NSW Election: All you need to know
IT'S the election that has snuck up on the people of NSW. With so much news and politics about, many in the state are only now waking up to the fact that they have to head to the polls this Saturday.
Not sure what's going on? Here's everything you need to know.
WHEN IS THE NSW ELECTION?
State elections must be held in NSW on the fourth Saturday of March every four years.
That means this Saturday is voting time.
Some polling booths have already opened for early voters, as have online, telephone and postal votes. But for the majority of NSW residents, Saturday from 8am to 6pm is your chance to cast your vote.
WHERE DO I VOTE?
There are 93 electorates for the NSW lower house and each of these has between 17 and 50 voting centres, so finding one near you shouldn't be a problem.
Voting booths are usually in community centres such as schools, church halls or public buildings.
To find your nearest one, click here or call the NSW Electoral Commission on 1300 135 736.
The doors to polling centres close at 6pm. Any person still in the polling place at 6pm can still vote. The counting of votes begins in the polling places as soon as the polls close.
WHAT IF A CAN'T ACCESS A VOTING CENTRE?
Don't worry. The NSW Electoral Commission has a number of options if you're not in NSW on Saturday, if you have a disability or have another reason preventing you from voting. You can vote early, online, via mail or via the telephone as long as you're eligible. Check the criteria here.
For some people in hospitals and aged care facilities, NSW Electoral Commission workers will come to you.
WHY AM I VOTING?
Australia is a representative democracy, so elections are a crucial time when you can choose your representative and hold other politicians to account. By casting your vote on Saturday, you are choosing who will represent you and your district in NSW's lower and upper houses of parliament.
NSW has a Legislative Assembly, the lower house equivalent to the federal House of Representatives, and a Legislative Council, the upper house equivalent to the federal senate.
The NSW lower house has 93 members, one for each electoral district in NSW, who sit for a four-year term.
You also need to cast a vote for a candidate or party in the upper house.
HOW DO I VOTE?
You will be given two ballot papers: a small one for the Legislative Assembly (lower house) and a large one for the Legislative Council (upper house).
To vote for the lower house, you must put a number 1 in the square next to the candidate you want to elect. You can vote for more than one by putting a number 2 next to your second choice, a number 3 next to your third choice and so on. The number of additional choices you add is up to you.
Voting for the upper house is a little more complicated.
The Legislative Council ballot paper has a thick line running across it. Political parties are written above the line, while candidates are listed individually in columns below the line.
If you want to vote for a political party rather than for individual candidates, number above the line. By doing this, you are voting for that whole group of candidates in the order listed below. You can add 2 and 3 and so on to the other political parties listed above the line.
If you want to vote for individual candidates, number at least 1 to 15 below the line.
Warning: Don't vote above and below the line on the upper house ballot paper. Your vote won't count.
WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS?
The biggest battle for seats will take place in the lower house, as parties strive to form government.
The premier of NSW is Gladys Berejiklian, a Liberal from the north shore seat of Willoughby. She's been in power since 2017, after her predecessor, Mike Baird, resigned.
Gunning for Ms Berejiklian's position is Labor's Michael Daley. He has been opposition leader since November, when his predecessor Luke Foley resigned due to sexual harassment allegations.
Polls suggest Labor and Liberal are extremely close and regional voters could decide the outcome.
WHO CAN VOTE?
Anyone 18 or over who is a NSW citizen can vote.
Permanent residents can also vote if they registered to vote before 1984.
If you haven't enrolled, you can complete what is called a declaration vote. If you're eligible and have photo ID, just turn up to a polling place on Saturday.
WILL I BE FINED IF I DON'T VOTE?
Voting is compulsory for all enrolled voters and the fine for not voting is $55. The NSW Electoral Commissioner encourages people to sign up for the free election reminder if you're at risk of forgetting.
HOW DO I UPDATE MY DETAILS?
Every time you move, you must update your address on the electoral roll. You can vote from your new address if you've lived there for at least a month.
Click here if you want to change your details. Going to this website will automatically update your information for all future local, state and federal elections.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO I GET A SAUSAGE?
After going through all the hard work of reading this, finding your voting centre and placing your vote, it's time for a reward.
Make sure you snag yourself a democracy sausage or a cake at your polling place.
You can find where to get a good sausage near you on the Democracy Sausage website, "a real-time crowdsourced map of sausage and cake availability at Australian elections. It's practically part of the Australian Constitution".