Information for Candidates and Groups

Information for Candidates and Groups
These are the several steps to becoming a candidate at the election. These are the several steps to becoming a candidate at the election.  

Becoming a candidate

These are the several steps to becoming a candidate at the election. Depending on your circumstances you may not need to follow these steps in order or complete all steps. Please read the details under each step to see which steps apply to you and the relevant deadlines under each step below. 

Manage and record your campaign finances throughout the entire election period

Familiarise yourself with the election processes and your legal obligations

If you are considering becoming a candidate we recommend you understand the processes that are involved in becoming a candidate and the laws that apply to how you campaign and raise and spend money campaigning.

There are strict laws and deadlines that must be followed when you are a candidate. These laws and deadlines relate to:

  • Being nominated as a candidate and/or forming a group
  • Registering for the election so you can start campaigning
  • Producing and distributing electoral material
  • Accepting political donations and/or incurring electoral expenditure

Contact the NSW Electoral Commission in writing Or via phone during business hours on 1300 135 736

Register as a candidate or group to start campaigning

Before accepting political donations or making payments for electoral expenditure a candidate or group must be registered for the election. Accepting political donations includes raising funds through fundraisers. Electoral expenditure is any expenditure that promotes or opposes a political party or candidate or influences the vote at the election.

If you do not intend to accept political donations or make payments for electoral expenditure you do not need to apply to be registered. We will register you once you are nominated as a candidate for the election.

Being registered as a candidate or group for the election is a separate process to being nominated to have your name included on a ballot paper (See step 4 for details on the nomination process).

Registrations for the elections are now open and close on Wednesday, 4 August 2021.
Find out more about registering as a candidate or group to start campaigning
Apply to be registered as a candidate by submitting this form:
EF.729 Application for registration of a candidate for a local government election
Apply to be registered as a group and to register the candidates in the group by submitting this form:
EF.732 Application for registration of a group of candidates for a local government election
The details of registered candidates and groups are included in a publicly available register.
Once registered, if your registered details change you must let us know within 30 days by submitting this form:
EF.740 Notice of change of registered particulars

Manage and record your campaign finances throughout the entire election period

All candidates at the election, including candidates in a group, are personally responsible for the management, recording and disclosure of their own political donations and electoral expenditure.

The lead candidate of a group is responsible for managing, recording and disclosing the political donations and electoral expenditure of the group.
All candidates and groups can accept political donations and incur electoral expenditure once registered (See step 2 for the registration process).

There are strict rules that apply to accepting political donations and incurring electoral expenditure. These rules are enforced by us so ensure you are aware of, and understand, your legal obligations.

There are caps on political donations which means a candidate or group can only accept a certain amount from a person or entity in a financial year. Find out more about the political donation caps.

There are caps on electoral expenditure incurred between Tuesday, 1 July 2021 and election day, Saturday, 4 September 2021 which means a candidate or group can only incur a certain amount of electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period. Find out more about the expenditure caps that apply to your local government area or ward and the rules that apply to expenditure caps.

A candidate, including a candidate in a group, must open and operate a campaign account before accepting $1,000 or more in political donations or incurring $1,000 or more in electoral expenditure.

The lead candidate of a group must open and operate a campaign account before the group accepts $1,000 or more in political donations or incurs $1,000 or more in electoral expenditure.

The campaign account must be used to pay for electoral expenditure and deposit political donations that are used to pay for that expenditure.
Each candidate, including a candidate in a group, is responsible for properly recording the political donations they receive and any electoral expenditure they incur. The lead candidate of a group is responsible for properly recording political donations received by the group and electoral expenditure incurred by the group.

Find out more about when and how to operate a campaign account and how to keep proper records.

Candidate nominations

To have your name included on a ballot paper you must be nominated as a candidate for the election.  
To be nominated as a candidate for an election in a local government area or ward you must be enrolled to vote in the local government area by 6pm Monday, 26 July 2021.

The nomination period starts on Monday, 26 July 2021 and ends 12 noon, Wednesday, 4 August 2021.
You may be nominated by either:

  • a registered political party; or
  • two electors.

If nominated by two electors the electors must be enrolled in the local government area or ward for which you are being nominated. For example, if you are being nominated as a candidate for election to a ward your electors must be enrolled in that ward.

Candidates who wish to form a group may request to have their names included in a group on the ballot paper in the order of their choosing. They may also request a group voting square on the ballot paper. Group members and the order of candidates in the group must be confirmed by the close of nominations at 12 noon on Wednesday, 4 August 2021.

Candidate nominations can be made online. The system will be available for use prior to the start of the nomination period, to allow time for you to prepare your nomination and group forms prior to lodgement during the nomination period.

A list of all nominated candidates will be published on the NSW Electoral Commission’s website as and when candidate nominations are accepted.

For further information regarding the nomination process, please refer to section 8 of the Candidate Handbook (Available in early 2021).
Note: Being nominated as a candidate for the election is a separate process to being registered as a candidate. The purpose of registering for the election is to be able to accept political donations and make payments for electoral expenditure (See step 2 for the registration process).

Registration of electoral material (“how-to-votes”) to distribute on election day

All electoral material that is to be distributed on election day by political parties, groups, candidates, and any other persons or organisations, must be registered with the Electoral Commissioner. This includes any material that is handed out or left in a position to indicate it is for collection by the public. The following types of electoral material do not need to be registered:
Posters or corflutes displayed on election day or pre poll
Any items distributed outside of election day 

From Monday, 26 July 2021 to 6pm on election day Saturday, 4 September 2021 all electoral material must meet the requirements of the legislation. For information on the legislative requirements for electoral material please refer to section 15 of the Candidate Handbook (Available in early 2021).

Applications to register electoral material can be made online using the Registration of Electoral Material system which opens Thursday, 5 August 2021 and closes 5pm Friday, 27 August 2021.

Electoral material approved for distribution on election day is published on the NSW Electoral Commission's website

Disclose political donations and electoral expenditure

Political donations and electoral expenditure must be disclosed to the NSW Electoral Commission and disclosures are made publicly available.

Political donations made and received by candidates and groups must be disclosed every six-months. The half-yearly disclosure periods end 31 December and 30 June. Electoral expenditure must be disclosed by candidates and groups annually. The annual disclosure period ends 30 June.

Each candidate is responsible for disclosing their own political donations and electoral expenditure. This applies to candidates who are in a group as well as ungrouped candidates.

The lead candidate of each group is responsible for disclosing the group’s political donations and electoral expenditure. Disclosures made by a lead candidate on behalf of a group are in addition to disclosures that must be made by each candidate in the group.

Candidates and groups are required to make disclosures from the time they are registered or nominated for the election up to, and including, the relevant disclosure period ending 30 June 2022.

For example, if a candidate is registered for the election on 15 June 2021, the candidate is required to make disclosures for the relevant disclosure periods ending 30 June 2021, 31 December 2021 and 30 June 2022.

Candidates who are elected at the election are known under electoral funding laws as ‘elected members’. Elected members must submit disclosures every six months for the term of their appointment to civic office. Elected members who are also candidates at the same time must submit elected member disclosures as well as candidate disclosures. If an elected member is also the lead candidate of a group the elected member must also submit a group disclosure form.
The disclosure requirements are strictly enforced by us as it is a criminal offence to fail to submit a disclosure on time.  

Currently disclosures are made using paper forms. We are currently developing an online system for making disclosures. More information about the online system will be made available closer to the election.

Find out more about how and when to make disclosures.