Campaigning

After nominations close on 18 September 2018, you should check with your council to find out if there are other candidates standing for election in the same area or ward as you.

If no other candidates nominate, you will be declared elected unopposed and a campaign will not be necessary. However, you may still wish to provide electors with information about yourself, your policy views and promises.

If the area or ward is contested then you may want to organise a campaign to encourage people to vote for you.

What you need to know

Before you begin campaigning you should gather some background information to ensure you understand:

  • How the election is run.
  • Who your opposition is.
  • How many votes you are likely to need to be elected.
  • Your ward or area, including maps and population data.
  • Any local issues and concerns.
  • Your council’s current programs, strategies, plans and policies.
  • Laws and regulations that relate to council election campaigning.

In addition to this guide, sources for this information include:

  • The Candidate Handbook (provided in your nomination kit);
  • Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.
  • Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) website.
  • Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA or LGA of SA) website.
  • Your council’s website.
  • Local newspapers.

You may wish to obtain a copy of the voters roll for your ward (or whole council area if you are standing for mayor or area councillor) from your council. The voters roll lists everyone who is eligible to vote in the council election and one copy is available to candidates after the close of nominations, until voting closes. If you wish to obtain additional copies your council may charge a fee.

Planning your campaign

The aim of your campaign is to encourage people to vote - and vote specifically for you. Voting in council elections is voluntary and many people vote only if they are convinced that a candidate will make a difference in the local community.

Ballot papers are distributed 22-26 October 2018. A significant proportion of people complete and return their ballot paper straight away, so you should aim to have your campaign underway before distribution commences.

While elections are competitive, candidates are encouraged to focus on their own positive messages, rather than making negative comments about opponents.

Some key things to consider in planning your campaign include:

  • What issues you will campaign on.
  • What you stand for and the message(s) you wish to convey.
  • What resources (time and money) you are willing to commit to campaigning.
  • Whether you wish to seek campaign donations or undertake fundraising activities.
  • If there are other people you can enlist to help with your campaign.
  • Whether there are high-profile individuals who might endorse your candidacy.
  • If you want to have a scrutineer at the scrutiny and count.

You may also wish to investigate:

  • Contact people and editorial deadlines for local media.
  • Costs for advertising in local media and/or digital advertising.
  • Designers and printers to assist you with your campaign materials.
  • Website developers to assist with your online presence.
  • Establishing a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms (separate to your personal accounts).
  • Whether your council is hosting ‘meet the candidate’ events.

Some of the possible ways to get your message out to voters include:

  • Contact by telephone (those you know or a random selection from the voters roll).
  • Preparing and ‘letterboxing’ a pamphlet/leaflet/postcard.
  • Writing to electors (and/or to those you know well and asking them to give your pamphlet to other people).
  • Door knocking.
  • Speaking to local groups, clubs, resident’s associations, and community organisations.
  • Visiting and talking to people at sporting grounds, shopping centres, train and bus stations and other meeting places.
  • Promoting yourself within your existing networks e.g. church groups, sports teams, business customers.
  • Seeking interview opportunities with local media – newspapers, radio stations or community TV.
  • Submitting information to your local newspaper for candidate ‘profiles’.
  • Placing paid advertisements in local media or online.
  • Placing election signs around the neighbourhood (check with the council about restrictions before affixing any signs).
  • Placing posters in local shop windows, on noticeboards and other venues (with permission).
  • Speaking at public meetings and/or ‘meet the candidate’ sessions.
  • Holding fundraising events at which you can promote your candidacy.
  • Establishing a website and/or social media presence.
  • Sending ‘bulk’ text messages or emails (where you have lawful access to contact information)

Having researched and evaluated your alternatives you should prepare a campaign plan setting out who will do what, when, and how much it will cost. This plan can be shared with your campaign team, and used to help manage the implementation of your campaign.

Important Note: Each candidate is responsible for obtaining their own advice and assistance to stage their campaign. The LGA, the ECSA and councils do not provide legal advice or support in relation to the development of campaign materials or online resources.

Preparing election materials

In addition to your candidate profile, which will be sent to all electors with their ballot papers, you may wish to produce a leaflet/postcard to help promote your candidacy.

Ensure you read and understand the legal requirements relating to publication of electoral material, illegal practices and return of campaign donations which are mailed to you following the close of nominations.

Your promotional materials should be easy to read, concise, and clearly state the messages you wish to convey.

Consider including information such as:

  • Your personal details – the type of work you do, your interests and background.
  • Why you are standing for election – areas of concern, what you hope to achieve, your views about the area and its future development.
  • Election details – the name of your council and ward, and key election dates.
  • Voting details – how to mark and return ballot papers.
  • Contact information – your address, phone number, email address, campaign website and social media accounts.
  • A recent photograph of yourself.

Once you have prepared your campaign material, ask others to read it to check for errors and provide feedback before it is printed.

If distributing printed materials to letterboxes you should respect signs indicating that advertising materials are not welcome.

Once finalised, the information in your leaflet can provide the basis for other promotional materials including website content, media releases and newspaper advertisements.

Signs and posters are a popular method of promotion during elections. Candidates may place election signs on road infrastructure (light poles and stobie poles) during the campaign, but these signs must comply with guidelines for the placement of election signs. Election signs may be put in place no earlier than four weeks before the close of voting, and must be removed within 48 hours of the close of voting.

Candidates must seek permission from relevant business owners and venue operators before displaying posters in windows or on noticeboards.

Promoting your candidacy online

People are becoming increasingly reliant on the internet as a source of information for a wide range of topics, including elections.

The internet is also a relatively low-cost option for candidates to promote themselves and connect with voters.

Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to engage with residents, share information and respond to questions or concerns.

A simple blog or website can be used to share campaign messages and spread issues and ideas in greater detail than possible through social media posts. It can also serve as a hub to connect your other online accounts.

Candidates with an online presence are able to provide a single web link (website or social media address) to the LGA for publication on the candidate website as part of their profile. If you wish to take advantage of this option, ensure that you include your email address on your nomination form. This will be used by the LGA to contact you with information about how to upload your web link.

After nominations close at 12 noon on Tuesday 18 September 2018, the LGA will email you seeking your link. You will have seven days to submit your website address to the LGA. Candidates using the internet for promotion must be aware that any material published or broadcast during the election campaign is electoral material and must comply with the requirements of the Act.

When using social media:

  • Always be courteous, patient and respectful of others’ opinions, including detractors.
  • Respond to comments, posts and messages.
  • Be accurate, constructive, helpful and informative.
  • Correct any errors as soon as possible.
  • Be mindful of your language and expression.
  • Protect your personal privacy.
  • Be sensitive to the privacy of others.
  • Seek permission from anyone who appears in any photographs, video or other footage before sharing these via any form of social media. If asked to remove materials, do so as soon as practicable.
  • Be clear about your identity as a candidate in the election.
  • Don’t use social media when inebriated, irritated, upset or tired.
  • Don’t use fictitious names or identities that deliberately intend to deceive or mislead.
  • Don’t publish information or make statements which you know to be false or may reasonably be taken to be misleading or deceptive.
  • Don’t comment, contribute, create, forward, post, upload or share content that is malicious or defamatory.

Authorised by statements in social media accounts and posts:

To ensure your social media accounts and posts are properly authorised please refer to the Electoral Commision website

Candidate Profile versus Candidate Statement

The Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 refers to both a candidate profile and a candidate statement. These are two different things.

Candidate Profile:

Your candidate profile is the 150-word description submitted to ECSA along with your photograph as part of your nomination for election.

Your candidate profile is printed and distributed with the ballot pack to all electors in the council area in which you are nominating. ECSA also provides your profile and photograph to the LGA to be published on the council elections candidate website.

Candidate Statement:

Your candidate statement is the information you publish independently on the internet, as described above. It can be linked to your candidate profile by providing a web link (social media or website address) to the LGA within seven days of the close of nominations.

Your candidate profile is optional and can contain any information you wish to provide to voters, provided that it complies with legislation.

You are responsible for creating and maintaining your candidate statement. The LGA’s role is limited to providing a link on the candidate website through which voters can access your page.

Door knocking etiquette

In general, it is more likely that someone will vote in a council election if they have engaged directly with one or more of the candidates.

One of the most effective ways of direct engagement is door knocking. However, it is also time consuming and there are some risks that need to be carefully considered and managed.

You should consider the following points before embarking on a door knocking program:

  • Understand that your personal presentation is important.
  • Prepare a brief introduction and be clear about the questions you wish to ask and/or messages you wish to convey.
  • Undertake door knocking on weekends or weekday evenings when more people are at home.
  • Target areas most likely to produce results (especially those close to your own home).
  • Expect to cover an average of 10-15 houses per hour.
  • Respect any signs indicating that you are unwelcome.
  • Expect a wide range of interest levels and responses.
  • Be prepared for complaints and be able to suggest ways to address them with the existing council.
  • Consider your own personal safety. E.g. be aware of the risks of door knocking alone at night.

When someone answers the door:

  • Introduce yourself and briefly explain the purpose of your visit.  If the person is busy, suggest another time or way of contacting you.
  • Be friendly and attentive and listen to the issues people want to talk about. Explain your views politely.
  • Finish your conversation by seeking the person’s support.
  • Leave a card or leaflet behind. (Note: for security reasons, if the door is unanswered, do not leave a note in a manner that would make it obvious to others that the house is unattended.)

Obeying the law

When planning and conducting your campaign it is essential that you comply with relevant legislation and regulations.

Electoral material

Electoral material is any advertisement, notice, statement or representation that is calculated to affect the result of an election or poll. Strict requirements apply to electoral material under the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999. Failure to comply with these requirements may give rise to an offence.

Section 27 of the Act states a person must not publish electoral material or cause electoral material to be published unless the material contains – (a) the name and address of the person who authorises publication of the material; and (b) in the case of printed electoral material – the name and address of the printer or other person responsible for undertaking its production.

2018 Election Signs

These Guidelines operated to provide a general approval to authorise the placement or affixation of moveable signs, advertising candidates for election, on a road or onto infrastructure on a road.

A moveable sign may be placed on a road at any time without the permission of the council provided that it complies with the council’s by-laws. Signs such as corflutes that are advertising candidates for election and which do not comply with council’s by-laws, may be placed on a road without  council’s permission provided that the sign is related to the local government election and is displayed during the period commencing 12 October 2018 and ending at the close of voting on polling day.

To download a copy of the election signs guidelines please click below:

Election Signs – General Approval Guidelines

Misleading material  

Where electoral material, published by any means, includes any purported statement(s) of fact, the person who authorised, caused or permitted the publication is guilty of an offence if the statement is inaccurate or misleading to a material extent.

If the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that published electoral material contains inaccurate or misleading material, the Electoral Commissioner may request the publisher to either withdraw the material from further publication or publish a retraction. 

Candidate profile

The Local Government (Elections) Regulations 2010 require (among other things) that a profile must not refer to another person who has nominated as a candidate without the written consent of that person and must not comment on decisions or actions made or  aken by the council, or on decisions or actions of past or present members of the council. This requirement is specific to the  andidate’s printed profile and further details will be provided by the Returning Officer. A profile in breach of these provisions will invalidate a candidate’s nomination.

Use of council resources

Council resources are not to be used during your campaign, including offices, support staff, equipment and stationery.

Violence, intimidation, bribery 

A person who exercises violence or intimidation, or offers or gives a bribe to induce a person to submit/withdraw candidature, or to influence a vote, or to interfere with the due course of an election, commits an offence. Any person who receives such a bribe is also guilty of an offence. “Bribe” is broadly defined to include a monetary sum or a material advantage, including food, drink or entertainment.

Dishonesty 

A person who dishonestly influences or attempts to influence the result of an election is guilty of an offence. A declaration of public policy or a promise of public action does not amount to bribery or dishonesty.  The public declaration of an intent (if elected) to donate the council member allowance to a particular body or person would be likely to be seen as a form of bribery in the election process.

Interference 

Any person who hinders or interferes with the free exercise or performance of a right under the Act commits an offence against the Act.

Campaign donation return

All candidates (whether successful or not) must submit a campaign donation return to the council CEO within 30 days after the election. The return must set out:

  • The total amount or value of all gifts received.
  • The number of persons who made those gifts.
  • The amount or value of those gifts.
  • The date each gift was made.
  • The name and address of the person who made the gift.  If the gift was made by an unincorporated association the name of the association and the names of the executive committee must be stated. 

It is an offence for a candidate not to lodge a Campaign Donation Return and you should refer to the Candidate Handbook produced by the Electoral Commission of South Australia for more information.

Standing for re-election

Current council members standing for re-election must be aware of additional requirements upon them under the Local Government Act 1999.

Section 91A of the Actrequires councils to adopt a caretaker policy governing the conduct of the council and its staff during the election period.

Council members have a general duty not to use a facility or service provided by the council for the purpose unrelated to the performance of official functions or duties, such as for their election campaign.

Council members who are considering nominating for re-election should familiarise themselves with their council’s caretaker policy which is designed to ensure a level playing field and protect current members from exposing themselves to legal liability or suggestions of unfair advantage.

Complaints

Any individual or organisation can make a complaint about an electoral offence under the Act. The complaint must be made in writing and submitted, with supporting evidence, to the Electoral Commissioner who will consider each complaint on merit.

The court of disputed returns can consider a petition that disputes the validity of an election. The court has considerable powers as set out in the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999

Penalties

The Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 specifies a range of illegal practices. Significant penalties may apply including fines of up to $10,000 fine or imprisonment for seven years.

Local Government Association of South Australia
South Australia
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