Voters in New South Wales will soon go to the polls in the biggest state election in the country.
Here is everything you need to know.
When is it?
NSW elections take place every four years, on the fourth Saturday in March. This year, it is due to be held on Saturday 25 March.
Can I vote early?
Pre-polling opens on Saturday 18 March, with locations available in each district via the NSW Electoral Commission website.
Of note is the eligibility criteria for pre-polling, which includes if you are working on election day, have religious rituals, will be travelling, in a correctional facility or are a carer.
How do I cast a vote?
There are two ballot papers at the NSW election, one for the upper house and one for the lower house.
The smaller paper is for the lower house, so you’re voting “1” for who you want to be your local member. You can then direct preferences to the other candidates in order of preference if you want to.
The second ballot paper is much larger and is for the upper house. The upper house has 42 members on eight-year terms, with half the seats on offer at every election.
On an upper house ballot paper, you can vote “above the line” and number boxes by parties or groups, or individually pick your votes from among the many candidates across the state.
NSW works on an optional preferential system, meaning once you have voted 1 for your preferred candidate, it’s up to you how many more preferences you fill out.
Where can I vote?
Locations for both pre-polling and voting on election day are available on the NSW Electoral Commission website, linked here.
Can I postal vote?
Postal votes are available in the NSW election this year for those with circumstances that would make it difficult to vote at a voting centre.
You can apply for a postal vote on the NSW Electoral Commission website, available here, with applications closing on 5pm Monday.
To be counted, the postal vote must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission no later than 6pm on the 12th day after election day.
Who is running?
This election is largely a contest between the Coalition, led by incumbent premier Dominic Perrottet, who is attempting to keep his government in power for a record fourth term, and Labor, led by Chris Minns.
Minns is the fourth Labor leader attempting to win government since they were ejected from office in 2011.
The NSW parliament lower house is also home to a sizeable crossbench of independents and MPs from smaller parties. Nine crossbenchers won election in 2019, with more tipped to join them this year. The current crossbench consists of three Greens, three members of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party (who are now independents) and three other independents, including Greg Piper and Alex Greenwich.
Former Liberal minister Gareth Ward has also decided to contest this election as an independent. Other independents running include Karen Freyer in Vaucluse, Larissa Penn in Willoughby and Michael Regan in Wakehurst.
There are five so-called “teal” independents running at this state election, including Helen Conway in the North Shore, Jacqui Scruby in Pittwater, Judy Hannan in Wollondilly, Victoria Davidson in Lane Cove and Joeline Hackman in Manly.
The Climate 200-backed candidates are hoping to join the six teal independent wins that helped shape the federal election last year.
Could the election result in a hung parliament?
With a larger number of independents running and hoping to hurt the incumbent government’s chances, there is a high likelihood the election will result in a hung parliament, with neither party able to form majority government.
Both Labor and the Coalition require 47 seats to win government, with the Coalition currently sitting on 45 seats, and Labor on 38. It is highly likely the Greens will back Labor to form government, but it could still fall short.
If both parties fall short, they will both need to enter negotiations with the crossbench.
The Coalition has technically been in minority government since 2021, when MPs John Sidoti and Gareth Ward moved to the crossbench, while Andrew Constance resigned and Labor picked up his seat in a byelection.
What do the polls say?
Polls currently have Labor in a very narrow lead.
While it is important to note that polls should always be taken with a pinch of salt, Newspoll has Labor ahead by one point, 36%-37%. In the two-party-preferred vote, Labor lead the Coalition 52-48.
Resolve also has Labor ahead on 38% while the Coalition has slipped to 32%, while Roy Morgan polls have Labor ahead 33.5% to 32.5%. Morgan’s two-party-preferred vote has Minns ahead 54%-46%, giving Labor the swing necessary to win a majority.
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