As of lunchtime on Monday, the returning office for the Clarence Valley Council election was entering data into the system – postal votes were received until 5pm that day.
The vote counting process is likely to be completed on Thursday, returning officer Lisa Stout said, and the final result should be, if all goes to plan, announced on Friday September 16.
Not allowing for the receipt of postal votes, 31,354 of the valley’s 39,070 voted on polling day – there were 1,792 informal votes.
Only one of the 21 candidates, Richie Williamson, had reached an unofficial quota, having received 4,921 votes, which is well short of the 9,223 he gained in 2012.
In order of first preference votes, others in contention to be elected, pending the allocation of preferences, were: Andrew Baker 2,888 votes, Karen Toms 2,294 votes, Debrah Novak 2,023 votes, Jason Kingsley 1,194 votes, Jim Simmons 1,971 votes, Peter Ellem 1,946 votes, and Greg Clancy 1,622 votes.
A group of candidates, Brett Tibbett 1,250 votes, Arthur Lysaught 1,115 votes, Margaret McKenna 1,066 votes, John Hagger 1,062 votes, Sue Hughes 981 votes, Trevor Ellem 954 votes, Peta Rogers 937 votes and Ian Saunders 916 votes could also figure in the final count, depending on how preferences are distributed.
“To be elected a candidate generally must gain a quota of the formal votes,” the Electoral Commission of NSW’s website states.
At the time of writing, the progressive quota was 2,957 votes, however, the quota cannot be finalised until the total number of formal first preference votes is known.
A quota equals the total number of formal votes, divided by one more than the number of vacancies – 10 in the case of the Clarence Valley.
When candidates reach a quota and are elected, surplus or extra votes above the quota are distributed (pro rata) to the remaining candidates.
“Candidates with the lowest number of votes are then excluded and their ballot papers are redistributed according to the next choice shown,” the Electoral Commission of NSW’s website states.
“This process continues until all the vacancies are filled.
“Candidates can also be elected if the remaining number of candidates in the count equals the number of vacant positions still to be filled.”
The fine for not voting is $55. The Electoral Commission NSW is required, by law, to issue a penalty notice to an elector, who appears to have failed to vote at an election.
The notice gives options to: provide a claim that you voted and details of where you voted; give a reason in writing for not voting; pay the penalty; apply to have the matter heard in court (the maximum penalty that a court may impose for an offence of failing to vote is $110 plus court costs).
You must reply within 28 days of the issue date of the notice.
The elected council will undergo induction training on September 24 and participate in a workshop, exploring the council’s financial position on September 27.
At the first meeting of council (at a date yet to be fixed) the new councillors will elect a mayor, nominate chairs of standing committees and make appointments to various committees.