Count schedule for 2019 Cheltenham and Enfield by-elections

Preliminary election results will be progressively updated live on the Electoral Commission SA website ( from around 7pm on 9 February 2019 until the final results are declared.

The counting of votes begins at 6pm on polling day and continues after election night until every declaration vote is counted. This cannot be completed until Sunday 17 February, the day after the legislative deadline for the receipt of postal votes.

Counting the votes on Election night – 9 February 2019 

On election night, polling officials at every polling booth are required to complete two main tasks after polling ends:

  1. conduct a scrutiny and indicative count of first preferences on House of Assembly ballot papers
  2. conduct a two-candidate-preferred count of the House of Assembly ballot papers

Only ordinary votes from polling booths are counted on election night. Ordinary votes are those votes that are cast at a polling booth within the electoral district where a voter is enrolled.

House of Assembly count on election night

After the final voter has finished voting and the polling booth doors have been closed, polling officials open and empty the House of Assembly ballot boxes. The ballot papers are unfolded and checked for formality (i.e. if the ballot paper has been correctly marked by the voter). Separate piles are then made for the number ‘1’ votes (first preferences) for each candidate. The piles are then counted and re-counted, as are the piles of informal ballot papers (i.e. ballot papers that have not been completed correctly).

The first preference votes are then recorded by the manager of the polling booth who checks this figure against the number of ballot papers issued to voters during polling.

Polling officials then proceed to conduct an indicative two-candidate-preferred count – a distribution of ballot papers to two selected candidates. These two candidates are those who the Electoral Commission expects to be the two who are most likely to finish first and second, based on a number of factors including historical voting patterns. The two-candidate-preferred count is undertaken to give an early indication of who is likely to win the seat, since this is not always obvious from first preferences alone. 

Polling officials set aside the ballot papers for the two selected candidates. The ballot papers for all the other candidates are examined to see which of the two selected candidates the voter has put ahead in their preferences. After allocating all of the ballot papers to one or other of the two selected candidates, the polling officials have an early indication of who is most likely to win the seat. This result, as well as the first preference results, are phoned through and entered into the Electoral Commission results system. This data appears on the ECSA website and is made available to the media immediately.

Counting the votes after election night


Sunday 10 February 2019

The indicative count of ordinary House of Assembly ballot papers carried out on election night is followed the next day by a careful recheck and recount which is conducted by each electoral district’s Returning Officer. 

All House of Assembly ballot papers which were assessed to be informal on election night are reassessed and some may be admitted to the count by the Returning Officer. Likewise, ballot papers considered formal on election night may now be reclassified as informal.

Once the recheck and recount are complete, revised polling booth figures are entered into the ECSA results system and the data is made public.

From Monday 11 February 2019

The counting of declaration votes – i.e.postal votes, pre-poll votes and absent votes – does not begin until the Monday after polling day once they have been returned to the Returning Officers and can be checked against the electoral roll to ensure that voters have not voted multiple times at the election. The process of counting these votes takes longer than the counting of ordinary votes.

The scrutiny of declaration votes is done in two stages:

  • the preliminary scrutiny of declaration envelopes containing absent, pre-poll or postal votes determines whether each person is entitled to a vote, and
  • the further scrutiny where the ballot papers admitted to the scrutiny are taken out of their envelopes and counted.

In the preliminary scrutiny, each declaration vote is assessed to ensure it meets certain requirements. The requirements are:

  • the declaration on the envelope has been properly completed and signed by the voter,
  • it has been appropriately witnessed, and
  • the voter is entitled to vote.

In addition, a postal vote must have been completed prior to the polls closing at 6pm on polling day.

ECSA is required to wait seven days after polling day to receive postal votes before it can finalise counting. This ensures that voters in remote areas and overseas are not disenfranchised.

Once a declaration vote is admitted to further scrutiny, the declaration envelope has its flap removed (containing the voter’s details) and is opened with a letter opening machine. The ballot papers are then extracted, scrutinised and counted in the same way as ordinary ballot papers. 

Declaration of results

Final results cannot be declared until all declaration votes have been received and counted. 

House of Assembly Returning Officers will conduct the declaration of the polls in the week commencing Monday 18 February 2019.

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