Everything you need to know about election day in Victoria

Victorians go to the polls on Saturday to decide the 60th state parliament and whether Labor’s Daniel Andrews or the Liberal Party’s Matthew Guy will be premier.

Adult Australian citizens who have lived in Victoria for at least a month are eligible vote, though they need to be enrolled.

The almost 4.4 million people on the electoral roll will have until 6pm Saturday to cast their vote.

This is The Age’s guide to how the election works, how the Victorian parliament is organised and where to find a democracy sausage.

What are we voting for?

Victorians will decide who will form Victoria’s 60th parliament.

The state’s parliament is split up into two chambers – the upper and lower houses. The Legislative Assembly is the lower house and the Legislative Council is the upper house of the parliament.

The lower house of the Victorian parliament in 2021.Credit:Chris Hopkins

In the Legislative Assembly every electorate in the state is represented by a member of parliament. There are 88 MPs in the lower house. The party or coalition that earns majority support in the Legislative Assembly forms government. The Legislative Council divides Victoria into eight regions. There are 40 seats, with five members for each region. Voters will elect five people to represent their region in the upper house.

What happened at the last election?

The last election was held in 2018, when the Labor Party, led by Andrews, earned a majority in the Legislative Assembly with 55 seats. The Liberal-National Coalition won 27 seats. The Coalition was led by Guy in the 2018 election loss. On the crossbench, the Greens won three seats and the remaining three seats were secured by independent MPs.

In the upper house, the Labor government won 18 seats. The Coalition came away with 11 and the remaining 11 seats were secured by minor parties and independents. By the end of the term, the crossbench had swelled by three after departures from the major parties – Adem Somyurek and Kaushaliya Vaghela from Labor and Bernie Finn from the Liberal Party.

How and where can I vote?

There are several options for Victorian voters. Early voting booths opened on November 14 and remained open until 6pm Friday. Voters did not need a special reason to vote early, which is what voters, including the premier, have done in record numbers at this election.

Postal voting is available to Victorians who are unable to get to a voting centre because of distance, illness or age. Applications for postal votes closed on Wednesday. Postal voters must have their ballot pack posted or dropped off at a voting centre by 6pm on Saturday. The last day that postal votes can be admitted to the count is Friday, December 2. If you applied to vote by post, but haven’t received your ballot pack by this Friday, you should vote in person. Some people may be eligible to vote by phone.

A Victorian casts their vote.Credit:Justin McManus

You can vote in person on Saturday, when voting centres around the state open from 8am to 6pm. You can vote from any centre in the state, but voting outside your district may take longer, according to the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The VEC has all the election day voting centres listed on its website.

This election there is a special option for those who have tested positive to COVID-19 – a drive-through voting site at 149 Barries Road, Melton West. It will be open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but voters must show proof of a positive COVID-19 test to use the service.

Where can I get a democracy sausage?

An election day sausage sizzle at local voting centres is an Australian tradition and a way for many schools around the state to raise funds.

Voters passing the cake stall at Footscray City Primary School on election day will be tempted by a feast of political puns in addition to cupcakes.

How does voting work?

Victorian elections follow the preferential voting system – you vote for candidates on a ballot paper in order of preference. There are two separate ballot papers for the upper and lower houses.

There is a smaller ballot paper for lower house voting. You must number every box in the order of your choice, with your first choice being No.1. If your preferred candidate is eliminated from the count, your vote will flow to the next candidate nominated on your ballot. If you do not number each box on the ballot paper, your vote will not be counted.

Voting for the upper house is different. The ballot paper is larger and has a distinct line across the paper. Voters have the option of voting above or below the line. Voting above the line involves writing the number one in the box of the political party or group of candidates you want to support. A vote above the line allows the party/candidates to determine how a voter’s preferences will be distributed.

Below the line there is a box next to the name of each individual candidate. To vote below the line, you must choose at least five candidates. Write a number one in the box for your most-preferred candidate, and continue to number in descending order of preference. You must number at least five candidates to vote below the line, but you don’t need to fill out every box. Voting below the line gives you control over your preferences.

It is important that all voters pay close attention to instructions provided by the VEC officers at their voting centre.

Not voting may result in a fine of $92. For more information about voting in the state election, visit the VEC website.

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