Australian Electoral Commission

Counting the votes for the House of Representatives

Updated: 17 July 2015

A House of Representatives candidate is elected if they gain more than 50 per cent of the formal vote.

First, all of the number '1' votes are counted for each candidate. If a candidate gets more than half the total first preference votes, that candidate will be elected.

If no candidate has more than half of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. This candidate's votes are transferred to the other candidates according to the second preferences of voters on the ballot papers for the excluded candidate. If still no candidate has more than half the votes, the candidate who now has the fewest votes is excluded and the votes are transferred according to the next preference shown. This process continues until one candidate has more than half the total number of formal votes and is elected.

A distribution of preferences takes place in every division, even where a candidate already has an absolute majority of first preference votes. The result of this full distribution of preferences is used to calculate the two-party-preferred (TPP) statistics for divisions that have the Australian Labor Party and Coalition representatives as the final two candidates.

In divisions that do not have the Australian Labor Party and Coalition representatives as the final two candidates, a scrutiny for information is conducted to determine the TPP result. A scrutiny for information, in such cases, is a notional distribution of preferences to find the result of preference flows to the Australian Labor Party and Coalition candidates.

Example of a distribution of preferences: Division of Denison (2010 federal election)

Total Formal Vote: 64 8591
Absolute Majority (50%+1): 32 430
  WILKIE, Andrew (Independent) JACKSON, Jonathan (ALP) BARNES, Mel (SAL) SIMPKINS, Cameron John (LP) COUSER, Geoffrey Alan (GRN)
First count 13 788 votes 21.26% 23 215 votes 35.79% Excluded 856 votes 1.32% 14 688 votes 22.65% 12 312 votes 18.98%
  +269 votes +229 votes   +98 votes +260 votes
Second count 14 057 votes 21.67% 23 444 votes 36.15%   14 786 votes 22.80% Excluded 12 572 votes 19.38%
  +6 635 votes +4 888 votes   +1 049 votes  
Third count 20 692 votes 31.90% 28 332 votes 43.68%   Excluded 15 835 votes 24.41%  
  +12 525 votes +3 310 votes      
Fourth count Elected 33 217 votes 51.21% Excluded 31 642 votes 48.79%      
  1. When the number of formal votes is odd, to calculate the absolute majority you first calculate 50 per cent of the total number of formal votes, add 1 to this calculation and then round up to the next whole number.

Declaration of the poll

The result of the House of Representatives election is formally announced by the Divisional Returning Officer as soon as it is known, in a public ceremony known as the 'declaration of the poll'.