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In the typical case, the deposit collected is repaid to the candidate after the poll, if that candidate obtains a specified proportion of the votes cast. The purpose of this system is to reduce the prevalence of 'fringe' candidates or parties with no realistic chance of winning a seat.
In Australia, a deposit of $1000 is required for a candidate for the lower house, and $2000 for a candidate for the upper house. The deposit is refunded if the candidate or group gains 4% of the first preference votes.
In Canada, a candidate for Member of Parliament must place a $1,000 deposit. Formerly, failure to reach a set percentage of the vote, either 10% or 15% depending on the era, led to the loss of the deposit.
At present, all candidates receive their deposit back if they turn in their properly completed financial paperwork on time, and a portion of election expenses are reimbursed if 10% is reached. Nevertheless, the phrases "lose one's deposit" and "get one's deposit back" are still commonly heard in political circles.
Each list of candidates for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong is subject to a deposit of HK$50,000 for a geographical constituency, and HK$25,000 for a "functional constituency". Deposits are forfeit if the list (or candidate) fails to receive at least 3% of the valid votes cast in the constituency. For District Council elections, the deposit amount is HK$3000.
In the Republic of India, candidates for election to the lower house of the parliament - Lok Sabha must pay a security deposit of 25000. For state assembly elections the amount is 10000. For Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes candidates the amounts are 12500 and 5000 respectively. A defeated candidate will forfeit his deposit and bail rights if he polls less than one-sixth of the total valid votes cast in a First-past-the-post voting system.
Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, candidates for election to Dáil Éireann who have been nominated by political parties registered to contest Dáil elections, as well as non-party candidates who are able to provide detailed information of 30 electors in the constituency who have assented to their nomination, do not have to pay a deposit. Candidates who fail to meet either of these criteria, however, must pay a deposit of €500. This follows a High Court ruling; the court found that the obligatory payment of deposits by all candidates was repugnant to the Constitution of Ireland.
Candidates who have paid a deposit have it returned to them if their final vote total, under the single transferable vote electoral system, exceeds one-quarter of the Droop quota for their constituency. This is also the threshold that candidates' votes must exceed in order for them to claim an election expenses allowance from the State.
Japan’s electoral deposit is the most expensive by far among the countries having such a system.
Currently, a candidate for a constituency seat of the lower house or the upper house must place a ¥3 million deposit. It is refunded provided that the lower house candidate gains one-tenth (10%) or more of the total valid votes cast in the constituency, or provided that the upper house candidate gains one-eighth (12.5%) or more of the total valid votes divided by the number of the seats for the constituency. The deposit for a proportional seat of both houses is ¥6 million and the refund depends on the number of seats that the party gains. It is refunded in full if half or more of its candidates gain seats.
Local elections including gubernatorial and mayoral elections also have the deposit system with the amounts ranging from ¥300,000 to ¥3 million. Only in town and village elections is no deposit required.
The deposit system in Japan, modelled on that of the UK, was introduced as part of the General Election Law of 1925 to prevent frivolous candidates from running simply for publicity or to disrupt election campaigns. However, it is sometimes claimed that its real purpose is to limit the number of candidates and make sure that those with financial power also hold political power. Hiroshi Kamiwaki, a professor specializing in the Constitution at Kobe Gakuin University has argued that it is against Article 44 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination concerning the eligibility of lawmakers based on property and income.
In South Korea, candidates for election to a constituency seat of the National Assembly must pay a deposit of 15 million won, which is reimbursed in full if they obtain at least 15% of the valid votes cast. Only half the amount is reimbursed if they receive over 10% but less than 15% of the votes. Candidates running for proportional seats must pay the same amount, which can be reimbursed if the party which they represent obtains at least one seat.
In Malaysia, the deposit is RM 10,000 to contest a parliamentary seat and RM 5,000 to contest a state assembly seat (increased from RM 5,000 and RM 3,000, respectively, in 2004). Since 2004, it was required that each candidate provide an additional RM 5,000 deposit for cleaning up banners and posters after the election. This increase is seen by some as having led to the government winning a record number of seats without contest in 2004 (17 parliamentary seats were won without contest). The deposit is used to pay for infringements of election laws and is returned after polling day unless the candidate loses and fails to garner more than 1/8 of the vote.
In New Zealand Parliament election, registered parties may submit a party list on payment of a $1000 deposit. This deposit is refunded if the party reaches 0.5% of the party votes. The deposit for an electorate candidate is $300 which is refunded if the candidate reach 5%.
In Singapore, the election deposit for the Parliament is S$16,000. Candidates who fail to secure at least 12.5 percent of the valid votes in their constituencies will have their deposit forfeited.
Currently, the deposit in elections to the House of Commons is £500, which must be handed in, in cash, banker's draft, or other forms of legal tender, when the candidate submits his or her nomination papers. It is refunded provided that the candidate gains one-twentieth (5%) or more of the total valid votes cast in the constituency.
Between 1918 and 1985, the cost of a Parliamentary deposit was £150 but the threshold for retaining it (i.e., having the money returned to the candidate) was winning one-eighth (12.5%) of total valid votes cast.
Deposits also must be paid by candidates for election to
- the Scottish Parliament,
- the National Assembly for Wales,
- the Mayoralty of London,
- the London Assembly,
- the Northern Ireland Assembly,
- the European Parliament.
A deposit of £500 is also required for mayoral elections in those English or Welsh local authorities that are led by an executive mayor, and for elections to the post of Police and Crime Commissioner in the police areas of England and Wales.
In recent times, the loss of his or her election deposit by a candidate for one of the major parties has come to be regarded as something of an embarrassment.
- Paggie Leung, "Deposit forfeitures nearly double", South China Morning Post, Page A4, 9 September 2008
- "FAQs - Contesting for Elections". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
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- "Forfeited deposits fill EC coffers". Times of India. 24 April 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- Contesting for Elections
- Electoral (Amendment) Act 2007
- Collins, Geraldine (22 March 2002). "Law to abolish election deposit". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Candidate deposit requirement guarantees same faces on the ballot Yen for Living (The Japan Times blog) October 26th, 2012
- IPU PARLINE database: REPUBLIC OF KOREA Kuk Hoe (National Assembly)
- Rahman, Rashid A. (1994). The Conduct of Elections in Malaysia, p. 133. Kuala Lumpur: Berita Publishing. ISBN 967-969-331-7.
- Electoral Commission Factsheet, August 2009
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- Guidance for candidates and agents, Northern Ireland Assembly elections, March 2007
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- UK’s Tory-LibDem coalition avert by-election embarrassment, can forge ahead shrinking government, Washington Examiner, 14 January 2011