THE polls have closed and counting is now under way to determine who will be Bathurst Regional Council's next group of councillors.
As of 7.30pm Saturday night, with less than 150 votes officially counted, Group F, being led by incumbent Graeme Hanger, was leading the count.
Robert Stumpy Taylor's ticket, Group I, had the second-highest number of votes, and incumbent Ian North (Group C) was third.
Incumbents Bobby Bourke and Alex Christian were leading the stand-alone candidates with an equal number of votes, followed closely by Stuart Driver and Jeff Muir.
A total of 68 candidates contested the local government election, with 12 groups on the ballot paper and nine solo candidates.
It is the biggest field of candidates in recent memory.
There were 17 polling places in operation on Saturday, and prior to that there was two weeks of pre-polling at two sites in Bathurst.
Counting of the pre-poll votes got under way at 6pm on Saturday in the returning officer's office in Howick Street, with the votes at the Catholic Parish Centre to be counted first.
The votes cast at the Bathurst Girl Guides Hall will be counted on Monday.
Returning officer Stuart Evennett said that the election day went well.
"Election day in Bathurst has ran very smoothly. I would like to compliment the voting public on their behaviour, patience and for carefully following the additional COVID safety procedures," he said.
"Also, I must acknowledged the brilliant work done by the election officials at the polling places and also the dedicated staff in my office.
"Postal votes will be received up to Friday, December 17 and then early the following week we will find out who are the nine elected councillors for the next three years for Bathurst Regional."
At the same time the pre-poll votes are being counted, the counting of the votes cast on Saturday is under way at the other polling centres.
Mr Evennett said those numbers would be called in the returning office, and there will be a procedure followed to ensure they are the genuine results.
Counting will continue through to 10.30pm Saturday night, and then will be resumed from Monday morning.
"To maintain workplace health and safety practices, all counting has to cease by 10.30pm," Mr Evennett said.
The returning officer's office in Howick Street is also doing the counting for the council elections in Blayney and Oberon, and the count of the pre-poll votes for those two elections will be completed on Saturday as well.
The results will be progressively uploaded to the NSW Electoral Commission website, allowing the communities to follow the count in real time.
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