Scrutineers and special vote witnesses for candidates

This section explains which parts of the election scrutineers can be appointed to observe and the training of special vote witnesses.


You can appoint scrutineers and special vote witnesses. Scrutineers and special vote witnesses need to be well briefed on their rights and obligations.

A Scrutineer Handbook - General Election 2017, is available from the Electoral Commission, the Returning Officer, or We will update the handbook before the 2020 General Election.

The Returning Officer will provide training for special vote witnesses.A candidate may not be appointed as a scrutineer.

Role of scrutineers

You may appoint scrutineers to observe the conduct of the election in the following situations:Voting places and advance voting placesYour scrutineers can observe the issue of votes during election day and advance voting, and the preliminary count in voting places after 7pm. The number of scrutineers for each candidate in a voting place at any one time must not exceed the number of issuing officers designated for the voting place.

Scrutineers may:

  • require an issuing officer to question a voter who the scrutineer suspects of impersonation or double voting
  • communicate to party officials the names of persons who have voted in the voting place
  • observe the preliminary count.

Scrutineers must not talk to voters or help with the count.

Scrutineers may use laptops/tablets, but only on strict conditions. Scrutineers will not be allowed to engage in any activity on these devices which would compromise the secrecy and integrity of the voting place.

Laptops or tablets can only be used to record name, page and line numbers. Commenting on social media or using a video or camera is not permitted.

If scrutineers have any concerns about the conduct of an election in a voting place they should raise them with the Voting Place Manager.

Early count of advance votes

One scrutineer per candidate can attend the early count of advance votes at the Returning Officer’s headquarters which commences at any time from 9am on election day.

The Returning Officer will notify you of the start time for the early count for the electorate. Scrutineers may not leave the secured counting area in the Returning Officer’s headquarters before the poll closes at 7pm without the Returning Officer’s permission.

Special vote declarations

Scrutineers may attend the office of the Registrar of Electors to observe the checking of special vote declarations against the electoral rolls, which starts from the Wednesday after election day. Only one scrutineer per candidate may attend at any given time.

Scrutiny of the rolls and the official count

You can appoint one scrutineer to attend the scrutiny of the rolls and the official count at the Returning Officer’s headquarters unless the Returning Officer allows more.

Judicial recount

You may appoint one scrutineer to attend a judicial recount of electorate votes, unless the Judge allows more.

Hospitals and rest homes

Local party organisations may, with the approval of the person in charge of a hospital or rest home, appoint scrutineers to accompany an electoral official issuing hospital votes on or before election day.

Appointing scrutineers

Before being allowed to serve as a scrutineer, all scrutineers must make a declaration that they will not compromise the secrecy of the poll. The declaration is provided in the Scrutineer Handbook - General Election 2017 or is available from the Returning Officer and must be made before an electoral official, Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.

Scrutineer appointments must be in writing with your signature. You should provide your scrutineers with a copy of their written appointment to produce to electoral officials. The appointment form can be an original, fax or photocopy. It must specify the voting place and/or advance voting place that the scrutineer has been appointed to. It must also specify if a person is being appointed for the early count, special vote declarations scrutiny and/or the official count.

The Scrutineer Handbook contains an optional appointment form that you can use for appointing scrutineers.

Special vote witnesses

You may nominate people to be authorised by the Returning Officer as witnesses of special voting declarations. Appointments must be in writing with your signature. These people may then witness the declarations of voters who cannot get to a voting place on election day.

The Returning Officer may:

  • reject an appointment but must give reasons for doing so, or
  • revoke an approval if the person nominated does not comply with the rules for witnessing special vote declarations.

The Returning Officer will not approve special vote witnesses unless they have been trained to the Returning Officer’s satisfaction. This is to avoid voters being disenfranchised by incorrect procedures. The Returning Officer will advise you of training times for special vote witnesses.