Like members of State and Federal Parliaments, local government councillors are elected by their constituents. In local government these constituents are the residents and ratepayers of the municipality.
Electoral structures for councils vary, depending on local conditions. Many councils are divided into wards, where one or more councillors are elected to represent each ward. Some other councils are not divided into wards and all councillors are elected to represent the entire council area.
Following changes made to the Local Government Act in 2003, all council elections have been aligned to a common date and cycle. Since November 2008, elections are conducted for every Victorian council every four years.
The election day for council elections is the fourth Saturday in October every four years. Elections are nearly always conducted by an electoral commission and voting may be by postal or attendance voting.
Participating as a voter
People who are residents of a municipality or who pay rates to the council are entitled to be enrolled as voters in a council election. Voters cast their votes in different ways, depending on whether the election is by postal voting or by attendance at a voting centre.
Participating as a candidate
The purpose of council elections is to elect people who voters believe will represent the community’s best interests and make responsible decisions on behalf of the community. Candidates must be eligible to vote in the council election and must be Australian Citizens.
Just like Federal and State governments, Victorian councils observe special arrangements during the period leading up to an election. These are generally referred to as “caretaker arrangements” and they apply during a defined “election period”.
Filling occasional vacancies
Vacancies on council that occur between general elections are filled by by-election or a countback, depending on whether or not the vacancy is in a single member or multi-member ward.
Electoral Representation Reviews
Electoral Representation Reviews are conducted every 12 years in each municipality in order to identify the most appropriate electoral structure to provide fair and equitable representation of voters in council elections.