How to vote: Local council elections

Local council elections are held in October every four years.

The next council elections will be held in October 2020.

Who am I electing?

At local council elections, you elect people to represent your local municipality. The number of councillors you elect and the municipality's electoral structure are determined by the Minister for Local Government.

Each municipality in Victoria must have a council consisting of between 5 and 12 councillors. For most municipalities, once the required number of councillors has been elected, these councillors decide which one of them will act as mayor.

Voters in the City of Melbourne (external link) also elect a Leadership Team consisting of the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor.

How do I vote in a local council election?

Local council elections can be conducted by postal voting or attendance voting. Each council chooses the method that will be used. In most cases, councils use postal voting with ballot material being sent to voters in early October. Where a council chooses attendance voting election day will be Saturday 24 October. The method of voting is noted in all advertising and will be clearly identified on this website as early as possible.

To vote correctly in a council election you must number every box on the ballot paper in the order of your choice. This is because council elections use the full preferential voting.

Because the City of Melbourne must elect both a leadership team as well as regular councillors, two ballot papers are used. The leadership team is elected using the full preferential voting system. The remaining councillor positions are determined using above or below the line voting.

  • If you choose to vote above the line, you must only place a 1 in the box above the group you want to support. When voting above the line your ballot paper will be counted using preferences determined by the group you have selected.
  • If you choose to vote below the line, you must place a 1 against your most preferred candidate and then number all the other boxes below the line according to your preference.

Can I vote for multiple properties?

No matter how many entitlements you have within any one local council area, you are entitled to be enrolled for one vote for each council that you have an entitlement.

Voting entitlements are also hierarchical, so if you own or occupy multiple properties within a council, you must be enrolled under the first entitlement category that applies to you. If you have a number of properties within a council area under the same entitlement category, you may nominate which property you wish to be enrolled for. If it is an automatic entitlement and you do not nominate which property to express the entitlement, the council may do this for you by comparing the value of each property.

For further information, refer to the voting entitlements prescribed by the Local Government Act 1989. Voting entitlements for Melbourne City Councils under the City of Melbourne Act 2001 are slightly different, but a person is still only entitled to one vote in Melbourne City Council elections, no matter how many voting entitlements you have within the City of Melbourne.

Who are my local councillors?

Details about currently elected councillors can be accessed through individual council profiles.

What is the timeline for a local election?

Time Event
57 days before election day Entitlement date

People must be on the State or local council roll by this date to be eligible to vote at the election.

32 days before election day Close of nominations

Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate must be nominated by 12 noon, 32 days before election day.

17-19 days before election day Ballot packs are distributed (postal elections)

Ballot packs are distributed via post to every enrolled person in a random order over three days. No more than 35% of the ballot packs can be distributed on any one day.

1 day before election day Close of voting (postal elections)

In postal elections, ballot papers must be in the mail or in the hands of the Returning Officer by 6.00 pm on the day before election day.

Election day

In attendance elections, voters cast their votes on this day. This day must be the fourth Saturday in October.