A House of Representatives ballot paper is only formal if the voter has indicated a first preference and consecutively numbered all boxes. A number in the series may not be repeated or skipped.

If one box is left blank and all other boxes have been numbered in a consecutive sequence starting with the number '1', the paper is formal providing:

- the blank box is the last in the consecutive sequence; and
- there is no marking at all in the box.

Alterations to numbers will not make a ballot paper informal, provided the voter's intention is clear, for example a number can be crossed out and another number written beside it.

Example – consecutive numbering

This ballot paper is formal

There are eight consecutive numbers reasonably discernable.

If a number is overwritten in a way that makes it impossible to read, then the ballot paper is informal.

Example – overwritten ballot paper

This ballot paper is formal

The third box is an overwritten '3', the fourth box is an overwritten '4'.

**This ballot paper is informal**

The overwriting in the second square is indecipherable

For voting in the House of Representatives, voters may use a consecutive sequence in various styles – such as: numerals (1 2 3), words (one two three), roman numerals (I II III IV), or ordinal numerals (1st 2nd 3rd). In certain cases, a mixture of numbering sequences can be used, provided that the voter's intention is clear.

Example – numbering

In certain cases a mixture of numbering sequences can be used, provided that the voter's intention is clear.

This ballot paper is formal

Numbers can be written as words or figures.

**This ballot paper is informal**

Ticks or crosses are not a valid first preference mark for HoR ballot papers.

In the case of only two candidates on a HoR ballot paper, if the voter has placed a '1' in the box beside a candidate and

- left the second box blank, or
- inserted any other number

the ballot paper will be deemed formal (s.268(1)(c) of the Act).

For House of Representative ballot papers a single box may be left empty provided it is the last in the series and on the condition there is no marking in the box at all. A scribble or dot etc in the final box will result in informality if it is not recognisable as the next number in the series.

Two or more empty boxes on a House of Representatives ballot paper results in an informal vote.

Example – empty boxes on ballot paper

**This ballot paper is informal**

No discernable figure in the eighth square.

**This ballot paper is informal**

There are two empty boxes.

The vote can be made inside the box or beside the box/candidate name, provided the intention of the voter is clear.

Example – placement of votes

This ballot paper is formal

The figure in the eighth square reasonably resembles a '7'.

This ballot paper is formal

There is a consecutive series of discernable numbers beginning with '1' and the voter's intention is clear.

Unconventional but recognisable variations in handwriting, such as placing a stroke through the vertical stem of the number '7' or an upward angular stroke before the familiar vertical stroke on the number '1', should not result in a ballot paper being informal, provided any variations result in a series of numbers and the voter's intention is clear.

Example – variations in handwriting

This ballot paper is formal

The figure in the fourth box reasonably resembles a '1'.

This ballot paper is formal

There is a consecutive series of discernable numbers beginning with '1', and the voter's intention is clear.

If the voter crosses out or replaces a candidate's name on a ballot paper, that ballot paper is informal unless the square adjacent to the substitute candidate name is left blank or given the last preference in which case section 268(1)(c) of the Act would likely permit the HoR ballot paper being considered formal.

Note that this does not include cases where a fully printed ballot paper is altered to become a ballot paper for another division by a polling official.

If a candidate name has been added to the ballot paper by the voter and been allocated any number except the last number, the vote is informal.

Example – candidate name substitution

This ballot paper is formal

The voter has indicated consecutive preferences for all nominated candidates commencing with the number '1'.

**This ballot paper is informal**

The voter has not indicated a preference for all the candidates in the election.

**This ballot paper is informal**

The voter has not indicated a valid first preference.

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