Postponement of local government elections

The local government elections, which were due to be held on 4 September 2021, have been postponed in response to the recent outbreak of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Council elections will now be held on 4 December 2021. For more information about the postponement of the elections and what it means, see the FAQ below.


Local government elections – 4 December 2021

The elections are a vital part of the democratic process, ensuring councils across the State are accountable to their communities.

They also provide both residents and candidates with an opportunity to help shape their local community for the next three years.

This election, 5.2 million electors will cast votes for about 5,000 candidates standing for election for more than 1,200 councillor positions at 125 local councils.

Elections are not being held for Central Coast Council, Central Darling Shire Council or Balranald Shire Council this year as they are in administration.

Of the 125 councils holding elections in 2021, all but two have engaged the NSW Electoral Commission to conduct their polls, with Penrith and Fairfield using private election providers.

The NSW Electoral Commission is recruiting more than 30,000 people across the State to deliver the local government elections.

The 2020 Local Government Elections were postponed for 12 months to ensure the health and safety of voters, candidates and NSW Electoral Commission staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSW Government will provide an additional funding package of up to $57 million for COVID-safe elections to be held at no additional cost to councils and so councils only pay for the direct costs of holding their polls.

The Government will also maximise voter participation by utilising iVote, and expanding the eligibility criteria for pre-poll and postal voting.


Further information

nsw electoral commission logo


Government ensures elections are efficient and cost effective

The NSW Government has worked hard to develop and implement key reforms and provide additional funding to ensure effective and efficient local government elections in 2021.

The 4 December 2021 local government elections will see:

  • A new funding model to minimise the financial burden of elections on communities with councils only required to meet the costs directly incurred in running their elections. The State Government has provided $20 million to fund the NSW Electoral Commission’s corporate overheads incurred in running the elections.
  • A better alignment between local government and State electoral processes following a review of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005, allowing greater efficiencies in the administration of elections, including through the use of technology and to reduce costs.
  • Additional funding to the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure that councils do not have to meet the additional cost of holding COVID-safe elections.
  • iVote will be available at council elections administered by the NSW Electoral Commission and operate in the same way it does for State elections.
  • The use of a new and innovative method of allocating preferences (the weighted inclusive Gregory method) that will ensure all votes are counted when allocating preferences and allow election results to be reproducible on a recount.
  • The ability to reproduce results on a recount will allow councils to use a countback to fill councillor vacancies that occur in the first 18 months following the election instead of holding a costly by-election. Councils need to make a decision to use a countback at the first meeting following the election.
  • A requirement for councils to equip councillors with the skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively, appropriately and ethically by delivering an induction program for councillors in the first six months following the elections and ongoing professional development over the balance of the term. The Government has provided Councillor Induction and Professional Development Guidelines to assist councils to develop and deliver training.


Encouraging candidates

The NSW Government is encouraging people from all walks of life to run for election to their local council on December 4.

By clicking on the tabs across the top of this page, anyone considering running for council can access information on standing for election and the role and responsibilities of a councillor.

Tabs include ‘Become a Councillor’, ‘Information for Candidates’, ‘Election of Women to Local Government’ and ‘Stand for Your Community – Diversity Counts’.

Guide for candidates

The Stand for Your Community Candidate Guide contains comprehensive information about becoming and being a councillor, including eligibility and the nomination process.

This guide has been prepared as an introduction to the role of a councillor and the operation of councils. It is a starting point to help you decide whether you would like to run in the next council election.

Online candidate training tool

The Office of Local Government has launched a comprehensive online candidate training tool.

The interactive resource provides candidates with detailed information about running for election and the roles and responsibilities of councils and councillors.

It is designed to arm election candidates with the know-how to launch their election campaign and serve their community to the best of their ability if they are elected.