Preferential Voting in Single Member Electorates - Commonwealth

Electoral Authority: Australian Electoral Commission
Parliament which uses Preferential Voting House of Representatives (Lower House)
Name of Preferential Voting system Full preferential
Formality/Informality points Formal

  • A ballot paper is formal if it has a number "1" marked on it and has consecutive preferences for the remaining candidates.
  • A ballot paper may still be formal if one square is left blank provided it is marked as above and the vacant square is the voter's last preference.


  • If the ballot paper is not authenticated by the initials of the presiding officer or by an official mark.
  • If the ballot paper is not marked at all.
  • If ticks or crosses have been used.
  • If the ballot paper is marked in a manner that identifies the voter.
  • If a duplication of numbers or a break of consecutive numbering occurs or two or more preferences are omitted.
Directions on the Ballot Paper (2007 Federal election)

Number the boxes from "1" to "N" (where N equals the number of candidates) in the order of your choice.

Remember… number every box to make your vote count.

Additional instructions are contained on postal ballot papers "Fold the ballot paper, place it in the envelope addressed to the Divisional Returning officer and fasten the envelope."
Casual Vacancies By-elections are held to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives resulting from death, resignation, absence without leave, expulsion, disqualification or ineligibility of a Member.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has the power to issue a writ for the election of a new Member. There is no prescribed time period for the issuing of writs following a vacancy but it is not customary to hold a by-election if a general election is pending.

Related Commonwealth electoral information