Countbacks, by-elections and appointments

Countbacks, by-elections and appointments are used when an elected State representative or local councillor resigns or is otherwise unable to complete their term.

When an elected State representative or local councillor resigns or is otherwise unable to complete their term, an appropriate method of selecting a person to replace them must be used.


Countbacks occur for local councils when the vacancy to be filled is:

  • in a multi-councillor ward or unsubdivided municipality and
  • there is more than one eligible candidate remaining from the general election that was not elected.

It must be six months or more until the next local council election day.

Voters do not need to vote again in a countback as the ballot papers from the previous election are used.

In a countback, votes for the vacating councillor from the last election are redistributed to unsuccessful candidates according to the voters' preferences. A candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes is declared elected. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the candidate with the least votes is excluded and their votes are also redistributed. This process continues until a candidate can be declared elected.

For more information, see the VEC's guide to the countback counting system:


When by-elections are held, only the electors in that electorate are required to vote.

A by-election occurs if:

  • a member of the State Legislative Assembly (Lower House) resigns, or
  • a councillor in a single councillor ward resigns, or
  • there are no remaining eligible candidates in a multi-member ward or unsubdivided council.

State by-elections are always attendance elections.

Council by-elections can be either postal or attendance elections and will only take place if the vacancy occurs more than six months before the next general election of council.


Appointments are only used when the position vacant is in the State Legislative Council (Upper House). The party of the vacating representative nominates a new member of the party to fill the position and this person is appointed by a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.

A vacancy in the State Upper House need not be filled if it occurs within three months of the issuing of the writ for the next State election.