Glossary Read this page in Easy English

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Content Definition
2CP Short for 'two candidate preferred'
2PP Short for 'two party preferred'
Absent votes A vote cast at a voting centre by an elector who is outside his/her district on election day.
Absolute majority More than 50% of the formal votes in an electorate.
Ballot A method of secret voting.
Ballot box The sealed container into which an elector places a completed ballot paper.
Ballot paper The paper on which a vote is marked. The ballot paper shows the candidates' names and party affiliation, if any. It also contains voting instructions.
By-election A by-election is an election in a single district to fill a casual vacancy caused by the departure of a sitting Member of Parliament before the Member's term expires.
Candidate A candidate is an eligible elector who nominates for election to the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council.
Compulsory enrolment If you are 18 years or over and an Australian citizen you are required by law to enrol.
Compulsory voting All electors must vote at State and local council elections. There is a penalty of half a penalty unit for failing to vote without a valid reason.
Constitution The set of basic rules by which a country or state is governed. In Victoria, the Constitution Act 1975 sets out the structure of state politics. Some parts of the Constitution such as provisions relating to the number of seats and the term of Parliament can only be amended through a referendom of Victorian voters. Other parts require a 3/5 majority of both Houses to be amanded. Other parts again require an absolute majority of each House.
Court of Disputed Returns The Supreme Court sits as the Court of Disputed Returns when it hears a petition disputing an election result. It has jurisdiction to try cases in which the validity of an election or return is in dispute. The jurisdiction may be exercised by a single judge.
Countback Method of filling extraordinary vacancies in multi-member wards, ridings and unsubdivided municipalities where the results of the general election were obtained using the proportional representation method. The votes of the vacating Councillor are transferred to the previously unelected candidates to fill the vacancy.
Declaration of the result The announcement by the election manager of the result of the election and the name of the candidate elected.
Declaration votes Votes which require a written declaration by the voter. There are several types of declaration vote: postal votes, absent votes, unenrolled votes and votes by electorate where name on the roll has already been marked.
Democracy Government by the people usually through elected representatives.
Distribution of preferences The process used to determine the winning candidate in a State or local council election for a single vacancy when no candidate wins an absolute majority of first preference votes.
District One of the 88 Legislative Assembly electorates.
Donkey vote The term used to describe a ballot paper marked with preferences for candidates without consideration of their policies or abilities. A classic donkey vote is one which records preferences straight down the ballot paper in the same order as the names printed.
Early voting Electors who are unable to vote on election day can vote beforehand at an early voting centre.
Election The choosing of representatives by the voters.
Election day The day voters cast their votes.
Election manager A person appointed by the Electoral Commissioner to conduct an election for an electoral district or region.
Election office An office from which an election is conducted. A single office may conduct elections for up to three districts and a region.
Elector A person whose name appears on the register of electors and who is entitled to vote in elections.
Electoral Commissioner The statutory officer appointed by the Governor-in-Council with responsibility for the proper conduct of Parliamentary elections.
Electoral roll A list of the names of all the people who are entitled to vote in an election.
Electorate An area represented by one or more members of parliament. Also, the total body of electors within such an area.
Enfranchise To give a person the right to vote.
Enrolment The placement of one's name and address on the register of electors. You cannot vote at an election unless you are enrolled. Australian citizens over 18 years of age (with a few exceptions) must enrol to vote.
Enrolment form An application to enrol to vote or to change your enrolment address. Click here to print an enrolment form (PDF, 616kB). Enrolment forms are also available at all post offices, the VEC and the AEC.
First past the post A voting system in which the candidate with the most votes is elected whether or not that person has more than half the votes counted. This system is used in many countries including the UK, USA, and Canada.
Formal vote A vote cast in an election that has been marked according to the rules for that election. A vote not marked correctly is an informal vote.
Franchise The right to vote.
General election An election for all the seats in both Houses of Parliament.
General Postal Voter (GPV) A voter who has difficulty getting to a voting centre on election day can register as a GPV. GPVs include people with a disability, prisoners, those in remote communities and people who are 70 or over. After the close of nominations for an election, GPVs are sent postal ballot papers and certificate envelopes.
Gerrymander The drawing of electoral boundaries in a way which gives one political party an unfair advantage in elections.
Governor in Council The formal meeting of the Governor and the Executive Council.
Government The political party or coalition of parties which has won a majority of support in the Lower House (Legislative Assembly) forms the Government. The Premier and the Leader of the Opposition are always Members of the Lower House.
Group Candidates standing for election to the Upper House (Legislative Council) can join together in groups. Groups are separated from other candidates on the ballot paper. Candidates endorsed by a registered political party will be in a group. Independent candidates groups.
Group voting ticket A group of candidates standing for election to the Upper House (Legislative Council) can register up to three group voting tickets with the VEC. A group that has lodged a group voting ticket will receive a square "above the line" on the ballot paper. If a voter votes for a group above the line, the preferences will be allocated according to the group voting ticket.
How-to-vote cards Cards handed out to voters by party supporters at voting centres showing how a party or candidate would like voters to fill in their ballot papers. In Victoria, how-to-vote cards handed out within 400 metres of a voting centre on election day must be registered by the VEC.
Independent A candidate or elected Member of Parliament who has no political party affiliations.
Informal vote A ballot paper which is either left blank or is incorrectly marked. These ballot papers are excluded from the count and therefore do not contribute to the election of a candidate.
Legislative Assembly
(Lower House)
One of the two houses in State Parliament. There are 88 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), one from each district. The party or coalition of parties that wins majority support in this House forms the Government.
Legislative Council (Upper House) One of the two houses in State Parliament. There are 40 Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs), five from each region. The Legislative Council is often refered to as the "house of review".
Lower House The Lower House is an alternative name for the State Legislative Assembly.
Malapportionment The situation which arises when there are large differences in the number of voters in different electorates.
Member Any person elected to Parliament.
Mobile voting centre Mobile voting facilities are provided to assist electors in such places as hospitals and nursing homes to cast a vote. The voting is mobile because election officials move around the premises, taking portable ballot boxes and voting compartments directly to patients.
Municipality A region administered by its own local government.
No fixed address elector A person who does not reside in any district, but whose name has been placed on the register of electors.
Nomination The process by which a person becomes a candidate at an election.
One vote, one value The principle of providing fair representation for all voters by ensuring the number of electors within each electorate is as equal as possible. The VEC achieves this through its electoral representation reviews.
Opinion poll A survey of the opinions of voters.
Opposition The party, or coalition of parties in Parliament which has the next highest number of seats after the Government.
Ordinary vote A vote cast at a voting centre in the elector's home district on election day.
Overseas elector An elector who is going overseas for six years or less can apply to be an overseas elector either before leaving Australia, or while overseas.
Parliament The political assembly in which elected representatives debate and vote upon proposed laws. The word 'parliament' comes from 15th century English, and from a French word meaning 'talking place'.
Parliamentary democracy A system of government where the people exercise their political power by electing representatives to Parliament to make laws. Victoria is a parliamentary democracy.
Platform The policies or plans that the candidates and parties say they will carry out if elected.
Political party A group of people with similar ideas or aims, some of whose members nominate as candidates at elections in the hope that they will be elected to parliament. A political party can register with the Victorian Electoral Commission for State elections. This enables party names to appear on the ballot paper, and facilitates nominations and registration of how-to-vote cards.
Postal voters Voters who for various reasons cannot attend a voting centre on election day can apply to cast a postal vote.
Preferential voting A vote for all candidates in order of preference. If no candidate has an absolute majority of first preference votes, preferences are distributed until one candidate has an absolute majority. This system of voting is used for the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, for the House of Representatives in Federal elections, and for the Lower House in most other states.
Preselection The choice by a political party of its candidates for an election.
Proportional representation A system of voting designed to elect representatives in proportion to the amount of support each has in the electorate. Variations of this system are used in the Commonwealth Senate, in most other states, and in many other countries. Multi-vacancy Municipal electorates began using this system in 2004. From the 2006 State election, this system is also being used in elections for Victoria's Legislative Council (Upper House).
Provisional enrolment A 17 year old Australian citizen may apply for provisional enrolment to enable him or her to vote if they attain the age of 18 in the period between the close of rolls and election day.
Recheck A recheck is a normal procedure undertaken by an election manager before a preference count is conducted. All ballot papers are re-examined and counted again. Scrutineers are entitled to be present and should be aware of any corrected figures before a preference count is commenced. (This term should not be confused with the term "recount").
Recount A re-examination and count of all formal and informal ballot papers by an election manager before the declaration of the result. A recount does not include a re-examination of declarations of postal, absent and unenrolled voters.
Redivision The redrawing of electoral boundaries to ensure that there are, as near as possible, equal numbers of voters in each electorate within Victoria.
Referendum A proposal to alter the Constitution, put to the vote.
Region From the 2006 State election, there are 8 regions for the Legislative Council. Each region returns 5 members.
Register of electors The VEC's database of all Victorian electors.
Representative A person elected to Parliament to represent the people of a district or region.
Scrutineer A person appointed by a candidate to observe voting and the scrutiny and count of ballot papers to satisfy their candidate that the poll was conducted strictly in accordance with the law.
Scrutiny The checking and counting of ballot papers to ascertain the result of an election.
Seat A seat in a Parliament held by an elected Member. Can also refer to a Member's electorate.
Secret ballot A vote made in secret - first introduced in Victoria in 1856. Sometimes called the 'Australian ballot'.
Silent elector An elector who believes that having their name on the roll will place their personal safety or that of members of their family at risk can apply to have their address not shown on the roll.
Spoilt vote An informal vote.
Suffrage The right to vote at elections. All Australian citizens 18 or over have suffrage.
Swing The difference between the performance of a candidate or party at one election in comparison to a previous election.
Swinging voter A voter who does not have a steady pattern of voting for the same party.
Tally Room Location where election results are displayed on election night.
Turnout The percentage of enrolled electors who voted.
Two candidate preferred (2CP) A distribution of preferences to the two candidates who are expected to come first and second in the election. Usually, but not always, these will be the candidates representing the ALP and the Liberal or National Parties.
Two party preferred (2PP) A distribution of preferences where, by convention, comparisons are made between the ALP and the leading Liberal/National candidates. In seats where the final two candidates are not from the ALP and the Liberal or National parties, a two party preferred count may be conducted to find the result of preference flows to the ALP and the Liberal/National candidates.
Upper House The Upper House is an alternative name for the State Legislative Council.
Victorian Electoral Commission The agency established in 1995 to maintain and update the Victorian State electoral roll and conduct State and other non-parliamentary elections. The Victorian Electoral Commission was previously named the State Electoral Office.
Vote The formal act of a voter in an election to choose the candidate the voter most wants to be the representative for that electorate. Australia has a secret vote, and enforces compulsory voting.
Voters All those people entitled to vote at an election. Also called "electors".
Voters Roll The electoral roll.
Voting Booth Also known as a voting screen, voting booths are usually made from cardboard and are used to help keep your vote secret by restricting the view of other people.
Voting Centre A place at which electors can vote in an election. There are three types in State elections:
  • early voting centres
  • mobile voting centres
  • election day voting centres
Voting screen/compartment A small compartment at the voting centre where people fill in their ballot papers in secret at elections.