on how to nominate?

Nomination kits are available from Returning Officers (ROs) and ECSA, and for candidates endorsed by a registered political party, from party registered officers.

Each House of Assembly nomination kit contains:

  • a Candidate Guide; 
  • a Scrutineer Guide;
  • a nomination form and application for printing descriptive information on the ballot papers;
  • Nominators Declaration Forms (if applicable);
  • a voting ticket preference allocation form;
  • scrutineer appointment forms; and
  • Funding and Disclosure Guide, information sheet and a Section 130Y Certificate.

Further guides and scrutineer appointment forms may be downloaded from ECSA’s website.

When and where can a nomination be lodged?

A nomination can only be lodged after the issue of the writ and on the official nomination form.

Independent candidate nominations must:

  • be lodged with the relevant RO for the district;
  • be lodged by 12 noon on the day fixed for the close of nominations;
  • the names and signatures of at least 20 nominators who are electors enrolled for the district for which the candidate is nominating.

It is highly recommended that more than 20 nominators are provided in support of a House of Assembly nomination in case any of the 20 nominators are found to be ineligible during the nomination checking process.

Is a deposit required to nominate?
A nomination must be accompanied by a deposit of $1,000 paid by banker’s cheque (made payable to the Electoral Commission SA) or by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) of the amount into an ADI account specified by the Electoral Commissioner (please refer to Form RO 106 in Candidate nomination forms and guides); and

Independent candidates must ensure their nomination is received by the relevant RO before noon on nomination day, as late nominations cannot be accepted. Candidates should contact the relevant RO to arrange a suitable date and time for nomination lodgement.

Party endorsed candidate nominations

The registered officer of the party may lodge multiple nominations, and if so, must lodge them at least 48 hours before the hour of nomination with the Electoral Commissioner. Note - if nominations for independent candidates close on a Monday, party endorsed multiple candidate lodgements cannot be made on Saturday – they must be lodged by close of business (5pm) on the preceding Friday.

Can a nomination be withdrawn?
A candidate may withdraw their nomination by advising the relevant RO in writing before the close of nominations. The nomination is then cancelled, and the deposit refunded. A nomination cannot be withdrawn once nominations have closed.

What nomination information is required to produce ballot papers?

House of Assembly ballot papers are printed in a format prescribed by regulation. They may contain political affiliations or other descriptive information relating to candidates.

Names on ballot papers

A candidate must indicate on the nomination form how they wish their name to appear on the ballot paper.

A candidate’s ballot paper name may include a shortening of the name or any name by which the candidate is generally known, e.g.:

  • William Jones to be printed on ballot paper as: JONES Bill
  • Beatrice Jones to be printed on ballot paper as: JONES Betty
  • William Smith to be printed on ballot paper as: SMITH Snowy

The surname will be printed in CAPITALS with the given name(s) printed below in title case. 

If a candidate requires part of their surname to be shown in lower case, the candidate must clearly indicate their wishes on the nomination form, e.g.:

  • De LAINE (not DELAINE)
  • van der MEER (not VAN DER MEER).

Descriptive information on ballot papers 

For endorsed party candidates, the descriptive information printed adjacent to the name of an endorsed party candidate on the ballot paper is limited to the registered party name; or the registered party abbreviation. The registered officer of the party completes the descriptive information on form RO 40A which is lodged together with nomination forms RO 40B. 

Independent candidates must complete the appropriate section on nomination form RO 44 to have descriptive information printed adjacent to their name on the ballot paper. The descriptive information must commence with the word ‘Independent’ followed by not more than three additional words. 

The additional words may not:

  • contain the word ‘Party’
  • be obscene or frivolous
  • constitute or so nearly resemble a distinctive aspect or part of the name of a parliamentary party or a registered political party, unless the applicant provides the Electoral Commissioner with a declaration that has been signed by a person authorised by the relevant parliamentary party or registered political party and states that the party consents to the use of the particular word or set of words.
How is the order of names on the ballot paper determined?
The order in which the names of candidates are printed on the ballot papers is determined by lot as prescribed by regulation. This is carried out publicly by the RO for each district at their designated office, as soon as practicable after the close of nominations.

What is a voting ticket?
A voting ticket is a written statement of preferences, used to interpret the votes of electors who do not indicate a preference for all candidates on the HA ballot paper. Its purpose is to ‘save’ partially preferenced ballot papers that would normally be informal and render them as formal.

If an elector fails to express a preference for all candidates on the ballot paper, but the preferences that are expressed are consecutive and follow the same order as displayed on a candidate’s voting ticket, then the ballot paper is formal and is deemed to have followed all preferences recorded on the voting ticket. For more information please refer to Part 6 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide - Candidate nomination forms and guides.

What is a how-to-vote card?

A how-to-vote card is a card prepared by or on behalf of a candidate that indicates the manner in which a vote should be recorded by a voter. Candidates need to be aware of the general provisions under the Act that relate to the distribution of how-to-vote cards during an election period and also the requirements of sections 66 and 112A.

  • Section 66 of the Act and Regulation 9 relate to how-to-vote cards submitted to the Electoral Commissioner for display in voting screens on polling day and printed in booklets for early voting centres, and
  • Section 112A of the Act and Regulation 15 relate to any material that has the appearance of a how-to-vote card that is distributed or made available during the election.
For more information on how-to-vote cards please refer to Part 7 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide - Candidate nomination forms and guides.

What do I need to know about electoral advertising?
There are a number of restrictions placed on advertising during and outside of an election period. Candidates need to be aware of the legislation covering electoral advertisements, commentaries and other material and must familiarise themselves with Part 13 Division 2 of the Act.

An electoral advertisement means ‘an advertisement containing electoral matter’. Electoral matter means ‘matter calculated to affect the result of an election’. For more information on electoral advertising please refer to Part 8 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide - Candidate nomination forms and guides.

What is a scrutineer and how do I appoint one?
Scrutineers are an important part of the election process and are appointed by candidates to represent them during polling and throughout the various stages of counting ballot papers.

A scrutineer: 

  • is appointed to act as an independent observer of the electoral processes for the polling, scrutiny and counting of votes in an election;
  • verifies that the procedures undertaken by electoral officials are fair, proper and according to law; and
  • has legal rights and obligations under the Act.

A scrutineer must address any query or concern to the officer-in-charge of proceedings and not to other election officials. An officer-in-charge may be an electoral visitor or mobile polling team leader, a polling booth manager (PBM) at a polling booth or the RO at the scrutiny and official count of ballot papers after polling day. If a scrutineer’s conduct is in any way disorderly or they fail to obey lawful directions, the officer-in-charge may ask the scrutineer to leave the polling or scrutiny location.

A candidate may appoint up to two scrutineers to represent them at a polling booth or count centre to observe procedures.

Forms for appointment are included in nomination kits provided to candidates and may also be downloaded from ECSA’s website. An appointment must: 

  • be in writing;
  • contain the name and residential address of the scrutineer; and
  • be signed by the candidate.

For further information on scrutineers please refer to the House of Assembly Scrutineer Guide - Candidate nomination forms and guides.

What kinds of voting services are provided at state elections?
ECSA provides a range of services and facilities that allows electors to vote prior to and on polling day. These services and facilities include:
  • early voting centres;
  • declared institutions (nursing homes, aged care facilities etc);
  • mobile polling booths (in country district remote areas only);
  • postal voting; and
  • polling booths.

For more information on voting services please refer to the ECSA website or Part 10 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide.

When do ballot papers get counted?
Ordinary vote ballot papers lodged by electors voting at polling booths within their own district on polling day are counted by electoral officials at the polling booth following the close of voting at 6pm. The order of proceedings of House of Assembly (HA) ballot papers at scrutiny is:
  • count of HA ballot papers;
  • count of HA ballot papers that may be formal because of candidates’ voting tickets, and
  • two candidate preferred count (notional distribution of HA preferences).
For more information on ballot paper scrutiny and counting at a polling booth please refer to Counting the votes for the House of Assembly or Part 11 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide - Candidate nomination forms and guides.

How do preferences work in the House of Assembly?
Please refer to Counting the votes for the House of Assembly or Part 12.4 of the Candidate nomination forms and guides for an illustrative explanation of preferential voting.

When is the result of the election determined?
Declarations of the poll for the House of Assembly are usually conducted during the second week after polling day once the outcome has become clear.

Are there any provisions for re-counts or to question a result?
Candidates do not have the right under the Act to demand a re-count. However, where appropriate they may request that the Electoral Commissioner direct a re-count before the declaration of the result of an election.

The validity of any election may only be disputed by a petition to the Court of Disputed Returns. At South Australian state elections, the Supreme Court is the Court of Disputed Returns and its jurisdiction is exercisable by a single judge. The decisions of the Court are final. For more information please refer to Part 13 of the Candidate nomination forms and guides.

What is the process around making an electoral complaint?
The Complaints Protocol establishes the standards which the Electoral Commissioner requires for electoral complaints to be considered and establishes the standards which individuals and organisations may expect to receive in their dealings with the ECSA. The handling of electoral complaints under the Act is subject to ECSA’s Complaints Protocol policy and the Instructions for the handling of complaints regarding offences under the Act.

Any individual or organisation may make a complaint about an electoral offence under the Act. To be considered a formal complaint, the complaint must be submitted on the General Feedback and Complaints Form or the Electoral Complaints Form (available on our website). The complaint must establish the facts which are the basis of the allegation and be supported by evidence of the alleged electoral offence.

For more information on lodging a complaint please refer to Part 14 of the House of Assembly Candidate Guide or Feedback and Complaints.