From the Newsroom

First time candidate Alison Whaites ‘witnesses’ the results of the ballot paper draw – she is number 7 on the ballot paper. Image: Geoff Helisma

Sixteen candidates to contest election

Geoff Helisma

It was a low-key affair at the ballot draw for the December 4 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) election, with a handful of candidates in attendance at the Maclean civic hall on Thursday November 4.

The draw was delayed for an hour as the NSW Electoral Commission uploaded relevant information to enable the ballot draws around the state to commence.

Each of the candidates has nominated as “independent” candidates, apart from current councillor Greg Clancy, who is a member of The Greens; however, Warren Lang and Donald Scott left that section blank on their nomination forms.

At the 2016 local government election there were 21 candidates, compared to 16 this time around.

Elected councillors will serve a shortened term (two years and nine months), as a result of previous postponements of the current election due to the pandemic – the next local government election is in September 2024.

A proportional representation system is used to decide who is elected.

A candidate is elected if they receive votes equal to or exceeding a quota, which is the total number of first preferences (plus 1) divided by the number of candidates to be elected (nine).

Those who reach the quota – 2,971 votes at the 2016 election – are declared elected.

After the first count, the elected candidates’ surpluses of ballot papers over the quota are transferred to the continuing candidates (those not yet elected or excluded) – each candidate’s surplus is transferred (one at a time) to their next preferred continuing candidate, from the highest surplus to the lowest.

Each ballot paper is worth a portion of that surplus (the transfer value).

Example: if an elected candidate had 100 ballot papers and their surplus was 10 votes, then each ballot paper would be worth 0.1 of a vote. A continuing candidate receiving 20 of these ballot papers would therefore receive 2 of the 10 surplus votes.

After each transfer of ballot papers (and their associated votes), if any more candidates have reached quota, they are elected and added to the queue of surpluses to be transferred. This transfer of surpluses continues (one at a time) until all have been transferred.

After this, if vacancies still remain, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is excluded.

All the ballot papers received by this candidate, including those received from surplus transfers, are sorted to the continuing candidates according to their next available preference.

This process continues until either no vacancies remain to be filled or the number of remaining candidates equals the number of remaining vacancies – or all remaining vacancies can be filled by candidates whose total votes cannot be overtaken by the remaining candidates in the count.

In these circumstances, the elected candidates are elected despite not reaching the quota (as happened with Greg Clancy at the 2016 election).

Candidates will appear on the ballot in the following order – the brackets contain each candidates’ nominated locality in which they are enrolled:


  1. HANSON Pete (Townsend)
  2. SMITH Jeff (Grafton)
  3. NOVAK Debrah (Yamba)
  4. TILEY Ian (Maclean)
  5. LANG Warren (Maclean)
  6. DAY Bill (Palmers Channel)
  7. WHAITES Allison (South Grafton)
  8. CLANCY Greg (Coutts Crossing)
  9. SCOTT Donald (Clarenza)
  10. GIBBINS Ash (Grafton)
  11. ELLEM Peter (Wooloweyah)
  12. TOMS Karen (Yamba)
  13. BELLETTY Phil (Elland)
  14. JOHNSTONE Peter (South Grafton)
  15. PICKERING Steve (Ulmarra)
  16. FULLER Jeffrey (South Grafton)