2021 Local Government Elections

On Saturday 24 July 2021, the NSW Government announced the postponement of the Local Government elections in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Previously scheduled for Saturday 4 September 2021, the new date has been set for Saturday 4 December 2021. Find out more here.

Local Government is an elected system of government directly accountable to the local community. Leadership of councils is provided by 'the Council'. This is all of the elected representatives, or Councillors, who work together to provide good governance for the benefit of their local community. 
 
Cessnock City Council's election will be administered by the NSW Electoral Commission. All enquiries should be directed to them on 1300 135 736. The NSW Electoral Commission has appointed a Returning Officer to oversee the election process. Please see below the details of the Cessnock Electoral Office. 
 
Returning Officer: Colleen Williams

Cessnock Returning Office Location: Unit 7, 195-205 Wollombi Road, Cessnock
Phone: 0409 324 894
Operating Hours: Weekdays 9am to 5pm from Monday 26 July 2021


Voters FAQ

The below FAQ provides information about voting eligibility and the voting process.

Which ward do I belong to?

Our LGA is divided into four areas called ‘Wards’ and each ward has three Councillors to represent the people within these areas.

You can view ward maps on our How does Council work page.

Am I eligible to vote?

If you are a resident of Cessnock City Council Local Government Area, you can check if your enrolment details are up-to-date with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Council does not hold electoral information for local residents.

Can I vote if I am not a resident of the LGA?

If you are not a resident, you may be entitled to vote if you own, occupy or lease property in the local area as a corporation, business or individual.

Check if you're eligible

If you are eligible to vote as a non-resident, contact Council to be included in the non-residential roll.

What happens if I do not vote?

You will most likely receive a $55 fine. Council does not issue the fines and cannot overturn them.

More information about penalties for not voting is available on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Can I become a Councillor?

If you are passionate about what happens in your local community, becoming a Councillor is an exciting opportunity to make a difference and to represent the interests of residents.

For more information on how to become a Councillor or Mayor, read the below Candidates FAQ, visit the Office of Local Government's Become a Councillor and Information for Candidates pages, visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website, or download a Candidate Handbook here.

Candidates FAQ

The below FAQ provides general guidance about the process of nominating, and candidates’ obligations and responsibilities.

Can I run for Mayor or Councillor?

You can check the eligibility requirements on the NSW Electoral Commission website here. If you are still unsure whether you are eligible to run for public office in a local council or how the law applies to your specific circumstances, you should seek independent legal advice.

If eligible to nominate as a Mayor or Councillor, you must first lodge a nomination form. You can lodge your nomination online using the Electoral Commission’s online nomination system. Alternatively, paper nomination forms are available by calling the NSW Electoral Commission's Candidate Helpdesk on 1300 022 011.

Nominating incorporates the following:

  • Part A – Candidate details
  • Part B – Nominator details
  • Part C – Candidate information sheet
  • Part D – Statistical information sheet
  • A nomination deposit

Visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website for more information. You can also download the Candidate Handbook here.

Can two or more Councillor candidates form a group on the ballot?

Yes. Two or more Councillor candidates may form a group on the ballot paper and, where eligible, request a group voting square (box above the line) be printed on the ballot paper for the group.

In addition to lodging the nomination form, these candidates must also lodge a Request to form a group form.

Visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website for more information. You can also download the Candidate Handbook here.

What are the costs associated with candidacy?

All candidates must pay a nomination deposit of $125 each to the NSW Electoral Commission. Where candidates also lodge a Request to form a group, the deposit is capped at $625 for a group of five candidates or more.

If using the online nominations system, the deposit must be paid by either MasterCard or VISA. If using paper nomination forms, the nomination deposit must be paid by cash or bank or building society cheque.

Visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website for more information. You can also download the Candidate Handbook here.

What are the important dates?

Nominations can be lodged online from Monday 25 October 2021 and close 12 noon, Wednesday 3 November.

Late nominations will not be accepted. However, if using paper nomination forms, you must lodge your nomination and deposit with the Returning Officer for the council area in which you intend to stand as a candidate. Returning Officer office locations can be found here.

Visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website for more information. You can also download the Candidate Handbook here.

What are the rules around electoral funding?

NSW has strict laws that regulate the election campaign finances of political parties, candidates and groups at the election. These include requirements to operate a campaign account, and to record and disclose political donations and electoral expenditure. In addition, there are caps on political donations and electoral expenditure.

Prior to being nominated, candidates and groups can separately apply to the NSW Electoral Commission to be registered for electoral funding regulation purposes. Only once successfully registered is a candidate or group allowed to accept political donations and pay for electoral expenditure.

Forms for applying to be registered as a candidate or group are available on the Commission’s website. Online registration is also now available.

Learn more on the Funding and Disclosure Policies page on the Commission's website. Enquiries about being registered and the laws that apply to political donations and electoral expenditure should be sent to fdc@elections.nsw.gov.au.

Visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website for more information. You can also download the Candidate Handbook here.

When and where will the ballot paper draw take place?

A draw to determine the order of candidate names on the ballot paper and groups (where applicable) will be conducted at the office of the relevant Returning Officer. Details to be confirmed.

The ballot paper draw may be observed in person by candidates, representatives of registered political parties and the media, subject to the capacity of the Returning Officer’s office and COVID-19 safety measures. Attendees will be required to register their attendance via the Service NSW app and to comply with physical distancing requirements. Attendees may also be required to wear a face mask.

What are the rules around the placement of election signage?

The placement of signs associated with elections can cause concern for our community. 

Council regulates the placement of advertising signs for private businesses, requiring them only to be located on land where the business is operating, or where the product is sold and restricts their size.

Election signs are not subject to the same scrutiny and are regulated under the Election Act 2017 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

The Election Act (section 184) requires that advertising material, including signs and posters, cannot be displayed on or within land or buildings occupied, used by, or under the control or management of the Crown, NSW Government agencies, or a Council. Additionally, advertising on private land or buildings can only be undertaken with the written consent of the owner, or the property is owned or jointly owned by the candidate.

The Act also allows for posters to be displayed:

  • a) on the outer wall, fence or other boundary of the grounds of an enclosure in which a building used for voting is situated, or
  • b) within the grounds of an enclosure in which a building used for voting is situated, or
  • c) on a vehicle on a road or road related area (within the meaning of section 4 (1) of the Road Transport Act 2013), or
  • d) fixed or attached to a table or stall on a footpath or other public place at any time on the day of voting for an election

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Subdivision 13 (Election signs) of Division 2 of Part 2) establishes standards relating to the sign’s location and display period.

It is Council’s interpretation that election posters cannot therefore be erected/placed:

  • on trees;
  • on footpath areas; or
  • on any structure within a road reserve.

Council will respond to any compliance issues as resources allow in accordance with our adopted policies and procedures. Any illegally placed signage which requires impounding will require payment of the appropriate fees in accordance with Councils adopted fees and charges.

For more information, please refer to the NSW Electoral Commission’s website

The relevant sections of legislation can be downloaded via the below links:

What are the rules around timing of election signage?

Per the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, election signage erected more than 5 weeks prior to an election is non-compliant and enforceable by the Ranger Team. However, during the 5 week election period, on election day, and for one week following election day, signage is exempt in accordance with Subdivision 13. Please see below for more information.

Subdivision 13 Election signs

2.106   Specified development

(1)  The display of any poster that contains electoral matter in relation to an election held under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 of the Commonwealth, the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 or the Local Government Act 1993 is development specified for the purposes of this code.

(2)  In this clause, electoral matter means —

(a)  any matter that is intended or calculated or likely to affect or is capable of affecting the result of an election or that is intended or calculated or likely to influence or is capable of influencing an elector in relation to the casting of his or her vote at an election, or

(b)  the name of a candidate at an election, the name of the party of any such candidate and the picture of any such candidate (including any photograph of the candidate and any drawing or printed matter that purports to depict any such candidate or to be a likeness or representation of any such candidate).

2.107   Development standards

The standards specified for that development are that the development must —

(a)  not be more than 0.8m2 in area, and

(b)  if on the site of a heritage item or draft heritage item — not be attached to a building, and

(c)  be displayed by or on behalf of a candidate at an election referred to in clause 2.106 or the party (if any) of any such candidate, and

(d)  be displayed in accordance with any relevant requirements of the Act under which the election is held, and

(e)  be displayed only during the following periods —

(i)  5 weeks immediately preceding the day on which the election is held, 

(ii)  the day on which the election is held,

(iii)  1 week immediately following the day on which the election is held.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, visit the Political Participants section of the NSW Electoral Commission website or download the Candidate Handbook hereYou can also call the Commission's Candidate Helpdesk on 1300 022 011 or email the Helpdesk at candidates@elections.nsw.gov.au.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing and/or have a speech impairment, please contact the NSW Electoral Commission through the National Relay Service (NRS). Choose your access option and ask for 1300 135 736. If you need an interpreter, please call TIS National on 131 450 and ask them to call the NSW Electoral Commission on 1300 135 736.