Counting process for Upper House seats

Upper House seats are counted using the proportional vote counting system. This system is used when there is more than one person to be elected.

To ensure an accurate result, counting in each Upper House region moves through various phases.

First preference (primary) count

All votes cast in a region are counted to first preference (all the number '1' votes).

During this process, we sort and count each individual ballot paper to first preference by hand.

Two types of first preference results for region ballot papers are recorded:

  • the number of first preference votes for each group marked above the line
  • the number of first preference votes for each group and ungrouped candidate marked below the line.

At the end of this sort, we tally and enter the total first preference votes for each group and ungrouped candidate, along with the total number of informal votes, in our election management system.


A recheck is an administrative process where, following a first preference sort, region ballot papers are checked again for:

  • formality
  • correct sorting to first preference
  • correct reconciliation of totals.

Region ordinary votes and early votes will be rechecked in election offices for country regions, and in metropolitan hubs for metropolitan regions.

All other votes will be rechecked at the Centralised Activity Site (CAS).

The region recheck process can be summarised as follows:

  • Above-the-line and informal votes are checked again for formality, correct sorting and correct counting. Any below-the-line ballot papers found in above-the-line or informal parcels may be added to the below-the-line papers at this stage.
  • Below-the-line votes are checked again for correct counting. These are then transferred to a centralised venue for data entry, which will check the formality of each below-the-line vote.

Rechecked figures are recorded in our election management system. These results will be progressively published on our website. It is not uncommon for minor variations in sorting and counting to be identified during the rechecking process.

Election managers can provide scrutineers with consolidated reports of rechecked results.

Data entry of below-the-line votes

Data entry of below-the-line votes will take place at the Centralised Activity Site (CAS).

We will enter the preferences marked on ballot papers that were sorted as formal below-the-line votes into our computer count system.

Ballot papers identified as informal by the data entry process will be examined and anything deemed to be a formal below-the-line vote will be added back into the count.

Any ballot papers found to be informal for below-the-line but formal above-the-line, will also be added back into the count by adjusting the rechecked above-the-line figures.

Any ballot papers found to be informal will also be added to the rechecked informal ballot paper totals.

A second data entry process will take place to verify the first data entry process.

During data entry, reports will be generated and displayed which show the progressive first preference results for each candidate.

For more information about what data will be available to scrutineers during a computer count, see the Availability of results information during electronic counting (region) document (PDF).

Preference distributions

Once data entry of all below-the-line ballot papers is completed for each region, the final reconciliation and calculation of the result using our computer count application will occur.


The declaration for each region will be conducted by the delegated region election manager at the Centralised Activity Site (CAS).

The election manager will advise candidates of the time and location of the declaration. A recount may be ordered when the result is extremely close, and it can only happen before a result has been declared.


A recount is a re-examination of ballot papers for an electorate. It can only happen before a result has been declared and usually occurs when the result is extremely close. A recount can be conducted on all ballot papers (known as a full recount) or only some of the ballot papers (known as partial recount).

The type of recount to be conducted is determined by the election manager and Electoral Commissioner.

There are 3 circumstances that can lead to a recount. A recount may occur:

  • when an election manager believes there are sufficient grounds, they can seek the permission of the Electoral Commissioner to conduct a recount
  • when the Electoral Commissioner independently directs an election manager to conduct a recount
  • because a candidate has written to an election manager to request a recount. The letter must detail the reasons for the request and the election manager will consult with the Electoral Commissioner, who will decide if the recount will go ahead.

When will there be an official result?

It will take over 2 weeks after election day to officially declare results in the Upper House, following the calculation of results in each region.

Learn more about proportional counting.