For the 2015 ABG General Election, counting of the ballot papers will be held at three regional count centres:
- Hutjena High School, Hutjena – counting for the Presidential seat and the North regional and constituency seats
- Sharp Memorial Centre, Arawa – counting for the Central regional and constituency seats
- United Church, Buin – counting for the South regional and constituency seats
How counting takes place
The below process is followed for each constituency, regional women’s, regional former combatant and the presidential elections.
1. On the first day, Tuesday 26 May 2015, the counting officials will open the ballot boxes in order to sort the ballot papers by type. This is so that when the counting of the ballots occurs, they are already grouped together.
2. The Special Votes (the votes in the envelopes) will then be examined to identify whether the ballots are eligible to be included in the count.
3. The counting officials will then go through the ‘reconciliation’ process, which checks that the ballot boxes contain the correct number of ballot papers.
4. Presidential ballot papers will be packaged up and transferred to the Presidential counting centre.
5. Following this, the scrutiny of the preferences will begin. The first sort involves the ballot papers being sorted into piles based on their first preference. The pile of votes is then counted to determine the number of first preference votes each candidate received.
Note: At this point, if a candidate receives the Absolute Majority, the count will be completed and await formal declaration by the Returning Officer. If not, the exclusion process commences.
6. The candidate who received the least amount of first preference votes is then ‘excluded’ from the count, meaning they are no longer in the running to win the seat. The ballot papers for the excluded candidate are then sorted based on their second preferences. So these additional ballot papers add to the number of votes the other candidates have won.
Note: The exclusion of candidates continues until one candidate either receives the Absolute Majority, or only two candidates remain in the count. Following either of these, the count will be completed and await formal declaration by the Returning Officer. The Activity: Understanding LPV provides guidance on how the exclusion process works.
At the counting centre
The process of counting is complex and takes time. It is important that each step is followed correctly to ensure that the candidate who wins is the candidate that was voted for. This means the process takes time.
The counting will take place around the clock with multiple shifts of counting officials each day. There are a number of groups inside the counting centre:
- Counting officials- with the responsibility of sorting and counting
- Returning Officers- managing the counting officials, with overall responsibility for their area
- OBEC advisors- a group of Australian and New Zealand advisors will be there to provide support and guidance following a request for support from the Acting Electoral Commissioner
- Scrutineers- one scrutineer per candidate can be at the counting centre to watch the process and provide quality assurance by alerting the Returning Officer if they see anything of concern
- Observers- international and domestic observers who are there following an invitation by the Acting Electoral Commissioner to observe the process as part of a commitment to transparency.