Campaign legislation & regulation

Electoral material

Electoral material is any material intended to affect the result of an election.

This includes posters and brochures, advertisements, promotional items such as shirts, badges and bags, events and social media posts.

Section 27 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 states that electoral material must contain:

  • the name and address of the person who authorises publication of the material
  • for printed material
    • the address of the printer (if they have a physical address)
    • the email address or website address of the printer (if they have no physical address)

You are responsible for everything you publish, both printed and online. The Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 sets out strict requirements for electoral material. You may be punished for not following these rules.

Rules for newspaper advertising

If you are advertising in the newspaper less than once a month, your advertisements do not need to contain your full address. However, if you are writing a ‘letter to the editor’ piece, you must include your name and address.

If electoral material is published in a newspaper less than once a month, your details do not need to be included in the newspaper advertisement.

Misleading material

Do not publish or authorise election material that is false, inaccurate, or misleading. The Electoral Commissioner may ask you to withdraw the material from further publication or publish a retraction.

Using of council resources

You are not allowed to use council resources for your campaign. This includes offices, support staff, equipment, and stationery.

Violence, intimidation, and bribery

Do not use violence or intimidation, or offer (or give) a bribe to:

  • influence a vote
  • induce a person to submit or withdraw their candidacy
  • interfere with an election.

It is also an offence to receive a bribe. A bribe is money – or a good or service that provides a material advantage, including food, drink, and entertainment – of $20 or more.

Dishonesty

Do not act dishonestly to influence (or attempt to influence) an election. This would make you guilty of an offence.

Declaring public policy or promising 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 likely be seen as a form of bribery in the election process.

Interference

If you hinder or interfere with the free exercise or performance of a right under the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 (SA), you are committing an offence against the Act .

Campaign donations

All candidates (whether successful or not) must submit a campaign donation returns and large gift returns to the returning officer (ECSA). The timing and frequency for lodgement of these returns and the relevant disclosure periods vary and it is important that you ensure you understand and comply with the relevant requirements.

If you get a donation during your campaign, you must submit a ‘campaign donation return’ to the returning officer (ECSA).

The campaign donation return must set out:

  • the total and individual value of all gifts received
  • how many people gave 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 and addresses of the executive committee must be stated.

You must also lodge ‘large gift return’ if you get a gift that is over $2,500.

The Local Government (Elections) Regulations 2010 prescribe the value of a large gift as $2,500. Section 82 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 also sets out circumstances where it is unlawful for a candidate to receive gifts.

The large gift return must be sent to Electoral Commission SA (ECSA) within five days of receipt of the gift and must set out:

  • the amount or value of each gift
  • the date on which the gift was made
  • the name and address of the person who made the gift.

It is an offence for a candidate not to lodge a campaign donation return. Learn more about submitting a campaign donations return.

Standing for re-election

If you are standing for re-election, there are extra requirements under the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.

Councils enter a caretaker policy which sets out the conduct of the council and its staff during the election period.

Current council members have a general duty not to use council services or facilities for election campaigns. This is to support a level playing field for all candidates.

Council members considering re-nominating for re-election should read the councils caretaker policy and minimise risk of legal liability or suggestion of unfair advantage.

Complaints

Any individual or organisation can make a complaint about an electoral offence under the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999.

The complaint must be made in writing and submitted, with supporting evidence, to the Electoral Commissioner who will consider each complaint. You can lodge a complaint online.

More on feedback and complaints

Penalties

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

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