Postal or electronic ballots

What is a postal or electronic ballot?

If the constitution permits, a postal ballot or electronic ballot is a convenient method for voting on a resolution, where members are geographically dispersed or have difficulty attending a meeting.

Refer to Schedule 3 of the Associations Incorporation Regulation 2016 (the Regulation) for information on how to run a postal or electronic ballot.

What types of resolution can a postal or electronic ballot determine?

A postal or electronic ballot can determine a resolution, permitted by the constitution.

If an association adopts the Model Constitution, a postal or electronic ballot can be used to determine any resolution, other than an appeal by a disciplined member. Go to the Resolutions page for more information.

What is the role of the committee?

The committee must:

  • appoint a returning officer
  • set out the details of the ballot proposal in a statement, including if it is a special resolution
  • set a date for forwarding of postal ballot papers or the giving of access to electronic ballot papers
  • set a closing date for the ballot.

Who can be the returning officer and what do they do?

The returning officer:

  • may be a member of the association
  • may be a non-member of the association
  • must not be a committee member.

The returning officer conducts the ballot on behalf of the association.

The returning officer may appoint a person who is eligible to be a returning officer to assist with the ballot.

What is the role of the returning officer in postal voting?

The returning officer must prepare a roll of the full names and addresses of the members of the association who are eligible to vote and ballot papers that contain:

  • instructions for completing the voting paper
  • the question to be determined, and
  • a box opposite and to the left of each question.

The returning officer must ensure the following documents are sent to members at least 14 days (or 21 days for a special resolution) before the closing date:

  • one ballot paper
  • a notice describing how the ballot paper must be completed, the closing date of the ballot and the address where the ballot paper is to be returned, and
  • a returning envelope addressed to the returning officer and noted or printed with the member’s name and address on the reverse side, and
  • if the ballot is a secret ballot, an envelope marked ‘voting paper’.

The returning officer must also:

  • compare the information on each returning envelope with the information on the voting roll to confirm that the vote was cast by a member entitled to vote
  • ensure the ballot papers are kept safe until the counting of the votes begins.

How do members vote in a postal ballot?

Once members have received information about the ballot, they follow these steps:

If the ballot is not a secret ballot, the member should:

  • mark the ballot paper, according to the instructions provided
  • enclose and seal the ballot paper in the returning envelope addressed to the returning officer
  • return the envelope to the returning officer by post or by personal delivery so that it is received no later than the close of the ballot.

If the ballot is a secret ballot, the member should:

  • mark the ballot paper according to the instructions provided
  • enclose and seal the ballot paper in the envelope marked ‘voting paper’
  • enclose and seal that envelope in the returning envelope addressed to the returning officer, and
  • return the envelope to the returning officer by post or by personal delivery so that it is received no later than the close of the ballot.

What is the role of the returning officer in electronic voting?

Electronic voting can be by email, accessing a voting website or other electronic means determined by the committee.

The returning officer must prepare a roll of the full names and addresses of the members of the association who are eligible to vote and ensure that the form for the electronic ballot paper contains:

  • instructions for completing the voting paper
  • the question to be determined
  • the means of indicating the member’s choice on the question to be determined.

The returning officer must ensure that at least 14 days (or 21 days in the case of a special resolution) before the date fixed for the closing of the ballot, each person entitled to vote is given:

  • access to an electronic ballot paper or to a voting website or electronic application containing an electronic ballot paper
  • access to information about:
  • how the ballot paper must be completed
  • the closing date of the ballot
  • if voting is by email, the address for returning the ballot paper
  • if voting is by other electronic means, the method of accessing the electronic voting system and how the completed electronic ballot paper is to be sent to the returning officer
  • ensure that if the ballot paper is a secret ballot, the identity of the voter cannot be ascertained from the form of the electronic ballot paper
  • ensure that all electronic ballot papers are kept safe until counting of the votes begins.

How do members vote in an electronic ballot?

Members entitled to vote must follow the instructions provided. These instructions will vary depending on whether the voting is by accessing an electronic ballot paper or a voting website.

An electronic ballot paper must be sent to the returning officer no later than the close of the ballot.

How are the votes counted?

After the closing date of a postal ballot, the returning officer will:

  • open envelopes marked ‘voting paper’ in the case of a secret ballot, and remove the ballot papers
  • in the case of any ballot, reject as informal any ballot papers that do not comply with the instructions, and
  • count the votes that are not rejected.

After the closing date of an electronic ballot, the returning officer will:

  • review all information and reports about the electronic ballot
  • reject as informal any vote that does not comply with the instructions, and
  • ascertain the results of the electronic ballot.

The returning officer will prepare a signed statement setting out the result of the ballot.

The committee must record the result of the ballot in the minutes.

The committee chairperson will announce the result at the next general meeting.

In the case of a special resolution, the association must notify members of the result, in writing, as soon as practicable.

When will a ballot paper or electronic vote be rejected as informal?

A ballot paper will be rejected as informal if a voter has failed to record a vote in accordance with the information or instructions provided.

However, if in the opinion of the returning officer the voter’s intention is clearly indicated on the ballot paper, it may not be declared as informal.

If voting is carried out by electronic voting using a voting website or other electronic application (but not if voting is by email), the website or application is to provide a warning message to the voter that the proposed vote is informal.

What happens to the returned ballot papers?

The returning officer must retain the roll, ballot papers and rejected returning envelopes relating to postal voting and all records relating to electronic voting once counting has finished.

The returning officer must retain the documents in secure storage for a minimum period of 8 weeks. The committee may direct a longer period.

When will a resolution pass?

An ordinary resolution requires a simple majority of formal votes (ie. 50% plus 1).

A special resolution requires at least three-quarters of the valid votes cast.

Need more information?

Registry Services

PO Box 22
Bathurst NSW 2795
Tel: 02 6333 1400
FreeCall: 1800 502 042
Email: registryinquiries@finance.nsw.gov.au

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