Everything you need to know about the NSW election: when is it, how to vote and who will win?

Voters in New South Wales have already begun voting in the biggest state election in the country.

Here is everything you need to know.

When is it?

NSW elections take place every four years, on the fourth Saturday in March. This year, the election is held on Saturday 25 March.

How do I cast a vote?

There are two ballot papers at the NSW election, one for the upper house and one for the lower house.

The smaller paper is for the lower house, so you’re voting “1” for who you want to be your local member. You can then direct preferences to the other candidates in order of preference if you want to.

The second ballot paper is much larger and is for the upper house. The upper house has 42 members on eight-year terms, with half the seats on offer at every election.

On an upper house ballot paper, you can vote “above the line” and number boxes by parties or groups, or individually pick your votes from among the many candidates across the state.

NSW works on an optional preferential system, meaning once you have voted 1 for your preferred candidate, it’s up to you how many more preferences you fill out.

Where can I vote?

Locations for voting on election day are available on the NSW Electoral Commission website, linked here.

Can I postal vote?

Postal vote applications have closed. To be counted, the postal vote must be received by the NSW Electoral Commission no later than 6pm on Thursday 6 April, the 12th day after election day.

Who is running?

This election is largely a contest between the Coalition, led by incumbent premier Dominic Perrottet, who is attempting to keep his government in power for a record fourth term, and Labor, led by Chris Minns.

Minns is the fourth Labor leader attempting to win government since they were ejected from office in 2011.

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet (left) and NSW Labor leader Chris Minns shake hands following a Q&A session in Sydney on 2 March.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet (left) and NSW Labor leader Chris Minns following a Q&A session in Sydney on 2 March. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

The NSW parliament lower house is also home to a sizeable crossbench of independents and MPs from smaller parties. Nine crossbenchers won election in 2019, with more tipped to join them this year. The current crossbench consists of three Greens, three members of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party (who are now independents) and three other independents, including Greg Piper and Alex Greenwich.

Former Liberal minister Gareth Ward has also decided to contest this election as an independent. Other independents running include Karen Freyer in Vaucluse, Larissa Penn in Willoughby and Michael Regan in Wakehurst.

There are five so-called “teal” independents running at this state election, including Helen Conway in the North Shore, Jacqui Scruby in Pittwater, Judy Hannan in Wollondilly, Victoria Davidson in Lane Cove and Joeline Hackman in Manly.

The Climate 200-backed candidates are hoping to join the six teal independent wins that helped shape the federal election last year.

Could the election result in a hung parliament?

With a larger number of independents running and hoping to hurt the incumbent government’s chances, there is a high likelihood the election will result in a hung parliament, with neither party able to form majority government.

Both Labor and the Coalition require 47 seats to win government, with the Coalition currently sitting on 45 seats, and Labor on 38. It is highly likely the Greens will back Labor to form government, but it could still fall short.

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If both parties fall short, they will both need to enter negotiations with the crossbench.

The Coalition has technically been in minority government since 2021, when MPs John Sidoti and Gareth Ward moved to the crossbench, while Andrew Constance resigned and Labor picked up his seat in a byelection.

Will we get a result on election night?

Given the likelihood of a hung parliament, it’s definitely possible we won’t get a final result on election night.

According to the NSW Electoral Commission, counting will cease on election night at 10:30pm. Any other vote counting not completed on election night will continue on Monday with no counts taking place on Sunday.

What do the polls say?

Polls currently favour Labor to win.

While it is important to note that polls should always be taken with a pinch of salt, the final Newspoll of the election on Saturday pointed to a Labor majority. The poll of showed a two-party-preferred result of 54.5% to 45.5% to Labor, a 6.5% swing since the 2019 election and enough to secure 10 seats for the opposition.

An earlier Resolve also has Labor ahead on primaries on 38% while the Coalition has slipped to 32%, while Roy Morgan polls have Labor ahead 33.5% to 32.5%. Morgan’s two-party-preferred vote has Minns ahead 54%-46%, giving Labor the swing necessary to win a majority.