Filling a casual vacancy
Unlike many other legislatures in Australia, the Assembly does not hold a by-election to fill a casual vacancy (created by the resignation or death of an MLA). The processes for electing a new MLA are set out in the Electoral Act 1992.
A new member is chosen by recounting the votes received by the vacating member to establish which candidate is next preferred by these voters (the people who originally voted for the vacating member). For a candidate to be considered in this process, they must have contested the original election and also have indicated that they wish to contest the casual vacancy.
In the event that it is not possible to fill the casual vacancy through this process, for example, if a candidate does not come forward to contest the vacancy, the Legislative Assembly will choose a person to fill the vacancy.
If the vacating member was elected as a member of a registered political party, the new member must be of the same political party. If the vacating member was not a member of a political party (for example, an independent member), the person chosen to fill the vacancy cannot have been a member of a registered political party in the 12 months prior to filling the vacancy.
This is the fourth time a count back of votes has been performed since the last ACT election in 2012. In 2013, Nicole Lawder was appointed following the resignation of Zed Seselja, and in 2015 Meegan Fitzharris filled the vacancy created when former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher resigned from the Assembly. Earlier this year Jayson Hinder filled the vacancy created by the resignation of Mary Porter. The next ACT election will be held on 15 October 2016.
For more information on the how casual vacancies are filled under the ACT’s Hare-Clark electoral system visit the Elections ACT website.