Here are the key dates and information, including dates and links to candidate profiles, for the forthcoming local government elections in the Ballarat Council area.
When are they taking place?
October this year. The official election date is October 24, but the process takes place over a few weeks across the month due to it being a postal vote.
So how does that work?
For the first time, council elections are by postal vote right across the state. The system was already in place in Ballarat previously, but it is now being used Victoria-wide - partly to make it easier for elections to take place during a pandemic.
Ballot papers will be sent out to voters in the first full week of October - between Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 October.
Note you will need to be on the electoral roll to vote. Registration closed on August 28.
When do I need to vote by?
You need to get your ballot in the post at the latest by 6pm on Friday October 23, 2020, or hand-delivered to the local election office by the same time.
Who is being voted in?
The structure of the Ballarat council will be exactly the same as it is now. There are currently three wards - north, south and central - each of which will be represented by three councillors, making a nine-person council in total.
I thought there were going to be one-councillor wards?
There are - but not yet. They have already been introduced in some local government areas, but Ballarat will wait until 2024 before these become the system for our local government.
OK. So which ward am I in?
There are three wards, North, Central and South. If you are unsure of where you are, see the map of the ward boundaries here.
See latest information on candidates in your ward here:
I want to stand for election. What do I have to do?
The Victorian Electoral commission has full details on the process, including mandatory candidate training. The deadline for nominations is midday on September 22. Nominations open on September 17.
See here for full details on becoming a council candidate.
How does the voting system work?
For local government areas where there is more than one candidate per ward - such as Ballarat - it will be by proportional representation.
The actual vote count and calculation is quite involved, involving quotas and transferred votes. For a full explanation of how it works, see the KnowYourCouncil website.
Do I legally have to vote?
Yes. As with all federal and state elections, it is a legal requirement to vote if you are an Australian citizen. Penalties for not voting go up to $83.
When will the results be known?
The final result will be declared between November 2 and November 13, an extended time frame to allow for social distancing when ballot counts are taking place.
What is the role of councillors exactly?
This is frequently misunderstood. Councillors are responsible for guiding the overall strategy of the organisation, as well as looking after its long-term financial wellbeing. They are not responsible for the detailed, operational detail of the council.
A common analogy is they are the equivalent of a company board. There are flaws with that comparison as councillors are not necessarily subject experts - and councillors are public figures who are beholden to their constituents rather than shareholders. However, the comparison that councillors are responsible for the overall strategy rather than the detailed operations is a reasonable one.
The council is also responsible for selecting the chief executive officer and managing their performance. This is particularly relevant for Ballarat - where interim CEO Janet Dore is trying to set in train a process to allow the new council to install a permanent, full-time CEO shortly after the election process is complete.
How much do councillors get paid?
Councillors' allowances total $33,000 per year in Ballarat.
The mayor, elected by councillors each year, and considered the spokesperson for the organisation, gets more - around $106,000 a year in total remuneration and allowances according to the latest City of Ballarat annual report.
For further information on the local government elections, see the Victorian Electoral Commission website.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thankyou very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.