Informal voting

Updated: 15 February 2017

A vote is regarded as informal if the ballot paper has not been completed properly. Informal ballot papers are not counted towards any candidate but are set aside.

According to section 268 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918), a vote is informal if:

  • the ballot paper is not marked at all
  • the ballot paper does not have the official mark and has not been initialled by the polling official, and the ballot paper is not authentic in the opinion of the Divisional Returning Officer (DRO)
  • the ballot paper has writing on it which identifies the voter
  • in the case of an absent vote, the ballot paper is not contained in the declaration envelope
  • in the House of Representatives, the voter has not completed a full preferential vote
  • in the Senate, if the voter has not filled at least six boxes above the line or at least 12 boxes below the line
  • there are savings measures to keep formal some ballot papers marked incompletely or incorrectly.

The Ballot paper formality guidelines contain detailed information on how polling place officials determine formality of ballot papers, including vote-saving provisions.

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