Australian Electoral Commission

Voting – House of Representatives

Updated: 25 February 2014

House of Representatives elections

Each Member of the House of Representatives is elected to represent an area known as an electoral division. Each electoral division within a state or territory contains about the same number of people on the electoral roll. The electors in each division elect one person to represent them in the House of Representatives.

House of Representatives ballot papers

The order of the candidates on the ballot paper for each electoral division is determined by a random draw conducted in the office of the Divisional Returning Officer immediately after the declaration of nominations. The House of Representatives ballot papers are green in colour.

How to complete the ballot paper

To vote for a Member of the House of Representatives, a voter is required to write the number '1' in the box next to the candidate who is their first choice, and the numbers '2', '3' and so on against all the other candidates until all the boxes have been numbered, in order of the voter's preference.

Ballot papers must be marked according to the rules for voting so that they do not create informal votes. Ballot papers cannot be counted if they are informal.

Polling officials at the polling place are available to assist voters in completing their ballot paper. If the voter makes a mistake on a ballot paper they may return it to the polling official who issued it and receive a fresh one.

House of Representative ballot paper

Formal votes

To make a formal vote on a House of Representatives ballot paper, a voter must number every box with a series of consecutive numbers according to their preference. A voter must:

  • write the number '1' in the box beside the candidate who is their first choice,
  • write the number '2' in the box beside the candidate who is their second choice,
  • write the number '3' in the box beside the candidate who is their third choice, and so on until they have numbered every box.

Informal votes

An informal ballot paper is one that has been incorrectly completed or not filled in at all. Informal votes are not counted towards any candidate but are set aside.

A House of Representatives ballot paper is informal if:

  • it is blank or unmarked,
  • ticks or crosses have been used,
  • it has writing on it which identifies the voter,
  • a number is repeated,
  • the voter's intention is not clear, or
  • it has not received the official mark of the presiding officer and is not considered authentic.

Note: If a House of Representatives ballot paper has all squares numbered but one, then it is assumed that the unmarked square constitutes the last preference and the ballot paper will be deemed formal.