Scrutineers and special vote witnesses for parties

This section explains which parts of the election scrutineers can be appointed to observe and the training of special vote witnesses.

Appointment of scrutineers

Scrutineers are in most instances appointed by candidates. If there is no electorate candidate standing for a party in a district, the party secretary can appoint scrutineers for the district.

Before being allowed to serve as a scrutineer, all scrutineers must make a declaration that they will not compromise the secrecy of the poll. The declaration is provided in the Scrutineer Handbook - General Election 2017 or is available from the Returning Officer and must be made before an electoral official, Justice of the Peace or solicitor.

We will update the handbook before the 2020 General Election.

Scrutineer appointments must be in writing and be signed by the person making the appointment. Scrutineers should be provided with a copy of their written appointment to produce to electoral officials. The appointment form can be an original, fax, or photocopy. It must specify the voting place or other election process that the scrutineer has been appointed to observe. The Scrutineer Handbook contains an optional appointment form that the candidate or party secretary can use for appointing scrutineers.

A candidate may not be appointed as a scrutineer.

Role of scrutineers

Candidates may appoint scrutineers to observe the conduct of the election in the following situations:

Voting places and advance voting places

Scrutineers may observe the issue of votes during election day and advance voting, and the preliminary count in voting places after 7pm. The number of scrutineers for a candidate in a voting place at any one time must not exceed the number of issuing officers designated for the voting place.

Scrutineers may:

  • require an issuing officer to question a voter who the scrutineer suspects of impersonation or double voting
  • communicate to party officials the names of persons who have voted in the voting place
  • observe the preliminary count.

Scrutineers must not talk to voters or help with the count.

Scrutineers may use laptops/tablets, but only on strict conditions. Scrutineers will not be allowed to engage in any activity on these devices which would compromise the secrecy and integrity of the voting place.

Laptops or tablets can only be used to record name, page and line numbers. Commenting on social media or using video or their camera is not permitted.

If scrutineers have any concerns about the conduct of an election in a voting place they should raise them with the Voting Place Manager.

Early count of advance votes

One scrutineer per candidate can attend the early count of advance votes at the Returning Officer’s headquarters which commences at any time from 9am on election day.

The Returning Officer will notify the candidates of the start time for the early count for the electorate. Scrutineers may not leave the secured counting area in the Returning Officer’s headquarters before the poll closes at 7pm without the Returning Officer’s permission.

Special vote declarations

Scrutineers may attend the office of the Registrar of Electors to observe the checking of special vote declarations against the electoral rolls, which starts from the Wednesday after election day. Only one scrutineer per candidate may attend at any given time.

Scrutiny of the rolls and the official count

One scrutineer per candidate may attend the scrutiny of the rolls and the official count at the Returning Officer’s headquarters unless the Returning Officer allows more.

List seats

A party secretary can appoint a scrutineer to attend the allocation of party list seats by the Commission. The Commission will contact you to let you know what time this will be.

Judicial recount

Candidates may appoint a scrutineer to attend a judicial recount of electorate votes. The provision is for one scrutineer per candidate unless the Judge allows more.

Where there is a recount of party votes in either a single electorate or nationwide, the party secretary can appoint a scrutineer. Only one scrutineer per party may be present unless the Judge permits more.

Hospitals and rest homes

Local party organisations may, with the approval of the person in charge of a hospital or rest home, appoint scrutineers to accompany an electoral official issuing hospital votes on or before election day.

Special vote witnesses

Candidates may nominate people to be authorised by the Returning Officer as witnesses of special voting declarations. Appointments must be in writing and signed by the candidate. These people may then witness the declarations of voters who cannot get to a voting place on election day.

The Returning Officer will not approve special vote witnesses unless they have been trained to the Returning Officer's satisfaction. This is to avoid voters being disenfranchised by incorrect procedures. The Returning Officer will advise candidates of training times for special vote witnesses.

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