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What you need to know about voting in the council elections

Where to vote, when you need to do it, and when you'll find out the results.
Residents across the Illawarra and most of NSW will take to the polls on Saturday and decide who will represent them on their respective councils. Fifty-one candidates have thrown their hats into the ring across the three wards of Wollongong, with six of them vying for the job of lord mayor. There are 17 council hopefuls across Shellharbour's four wards - with two candidates for mayor - while Kiama residents will vote from 41 candidates. Read more: Your guide to the 2021 council elections in Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama Voting in local government elections is compulsory. The polls open at 8am Saturday and close at 6pm. Residents in both Wollongong and Shellharbour will vote from the candidates in the ward in which they are enrolled, as well as who they think should serve as lord mayor for the upcoming term. In Wollongong, ward 1 covers the northern suburbs, down to Fairy Meadow; ward 2 stretches from Fairy Meadow to Unanderra; and ward 3 encompasses the southern suburbs, from Port Kembla. Read more: Another Wollongong pub closes after two staff members test positive for COVID Shellharbour is divided into four wards: ward A is in the west; ward B covers the lakeside suburbs; ward C stretches along the coastline; and ward D covers Flinders, Blackbutt and part of Shell Cove. Kiama has no wards, so all residents of the local government area vote from among all candidates. Once elected, Kiama's councillors will then choose the mayor from among their number at a future council meeting. There are dozens of polling places across Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama. Many are at schools, while some are hosted at surf clubs, community centres and other such amenities. For a full list and to find the closest polling location, visit the NSW Electoral Commission website. Voters must wear a face mask and check-in when entering polling venues. They are also encouraged to bring their own pens, although single-use pens will be available. Read more: Wollongong CBD drama: The day the Skye flooded Surfaces will be regularly cleaned, physical distancing will be maintained where possible, and density limits will apply. NSW Electoral Commission workers undertaking electoral operations will be fully vaccinated. The initial count of ballot papers will begin from 6pm tonight for mayor and councillor positions, where they will be sorted and counted according to the first preference votes. Initial counts give an indication of the likely outcome, but they are not part of the formal ballot-counting process that determines the final result. A second count - or check count - will happen after the initial count, then on Monday, December 20 the distribution of preferences will begin. Read more: When culture is a crime: Fishing on the South Coast The official declaration of results will start from Tuesday, December 21, although for some councils and wards, the results will already be clear. The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here. Sign up for breaking news alerts below...

Residents across the Illawarra and most of NSW will take to the polls on Saturday and decide who will represent them on their respective councils.

Fifty-one candidates have thrown their hats into the ring across the three wards of Wollongong, with six of them vying for the job of lord mayor.

There are 17 council hopefuls across Shellharbour's four wards - with two candidates for mayor - while Kiama residents will vote from 41 candidates.

How to vote

Voting in local government elections is compulsory.

The polls open at 8am Saturday and close at 6pm.

Residents in both Wollongong and Shellharbour will vote from the candidates in the ward in which they are enrolled, as well as who they think should serve as lord mayor for the upcoming term.

In Wollongong, ward 1 covers the northern suburbs, down to Fairy Meadow; ward 2 stretches from Fairy Meadow to Unanderra; and ward 3 encompasses the southern suburbs, from Port Kembla.

Shellharbour is divided into four wards: ward A is in the west; ward B covers the lakeside suburbs; ward C stretches along the coastline; and ward D covers Flinders, Blackbutt and part of Shell Cove.

Kiama has no wards, so all residents of the local government area vote from among all candidates.

Once elected, Kiama's councillors will then choose the mayor from among their number at a future council meeting.

Where to vote

There are dozens of polling places across Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.

Many are at schools, while some are hosted at surf clubs, community centres and other such amenities.

COVID-19 precautions

Voters must wear a face mask and check-in when entering polling venues.

They are also encouraged to bring their own pens, although single-use pens will be available.

Surfaces will be regularly cleaned, physical distancing will be maintained where possible, and density limits will apply.

NSW Electoral Commission workers undertaking electoral operations will be fully vaccinated.

What comes next

The initial count of ballot papers will begin from 6pm tonight for mayor and councillor positions, where they will be sorted and counted according to the first preference votes.

Initial counts give an indication of the likely outcome, but they are not part of the formal ballot-counting process that determines the final result.

A second count - or check count - will happen after the initial count, then on Monday, December 20 the distribution of preferences will begin.

The official declaration of results will start from Tuesday, December 21, although for some councils and wards, the results will already be clear.

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