Election: Who will be Mayor and Councillors explained

Filed in Just In by December 9, 2021

THE Electoral Commission has advised most first preferences have been counted, but postal votes are still coming in until December 17. 

Who gets on Council and who becomes Mayor is now dependent on how voting preferences flow.

See the latest primary vote count below.

Voting explained:

Who will be Mayor?

The Upper Hunter Shire Council does not have a popularly elected Mayor, so the person with the most primary votes will not necessarily be Mayor. The position of Mayor is decided by the Councillors. In this case there are two main camps, candidates who will likely vote for Lee Watts and candidates who will likely vote for Maurice Collison.

Lee Watts will become Mayor if there are at least four of the following candidates become Councillors: Sue Abbott, Tayah Clout, Elizabeth Flaherty, Belinda McKenzie and Patricia Taylor.

Maurice Collison will become Mayor if there are at least four of the following candidates become Councillors: James Burns, Ron Campbell, Allison McPhee, Chris North and Adam Williamson.

So who becomes Mayor is dependent on which candidates become Councillors.

Who will be Councillors?

To become a Councillor, candidates need to meet the quota of votes, which is currently 805 votes.

Only two candidates have met and exceeded the quota, so are assured of being Councillors:

  • Lee Watts on 2,298 primary votes. This gives Lee a current quota of 2.85.
  • Maurice Collison on 1,635. Maurice’s current quota is 2.03.

Because both of these candidates have met quota, it means their surplus votes of 1,493 (for Lee) and 830 (for Maurice) can flow down to other candidates to help them meet quota and become a Councillor.

The Electoral Commission will soon begin going through all of Lee and Maurice’s surplus votes and for each of those ballot papers they will determine who the voter has placed as their 2 and give that vote to that candidate.

For example, Lee Watts recommended people voting for her, to give Sue Abbott their number 2. But it is completely at the discretion of the voter and they may have given their number 2 to Sue or someone else. But for the sake of the example, we’ll assume most people who voted for Lee, gave Sue their number 2. Sue it currently sitting on 578 votes and from Lee’s votes she would meet quota of 805 votes and become a Councillor. But if Lee still has more surplus votes after Sue has met quota, the people marked 3 on her votes will get her remaining votes and they will keep going down until each candidate meets their quota and the votes run out.

So both Lee and Maurice have plenty of surplus votes to pass down and theoretically a candidate currently at the bottom of the primary vote count, could still become a Councillor based on how preferences from voters flow to other candidates.

Once all of the preferences from surplus votes have flowed down it may dramatically change the final votes of each candidate.

To complicate things, there is an equation used by the Electoral Commission, which means that at certain points it is not the full vote that flows down, only a proportion of a vote. Which, again means who meets quota and becomes a Councillor is still unknown.

Bottom up preferences:

Once the votes from the top have flowed down, the preferences from the bottom candidates flow up.

The candidate who is last in the primary vote is excluded and their votes are given to whoever voters put down as their 2. For example, Chris North is currently last in the primary votes and let’s assume for the sake of the example he is still last after preference flow (although he may not be), then Chris’ votes are assessed and each of his votes is given to the candidate the voter marked down as their 2 preference. This could mean someone who was in the bottom three could be pushed up into the top nine and become a Councillor.

So while you may look at the current primary votes and have a fair guess at who may be the final nine Councillors, the preference flows may change everything. At the moment the only two candidates who can be confirmed as Councillors are Lee Watts and Maurice Collison. Preferences may not be finalised until later this month, so it may be quite sometime until we know who is on Council.

  1. Lee Watts – 2,298
  2. Maurice Collison – 1,635
  3. Elizabeth Flaherty – 623
  4. Ron Campbell – 608
  5. Sue Abbott – 578
  6. James Burns – 483
  7. Allison McPhee – 440
  8. Adam Williamson – 423
  9. Tayah Clout – 394
  10. Patricia Taylor – 275
  11. Belinda McKenzie – 149
  12. Chris North – 136

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