Chapter 4 - Elections for the Senate

Counting the vote

At the close of the poll each polling place becomes a counting centre under the control of an assistant returning officer who will have been the officer-in-charge of that polling place during the hours of polling.

Only ordinary votes (not postal, pre-poll or absentee votes) are counted at the counting centres on election night. Votes for the House of Representatives are counted before Senate ballot papers, as there is usually considerable time before the Senate terms begin. Ballot papers are sorted by the polling officials according to the formal first preference votes marked and the results are then tabulated and sent to the Divisional Returning Officer. Results are relayed through a computer network to the National Tally Room in Canberra where progressive figures are displayed on the tally board and on computer terminals. When scrutiny of ordinary votes at each counting centre ends, ballot papers are placed in sealed parcels and delivered to the Divisional Returning Officer. Other votes are counted at the office of the Divisional Returning Officer after election night. (See supplement)

Candidates may appoint scrutineers who are entitled to be present throughout the counting of votes. The number of scrutineers for a candidate at each counting centre is limited to the number of officers engaged in the counting.

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