Every four years the people of Victoria vote to decide who will be the Government of Victoria. If you're enrolled to vote, or you're old enough to enrol to vote, and you live in Victoria, you may be legally required to vote in Victorian State elections.
What the State Government of Victoria Does
The State Government of Victoria, based in Melbourne, looks after the things in Victoria that aren't specifically named by the Australian Constitution as responsibilities of the Federal Government.
The State Government of Victoria manages issues like:
- Agriculture and fishing
- Law enforcement (i.e., Police and the court system)
- Power, gas, water and sewerage
- Public transport
The State Government of Victoria also shares some responsibilities with other levels of government, including:
- Roads (they look after major state roads)
- Public health (they manage hospitals and ambulance services)
- Education (they fund public primary and secondary schools, as well as TAFEs)
- Taxes (e.g., GST, payroll tax, land tax and stamp duties)
- The environment (they develop policies that protect the environment on a state level, and look after waste management and recycling)
By voting in a Victorian State election you're having a say about who you want to represent you and who can make decisions about these and other issues.
When Is the Next Victorian State Election?
State elections in Victoria are held every four years on the last Saturday in November. The elections are independently conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).
The next State election in Victoria will be held on Saturday, 24 November 2018.
Do I Have to Vote?
Voting in all relevant state, local and federal elections is compulsory in Australia. So is enrolling to vote. If you're 18 or over and you're enrolled to vote, but you don't vote - for whatever reason - you could be fined.
If you're 18 or over and you're NOT enrolled to vote, you aren't actually legally allowed to vote, and since it's illegal not to vote if you're 18 or over, not being enrolled could mean that you get fined for not voting.
If you're enrolled to vote in Victoria, you have to vote in all Victorian State elections or risk being fined. To find out where you're enrolled, check out our Check or Change Your Enrolment page or head straight to the VEC's Check Your Enrolment page.
For more about failure to vote, check out the VEC's What if I Didn't Vote? page.
Who Can I Vote for?
In a State election you're voting for the people who’ll represent you in the Victorian State Parliament.
The Victorian State Parliament has two parts: the Legislative Assembly (lower house - like the House of Representatives in Canberra) and the Legislative Council (upper house - like the Senate in Canberra).
Victoria is divided into 88 districts and eight regions. When you vote in a Victorian State election you get to vote for one person to represent your district in the Legislative Assembly, and also for a group of people to represent your region in the Legislative Council.
To find out what your district and region are, and also to find out who currently represents your district and region, check out the Victorial Electoral Council's Find My Electorate tool.
You could also visit the Parliament of Victoria website to get a list of the current members of the Victorian State Parliament.
Remember: It's up to you to decide who you vote for. You don't have to vote for people just because your friends or family tell you to, and you don't have to vote the way that how-to-vote cards say either. The only person who can choose who you vote for is YOU.
Where Do I Vote?
Most people vote at a polling place on election day. Polling places are usually set up at local primary schools and community halls.
About a week before election day you will get an EasyVote card in the mail. This tells you where your nearest voting centre is. If you don't get one of these cards then you may not be enrolled to vote.
Polling places are open at 8am sharp and close at 6pm sharp. If you can't make it to your local polling place on the day of the election, there are other ways to vote, including:
- Postal voting (mailing your ballot papers to the VEC before election day)
- Absentee voting (voting at a polling place outside of your own electorate)
- Early voting (voting at an early voting centre before election day)
To find out where your nearest polling place is, or to find out more about early and postal votes, check out the VEC's How To Vote page.
How Do I Vote?
The actual process of voting might seem complicated, but it's really quite simple. The most important thing to remember is that the process for voting for the Legislative Assembly is different from the process for voting for the Legislative Council.
If you're voting in person, a polling official at the polling place will ask you for your name and address, and whether you have voted before in this election. They then mark your name off the electoral roll and you're given two ballot papers - one for the Legislative Assembly, and one for the Legislative Council.
If you're voting by post, the ballot papers will be sent to you.
Each ballot paper has instructions on how to complete it. Make sure you read these instructions carefully and follow them.
Voting for the Legislative Assembly
To vote for the Legislative Assembly (Lower House), place a 1 in the box next to your preferred candidate, and then number all of the remaining boxes in the order of your preference.
Some political parties hand out how-to-vote cards that show how they would like you to number the boxes on your Legislative Assembly ballot paper. You don't have to complete your ballot paper the way that any how-to-vote card tells you to if you don't want to. It is completely up to you how you complete your ballot paper.
When you complete your ballot paper, make sure that you number all boxes. If you don't number all boxes your vote will be considered "invalid" and won't be counted.
If you have any trouble completing your ballot paper, you can ask an electoral officer for assistance and they will be able to help you.
Voting for the Legislative Council
The ballot paper for the Legislative Council is a large sheet with a thick black line across the top. When you vote for the Legislative Council there are two ways to do it.
If you vote "above the line" you must number only one box above the black line with a 1 and leave the others blank. When you vote above the line you are letting one political party decide on your behalf which Legislative Council candidates will be nominated by your vote.
If you vote "below the line", you must place a 1 in the box next to your preferred candidate and then number at least four other boxes in the order of your preference (i.e., 2, 3, 4 and 5). You can also number as many more boxes below the line as you wish in the order of your preference.
Note that this is different to voting below the line in a Federal election. In a Federal election you must number every box below the line or your vote won't be counted. In a State election you only need to number the boxes below the line up to 5 for your vote to be counted, although you can number as many boxes as you want (as long as you number at least five).
Some political parties hand out how-to-vote cards that show how they would like you to number the boxes on your Legislative Council ballot paper. You don't have to complete your ballot paper the way that any how-to-vote card tells you to if you don't want to. It is completely up to you how you complete your ballot paper.
When you complete your ballot paper, make sure that you have either numbered one box above the line as 1 or numbered at least five boxes below the line from 1-5. If you don't do either of these things, your vote will be considered "invalid" and won't be counted.
For more information about Victorian state elections, visit the VEC website.