Your vote for the Hepburn Shire council election has to be in the mail or in the ballot box at the election office, 1/26 Vincent St, by 6.00pm today, Friday, October 23.

Postal votes will be delivered to the election office in Daylesford. They are accepted up until 12 noon on Friday, 30 October, but they will only be counted as formal if they were in the mail by 6.00pm on Friday, 23 October, 2020.

Staff at the local office will begin counting the votes the first week in November. All the votes are scanned to ensure that no duplicates have been cast, which may be more likely this election because some ballots were spoiled by rain.

There are two counting methods used for local council elections: preferential counting and proportional counting. Elections for single councillor wards use the preferential counting method, but elections for multi-councillor wards use the proportional counting method.

In Birch ward, two councillors will be elected which means that the proportional counting system will apply.

The proportional system is complex, so it is carried out by computer rather than manually. To be elected, a candidate has to receive a proportion of votes known as a quota. In Birch, the quota is one third plus one of the formal votes.

Candidates who receive the quota are elected and any votes they receive over the quota are distributed to other candidates according to preferences.

If no candidate achieves the quota, or if there are still vacancies to be filled once all votes over the quota have been distributed, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. Their votes are distributed to other candidates according to preferences. This will be  repeated until two people have quotas.

When will we know the result?

A provisional result will be posted to the VEC website when counting has been completed.

All being well, the final result is declared two hours after the provisional result is posted. The delay gives candidates an opportunity to consider the result and ask for a recount or the Election Manager may initiate a recount if the results are very close.

In non-COVID times, election results are due two weeks after election day but this year the deadline has been extended to Friday, 13 November. However, the Election Manager at our local office believes that Hepburn Shire Council results may well be available before that date.

So you might like to add the VEC website address to your favourites and check regularly from 6 November.