FAQs: Candidates

Updated: 9 May 2019

What happens when a candidate resigns or is dis-endorsed by a political party during a federal election?

A candidate can withdraw their consent to be nominated at any time up until the close of nominations. For the 2019 federal election, nominations closed at 12 noon, Tuesday 23 April 2019.

Part XIV of the Electoral Act makes it clear that no changes can be made to the list of nominated candidates after the close of nominations at a federal election.

If, after the close of nominations, a candidate resigns from their political party or is disendorsed by their political party, the candidate’s name will remain on the ballot paper, along with the name of the political party that endorsed their nomination.

Do I still vote for a candidate who has resigned or has been disendorsed by a political party?

If, after the close of nominations, a candidate resigns from their political party or is disendorsed by their political party, the candidate’s name will remain on the ballot paper, along with the name of the political party that endorsed their nomination.

The ballot paper is still valid even if the candidate has resigned from the political party or been dis-endorsed by a political party and you must follow the instructions on the ballot paper.

The votes cast for resigned or dis-endorsed candidates will still be counted for these candidates and should they win, they will be entitled to sit in Parliament.

Who you vote for is your decision. It is important to read and follow the instructions on the ballot paper to make sure your vote counts.

House of Representatives

On the green House of Representatives ballot paper, you must number every box with a series of consecutive numbers in the order of your choice:

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

Senate

On the white Senate ballot paper, you have a choice of two ways to vote.

If you choose to vote above the line on the white Senate ballot paper you need to number at least 6 boxes. Put the number ‘1’ in the box for the party or group that is your first choice, a ‘2’ for your second choice and so on until you’ve numbered at least 6 boxes. You can continue to place numbers in the order of your choice in as many boxes above the line as you like.

If you choose to vote below the line, you need to number at least 12 boxes, from 1 to 12, for individual candidates in the order of your choice (with number ‘1’ as your first choice). You can continue to place numbers in the order of your choice in as many boxes below the line as you like.

More information is available on how to vote on the green House of Representatives ballot paper and white Senate ballot paper. You can also practise voting on the AEC website.

Can a candidate who has resigned or been disendorsed from a political party still be elected?

Yes, a candidate who resigns from their political party or is disendorsed by their political party can still be elected.

If a candidate who has resigned from their political party or has been disendorsed by their political party is declared elected, they are entitled to take their place in the Australian Parliament.

Is a candidate who has resigned or been disendorsed from a political party eligible to receive election funding?

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth), election funding is payable to the registered political party who endorsed a candidate as at the close of nominations.

What happens if a candidate dies?

If a nominated candidate dies before the close of nominations, the nomination period is extended by one day. The death does not affect the nomination of any other candidate or Senate group endorsed by the same registered political party and a new candidate can be substituted.

In a House of Representatives election, if a candidate dies between the declaration of nominations and election day, the election in that division does not proceed. A new writ is issued for another election, but this supplementary election is held using the electoral roll prepared for the original election.

In a Senate election, the death of a Senate candidate does not lead to the cancellation of the election. Instead an extra step is inserted into the count. The deceased candidate is automatically the first candidate excluded, and their preferences are distributed before the rest of the count proceeds as normal.

What happens if a candidate is elected to the Australian Parliament and resigns before the new Parliament meets?

If a candidate elected to the House of Representatives resigns, they would tender their resignation to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which would trigger a by-election to be held. More information is available on the conduct of a by-election.

If a candidate elected to the Senate resigns this would result in a casual vacancy in the Senate. The AEC plays no part in the process to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate and more information is available on the Parliament of Australia website.

Why doesn’t the AEC check the eligibility of all candidates at an election?

The AEC administers the federal elections according to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act). The Electoral Act does not provide the AEC with the authority to conduct eligibility checks on potential candidates.

The eligibility of candidates is addressed in Section 44 of the Constitution. The Attorney-General’s Department administers the Constitution and the AEC cannot disqualify a candidate relying on the operation of Section 44 of the Constitution. Section 172 of the Electoral Act sets out the only grounds upon which the AEC is able to reject a nomination of a candidate. Those grounds do not include disqualifying a candidate under the Constitution. Any disqualification of a candidate due to the operation of Section 44 of the Constitution can only be determined by the High Court after an election.

It is also worth noting that there is no data source available that would enable comprehensive candidate eligibility inquiries to be made in a timely and accurate way. The difficulty of such a task would also be exacerbated by the requirements of the election timetable specified in the Electoral Act, which provide for candidate nominations to be made less than a week prior to the start of early voting.

As part of the candidate nomination process, the qualification checklist enables candidates to outline their eligibility to be elected to Parliament under Section 44 of the Constitution.

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