Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Financial performance and future operations



Output 2.1.4 - Fee-for-service elections

Updated: 22 December 2010

The AEC conducts elections and ballots for authorities and organisations that have accepted a quote for the service, and provides assistance with the conduct of state, territory and local government elections at the request of the relevant electoral body.


The AEC conducts elections to office, collective agreement ballots, yes/no ballots, referendums and plebiscites on a fee-for-service basis. In addition, the AEC provides assistance with the conduct of state, territory and local government elections, including electoral roll products, staffing and facilities. The level of assistance varies widely, depending on individual electoral body requirements.

Table 15 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Output 2.1.4 in the 2008–09 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 15 Output 2.1.4 – Fee-for-service elections: performance results
Key performance indicators Targets Results
Fee-for-service elections and assistance with conduct of state, territory and local government elections are successfully delivered as required State and local government and commercial elections conducted in accordance with relevant legislation The AEC complied with legislative requirements and organisational rules as appropriate.

The AEC provided skilled and trained staff to conduct fee-for-service elections and provide assistance to state and territory electoral bodies.
Stakeholders are fully satisfied Overall, the AEC received positive feedback from individual fee-for-service clients and state and territory electoral bodies.


There was strong demand for the AEC's electoral services in 2008–09. The number of elections conducted on a fee-for-service basis increased significantly, and the AEC provided expertise and facilities to assist with a range of electoral events, including state elections, across the states and territories.

Fee-for-Service Elections

The AEC continued to pursue opportunities to increase its involvement in fee-for-service election activities in 2008–09, through advertising the service on the AEC website and inviting inquiries through the 'conductmyelection' electronic mailbox.

In 2008–09, the AEC conducted 144 fee-for-service elections and ballots, comprising 29 elections to office and 115 ballots (104 collective agreement ballots and 11 other ballots – see Appendix I for more details). The level of demand for fee-for-service elections and ballots has more than doubled in the past four years. There were 55 conducted in 2005–06; 72 in 2006–07; and 66 in 2007–08 (a federal election year).

The AEC delivers fee-for-service elections and ballots by both post and attendance. Clients are from both the private and public sectors. In 2008–09, the number of voters involved ranged from two to 56 652.

In 2008–09, the AEC typically delivered small (fewer than 300 voters) collective agreement ballots for private sector clients, conducted by post. Fee-for-service clients included clubs and associations, government agencies, unions, and the energy, healthcare and communication sectors. The AEC also provided electoral advice to the community of Kinglake, Victoria, after the 2009 bushfires, to elect a bushfire recovery committee.

Preliminary work was undertaken in 2008–09 to develop an e-voting capacity for fee-for-service elections. During 2009–10, the AEC expects to offer a range of e-voting services including internet, telephone and SMS voting.

The AEC also sought expert advice to better understand the fee-for-service elections market. The AEC expects to increase its business in 2009–10 by targeting organisations, particularly at the national and state levels, using a suite of marketing strategies and tools.

Assistance with state, territory and local government elections

The AEC provides assistance with the conduct of state, territory and local government elections, as agreed with the relevant electoral body, by providing electoral roll products, facilities and staff, as appropriate. Table 16 summarises these activities in 2008–09.

Table 16 AEC assistance with state, territory and local government elections
State/territory AEC assistance
New South Wales The AEC provided assistance for the close of rolls, general postal voter applications and return-to-sender mail for the Local Government Area (LGA) elections held in September 2008 and the state by-elections held in October 2008 for Cabramatta, Lakemba, Port Macquarie and Ryde.

The AEC also provided assistance with the close of rolls for the 17 LGA by-elections held during 2008–09 and the Lord Howe Island Board Elections held in February 2009.

An AEC officer is on secondment to the New South Wales Electoral Commission, assisting with electoral matters.
Victoria The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for the local government elections, involving all 79 councils, held in November 2008.

In addition, the AEC assisted with the close of rolls for three liquor licensing polls held in August and December 2008 and June 2009.
Queensland The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for the state election held in March 2009, eight local government by-elections and four local government surveys.
Western Australia The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for the state election held in September 2008 and the daylight saving referendum and District of Fremantle by-election held in May 2009. The AEC also provided state district returning officers and support staff to provide services including the issue of pre-poll votes from AEC divisional offices for all three events.
South Australia The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for 15 local government by-elections held in 2008–09.
Tasmania The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for the Legislative Council elections held in May 2009 for Derwent, Mersey and Windermere.

The AEC provided returning officers and managed the nominations, voting and the count at the three Legislative Council divisions.

As on previous occasions, pre-poll voting facilities for the Legislative Council elections were available at AEC divisional offices across Australia.
Australian Capital Territory The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls, preliminary scrutiny of declaration votes, issuing of pre-poll votes and return-to-sender mail for the Legislative Assembly election held in October 2008.
Northern Territory The AEC provided assistance with the close of rolls for the Legislative Assembly general election held in July 2008, the inaugural local government shire elections, and five local government shire by-elections. A number of AEC staff were seconded to the Northern Territory Electoral Commission to assist in the conduct of the elections.

Case Study: Collaboration with the Western Australian Electoral Commission

The AEC assisted the western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC) to successfully conduct the western Australian state election in September 2008, and the daylight saving referendum and Fremantle by-election in May 2009.

The WAEC has for many years requested that 'early votes' be issued from AEC divisional offices. Since 2001, a formal arrangement of assistance, which includes AEC staff acting as state returning officers, has been in place. The collaboration is underpinned by a contractual arrangement between the two agencies.

In 2008–09, AEC staff acted as returning officers in 15 of the 59 state districts for the state election and in 14 of the state districts for the referendum. Many of the non-AEC returning officers were assisted by operational advice and local knowledge from AEC staff.

The 2008 state election saw an expanded trial of the WAEC's 'easy absent' system in polling places with a history of large numbers of absent voters. This computer-based system is used to search for an elector's name and, based on information the elector gives to the polling official, determine whether the elector is eligible to vote. If so, the elector's name is electronically marked off the electoral roll. This process has increased a declaration issuing officer's capacity for issuing votes from approximately 100 per day to more than 300 per day. A further advantage is the accuracy and integrity of having an electronic, state-wide roll at the fingertips of polling staff, enabling them to quickly determine an elector's eligibility for either an ordinary, absent or provisional vote.

The 2009 referendum saw the further application of the 'easy absent' system into an 'easy early vote' scenario. That is, the electronic mark-off mechanism was used for electors applying for early votes issued at AEC offices and other early voting centres.

Such collaboration on electoral events:

  • accomplishes a shared learning between the two electoral bodies in western Australia
  • improves the level and coordination of services provided to the public
  • provides the opportunity for the AEC to trial and evaluate modern systems and practices that may have application to federal events.