Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability



Financial statements

Program 1.1 – Electoral roll management

Updated: 25 November 2010

Facilitate correct electoral enrolment by eligible people so that they can properly exercise their franchise. This is achieved by ongoing maintenance and review of the electoral roll so that it is accurate and up-to-date for the conduct of elections. In addition, provide accurate and appropriate electoral roll products to eligible people and organisations.

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The electoral roll is the record of people entitled to vote at federal, state and territory and local government elections. The AEC manages the electoral roll by:

  • preparing, maintaining and revising the electoral roll used for federal elections
  • maintaining the electoral rolls for state, territory and local government elections, through joint roll arrangements
  • making the electoral roll available for public inspection
  • providing roll products and services to authorities, people and organisations as specified under the Electoral Act.

Maximising the integrity of the electoral roll is integral to ensuring Australia's democratic electoral processes function effectively. Key elements of integrity are:

  • completeness – all individuals who are entitled to be enrolled are enrolled
  • accuracy – the individual is enrolled for the address at which they are entitled to be enrolled
  • entitlement – the individual meets all legislative qualifications for enrolment on the electoral roll (information provided by the individual is tested to detect and prevent enrolment fraud)
  • processing correctness – information provided by individuals and organisations is entered correctly and completely on the roll.

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Table 7 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Program 1.1 in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 7 Program 1.1 – Electoral roll management: performance results
Key performance indicators Targets Results
Proportion of eligible people on the electoral roll 95% of eligible people are on the electoral roll 89.7% of eligible people were on the electoral roll at 30 June 2010.
Accurate and timely enrolment processing 99.5% of enrolment transactions correctly processed 98.8% of enrolment transactions were correctly processed.a
99% of enrolment transactions processed within three business days 90.3% of enrolment transactions were processed within three business days.
Engaging with electors through the enhanced use of technology Those eligible to enrol have enhanced capability to access certain enrolment services electronically by 30 June 2010 The AEC enrolment SmartForm has been operational since September 2009.
Accurate and timely provision of roll products At least 98% of roll products accurate 99.9% of roll products delivered were accurate.
At least 98% of roll products delivered by agreed deadline 99.9% of roll products were delivered by the agreed deadline.

a Any errors in processing detected by the AEC are corrected and the record is amended.

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Elector numbers and participation rate

At 30 June 2010, 13 901 840 electors were enrolled to vote, an increase of 9 278 from the 13 892 562 electors enrolled at 30 June 2009.

The number enrolled at 30 June 2010 represented a participation rate of 89.7 percent. The participation rate is based on an estimate of the total number of people eligible to enrol, which is calculated using the Australian Bureau of Statistics population data derived from the census.

While the number of electors on the electoral roll was greater than in previous years, the eligible Australian population is continuing to grow at a faster rate than the electoral roll. As a consequence, the overall participation rate has continued to decline. Figure 3 shows the trend in the number of electors enrolled and the participation rate for each year since the 2004 federal election.

Figure 3 Size of the electoral roll and estimated participation rate, October 2004 to June 2010

Figure 3: bar and line graph

Text description of Figure 3

This figure shows that:

  • The AEC is yet to achieve its target participation rate of 95 percent.
  • The size of the electoral roll has increased since the 2004 and 2007 elections.
  • The decline in the participation rate since the 2007 election has continued.

The continuing decline in the participation rate reflects growth in the population eligible to enrol and apparent reduced motivation among eligible electors to enrol and to maintain correct enrolment without an election imminent at either the federal level or the state/territory level. State elections in South Australia and Tasmania during 2009–10 saw some limited growth in the number of electors on the roll for each of those states; however, the growth was small in terms of contributing to the national participation rate as those states are home to a relatively small number of eligible electors.

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Enrolment activity

In 2009–10, the AEC processed 2 328 661 transactions concerning electors' enrolment details. Some 1.3 million of these transactions (53.9 percent) involved changes to enrolment details where electors provided new information, usually because they had moved residence.

Figure 4, which shows components of enrolment activity, indicates that changing enrolment details has consistently been more than half of the AEC's roll management workload for each of the past six years.

Figure 4 Components of enrolment activity, 2004–05 to 2009–10

Figure 4

Note: The enrolment activities presented in this figure are:

  • new enrolments – additions to the electoral roll of individuals who have become eligible to enrol and who have not previously been on the electoral roll
  • re-enrolments – additions to the electoral roll of individuals who have previously been removed from the roll
  • change in enrolment details – alterations to an individual's details as a result of intrastate, interstate or intra-division amendment or movement
  • no change to enrolment details – cases where an individual returned an enrolment form but their enrolment details did not need to be altered
  • objections – removals of individuals from the electoral roll on the basis that they do not live at their enrolled address or no longer have an entitlement to be enrolled
  • deaths – removals of the names of people who have died.

The following have not been included in this figure as they make up less than one percent of enrolment activity in any given year:

  • duplications – deletion of enrolment details from the electoral roll where an individual is enrolled more than once, due to administrative errors in the most part
  • cancellations – removals of individuals from the electoral roll who have not maintained their eligibility status for enrolment under the Electoral Act
  • re-instatements – addition to the electoral roll of an individual who was deleted in error while still entitled to be on the roll.

Text description of Figure 4

In comparing the makeup of activity between years, differences which can be observed for 2009–10 are:
  • the proportion of activity resulting from processing new enrolments decreased
  • the proportion of activity resulting from processing re-enrolments increased
  • the proportion of activity resulting from processing objections was double that of 2008–09 and 2007–08
  • when new enrolments and re-enrolments are considered jointly (both activities result in the addition of individuals to the electoral roll), approximately 20 percent of transactions over the past three years have led to electors being added to the electoral roll.

Table 8 summarises enrolment activity during 2009–10 for the types of transactions presented in Figure 4, as well as by state and territory.

Table 8 Enrolment activity, 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010
  NSW Vic. Qld WA SA Tas. ACT NT Total
Additions to the roll
New enrolments 97 342 86 772 56 609 30 138 26 855 6 951 5 591 2 684 312 942
Reinstatements 955 744 963 520 117 141 159 47 3 646
Re-enrolments 47 769 35 238 31 251 16 780 12 366 5 672 2 775 1 767 153 618
Intrastate 152 171 140 101 113 849 53 096 42 985 9 337 2 577 990 515 106
Interstate 27 702 24 761 29 252 9 562 9 127 6 012 7 233 5 208 118 857
Intra-division amendment or movement 176 744 142 554 140 996 60 110 57 242 25 505 11 947 5 662 620 760
No change enrolment 33 508 35 209 26 276 22 762 16 635 5 165 1 920 1 707 143 182
Total enrolment transactions processed 536 191 465 379 399 196 192 968 165 327 58 783 32 202 18 065 1 868 111
Deletions from the roll
Objections 107 319 78 569 73 373 45 079 15 240 10 348 10 566 5 563 346 057
Deaths 37 991 27 275 20 938 9 583 10 207 3 547 1 189 740 111 470
Duplications 607 490 523 301 234 77 25 87 2 344
Cancellation 195 184 282 14 4 0 0 0 679
Total deletions processed 146 112 106 518 95 116 54 977 25 685 13 972 11 780 6 390 460 550
Total elector transactions 682 303 571 897 494 312 >247 945 191 012 72 755 43 982 24 455 2 328 661

Note: National and state/territory totals for enrolment activity are subject to minor statistical adjustment and will show minor differences from gazetted enrolment details. The figures above include new enrolments and changes to enrolment for 17-year-olds.

Overall, there was an increase of 16.8 percent in the number of transactions processed, compared to 2008–09. An increase in the overall level of transactions is to be expected in the lead-up to a federal election. In addition, the AEC significantly increased its actions to contact electors who are eligible to enrol but have yet to do so and electors believed to reside at an address other than the address for which they are enrolled.

This increase in activity to contact electors prompted increases in transactions for:

  • re-enrolments, from 82 756 in 2008–09 to 153 618 in 2009–10 (85.6 percent increase)
  • intrastate movements, from 444 683 in 2008–09 to 515 106 in 2009–10 (15.8 percent increase)
  • intra-division amendments or movements, from 598 132 in 2008–09 to 620 760 in 2009–10 (3.8 percent increase)
  • objections, from 144 739 in 2008–09 to 346 057 in 2009–10 (139.1 percent increase).

The increase in re-enrolments is helping the AEC to improve the completeness of the electoral roll. Accuracy of the electoral roll is improved as a result of the intrastate movements and intra-division amendments or movements as electors update the address for which they are enrolled to vote and the AEC undertakes its range of roll integrity checks.

The increase in the number of objections processed shows the AEC's ongoing commitment to ensuring the accuracy of the electoral roll. 'Objections' activity can lead the AEC to remove from the electoral roll electors whom the AEC has determined no longer live at their enrolled address and have not lived at that address for at least one month. Having received information indicating that an elector is no longer resident at the address for which they are enrolled, the AEC attempts to find the elector's new address. The AEC will remove an elector from the electoral roll only if there is no response to any of the AEC's attempts to make contact.

The AEC provides a range of mechanisms to assist people to enrol, re-enrol or change their enrolment details. Table 9 shows the top 10 sources of enrolment forms in 2009–10 and indicates where they ranked in the top 10 sources in 2008–09.

Table 9 Top 10 sources of enrolment forms, 2009–10
Source by rank Rank in 2008–09 All enrolment forms Change in enrolment details New enrolment Re-enrolment
1. Mail review 1 732 587 543 762 93 221 95 604
2. Post office 3 199 114 175 902 12 843 10 369
3. State electoral commission n/a 161 624 130 955 22 530 8 139
4. Internet 4 145 955 127 271 7 652 11 032
5. Division office 5 107 905 92 917 5 749 9 239
6. Transport authorities 7 105 878 100 190 2 021 3 667
7. Citizenship ceremonies 8 90 634 2 794 87 493 347
8. Enrol to Vote Week 10 35 993 3 053 32 911 29
9. Birthday cards 9 30 331 965 29 317 49
10. State elections 2 27 606 22 107 1 259 4 240
Total   1 637 627 1 199 916 294 996 142 715

n/a = not in the top 10

Note: Includes new enrolments and changes to enrolment for 17-year-olds.

The top 10 sources of enrolment forms for 2009–10 generated 157 000 more enrolment forms than the top 10 sources for 2008–09. This reflects an increase in some AEC activities, such as the mailing program, and the extension of some activities, such as the availability of enrolment forms from state transport authorities.

The type of arrangement that the AEC has with Queensland Transport, which sees enrolment forms mailed with change of address labels for driver's licences, also began operating in Western Australia in October 2009 and in South Australia in June 2010. Also in Queensland and Western Australia:

  • customer service officers at licensing centres ask 17-year-olds who are conducting business relating to their driver's licences to take home an enrolment form to be completed and returned to the AEC
  • enrolment forms are displayed and readily available to other licensing customers who may wish to update their enrolment information.

Other states and territories are examining the possibility of entering into similar partnerships.

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Continuous Roll Update

The Continuous Roll Update (CRU) program is the most significant enrolment activity conducted by the AEC. The program consists of regular mail reviews in which the AEC conducts large mail-outs to specific addresses where it believes eligible electors who are currently not on the electoral roll reside. The mail reviews are supplemented by targeted fieldwork. Follow-up activity is also conducted, mainly aimed at people who have not responded to an initial mail-out.

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Mail review

Among the AEC's current suite of options to generate completed enrolment forms from electors, mail review is among the most scalable and cost effective. As Table 9 shows, mail review activities produced significantly more enrolment forms in 2009–10 than any other source. The number of enrolment forms received as a result of mail review increased significantly, as did the number of change in enrolment transactions and re-enrolments occurring as the result of mail review.

During 2009–10, the AEC sent some 4.6 million CRU letters, an increase of 84 percent on the 2008–09 mailing of around 2.5 million CRU letters. This increase was due to several factors, including the use of a new data set and the sending of follow-up or reminder letters. Some 27 percent of CRU letters were reminder letters sent to electors who neglected to respond to their initial letter, usually within three months after the original letter was sent.

The remainder of these letters were initial letters sent to electors as part of the regular monthly mailing program or as part of special one-off targeted mailing events. During 2009–10, special mailing events included sending letters to individuals studying at TAFE in New South Wales and Queensland, and sending letters to individuals who had previously been excluded from the monthly mailing program.

This process assists electors to voluntarily comply with their obligations under the Electoral Act by keeping their enrolment details current.

In June 2010, the AEC trialled a new mail format: postcards carrying the 'Enrol Now' message and setting out three easy steps to enrol using the enrolment form available online. 'Enrol Now' postcards were sent to the addresses of approximately 16 000 'vanished electors' (people who were once enrolled but are no longer enrolled). This trial will be evaluated during 2010–11.

During 2009–10, the AEC examined the ways in which it contacts electors and how electors prefer to be contacted. New approaches were trialled to contact people who do not respond to initial CRU letters, specifically contacting non-respondents by telephone or by SMS messages.

Following initial refinements to some categories of CRU letter, market testing of three categories of letters used in the CRU program examined:

  • letter content, including messages and ease of understanding by electors
  • the communication package (form of correspondence sent).

Based on the results of the testing and research with 18–35-year-olds, the most under-represented age group on the electoral roll, the CRU letters and their envelopes were redesigned. New letter designs were incorporated into the CRU program in June 2010.

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Improving our client contact

Assisting Australians to maximise their franchise is one of the most important tasks for the AEC. From early 2010, the AEC redoubled its efforts to contact existing and potential electors, ahead of the impending federal election.

Based on its research, the AEC developed new communication methods and messages designed to catch attention and prompt responses. Over a two-week period in May and June 2010, the AEC conducted its first trial of SMS messaging. Using data from another Commonwealth agency, the AEC was able to send SMS reminders to some 54 000 Australians who were not on the electoral roll, or whose address details had changed. The reminders followed up on standard letters already sent out by the AEC. The SMS message read:

Hurry, enrol to vote now, it's easy!
Call 13 23 26 or jump on our website
Australian Electoral Commission
To opt-out of this service, please call 13 23 26.

The SMS trial was moderately successful in prompting recipients to check their enrolment status. The trial also demonstrated the affordability of SMS communication, particularly compared with other methods of client contact such as telephone calls and doorknocking. SMS messaging will be one component of the range of communication tools used by the AEC.

The AEC also updated its regular correspondence as part of the Continuous Roll Update (CRU) program. Under the CRU, the AEC regularly reviews data from external agencies to identify cases where an elector has become eligible to enrol and vote or has changed their address. The AEC writes to those electors asking them to join the electoral roll or update their enrolment details. In 2009–10, the AEC revamped the content and appearance of its letters, making them more accessible, friendly, and easy to understand.

The redesign of the letters began at a national workshop with the Joint Commonwealth–State Roll Management Group. The workshop generated suggested changes to text and design, which the AEC then market tested with client groups. The new letters, which are now in effect, feature the message that enrolment can be finalised 'in three easy steps'.

Complementing the new CRU correspondence, the AEC introduced a range of postcard style communications, some in conjunction with radio station triple j as part of the Rock Enrol campaign. The 'postcards' were used in two distinct ways: first, for public distribution through cafes and other public venues; and second, as addressed mail to current or potential electors, offering more eye-catching appeal and accessible information than a standard letter.

Taken together, these new methods of contacting clients represent a significant step on the AEC's road to modernising its practices, and its commitment to working innovatively and persuasively to grow the electoral roll.

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Specific fieldwork exercises in areas with low rates of enrolment were conducted during 2009–10.

Fieldwork in Queensland and Western Australia was specifically targeted at contacting electors who had not responded to an initial CRU letter. In Queensland, areas with low rates of enrolment were identified within the divisions with the lowest participation rates. In those areas, the AEC sought to make face-to-face contact with electors who had not responded to a CRU letter.

Fieldwork was also conducted under the auspices of NACARAS (the AEC's North and Central Australia Remote Area Strategy) in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The general profile of divisions covered by NACARAS is that they cover a large area, contain a number of small isolated communities, have high proportions of culturally and linguistically diverse Indigenous people and receive very limited or no mail delivery. These factors mean that all mail-based activities are largely ineffective in these divisions. Fieldwork was specifically targeted at electors living in remote communities, which tend to have lower rates of enrolment than the national average.

Evaluations of these targeted fieldwork exercises will be considered in 2010–11.

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Enrolment of newly eligible electors

Securing the enrolments of newly eligible electors – 18–25-year-olds and new citizens – is a particular priority for the AEC. Having secured their enrolment, the AEC then faces the challenge of ensuring that these electors remain enrolled. Table 10 shows that, in 2009–10, the AEC's targets for the enrolment of young voters and new citizens were not met.

Table 10 Performance targets and results for 18–25-year-olds and new citizens, 2009–10
Targets Results
80% of 18–25-year-olds are enrolled to vote 77.5% of 18–25 year-olds were enrolled to vote at 30 June 2010.
95% of new citizens are enrolled within three months of becoming citizens 94.4% of new citizens were enrolled within three months of becoming citizens.

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Figure 5, which presents the AEC's performance in meeting the target participation rate for 18–25-year-olds, indicates the following:

  • the target participation rate was not achieved for 2009–10
  • the actual participation rate for 2009–10 decreased significantly from 2008–09
  • 2009–10 was the first year since 2005–06 in which the actual participation rate for 18–25-year olds fell below the target participation rate.

Figure 5 Target and actual participation rate for 18–25-year-olds, 2004–05 to 2009–10

FIgure 5

Text description of Figure 5

The report on performance for Outcome 3 describes the diverse and carefully targeted activities that the AEC undertook during 2009–10 to encourage young people to enrol to vote and maintain accurate enrolment details. As many of these activities commenced late in the financial year, their full effect on the participation rate for 18–25-year olds should become apparent during 2010–11 when the impact of these initiatives is able to be assessed.

Table 11, which shows the top 10 sources of new enrolments and changes to enrolment details for young voters during 2009–10, indicates that mail review is the source from which the AEC continues to generate the most new enrolments and changes in enrolment details for 18–25-year-olds.

Table 11 Top 10 sources of new enrolments and changes to enrolment details for 18–25-year-olds, 2009–10
Source by rank Rank in 2008–09 No. transactions
New enrolment
1. Mail review 1 56 557
2. Birthday cards 3 14 023
3. Citizenship ceremonies 6 10 536
4. Post office 4 9 877
5. State electoral commission n/a 8 481
6. Enrol to Vote Week 9 6 028
7. Internet 7 5 243
8. Division issued 8 3 417
9. Fieldworka n/a 2 220
10. Transport authorities n/a 1 293
Total   117 675
Change in enrolment details
1. Mail review 1 95 155
2. Post office 3 25 974
3. Internet 4 25 868
4. State electoral commission n/a 25 352
5. Transport authorities 6 21 656
6. Division issued 5 12 600
7. State elections 2 4 990
8. Fieldworka n/a 3 014
9. Division office other n/a 1 611
10. Proof of Identity Acknowledgement Enrolment Forms 9 1 384
Total   217 604

n/a = not in the top 10

a Does not include Sample Audit Fieldwork (the process of reviewing the accuracy and completeness of a sample of the electoral roll).

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New citizens

The AEC encourages new citizens to enrol to vote by approaching them directly through citizenship ceremonies. In all states and territories, AEC employees attend citizenship ceremonies to provide electoral information and assist with the completion of enrolment forms. Each new citizen is given an enrolment form which has been pre-filled with their personal details. They can return the completed form immediately, through the AEC staff member or the local council representative at the ceremony.

Figure 6 shows the proportion of the forms distributed at citizenship ceremonies that were returned within three months of distribution.

Figure 6 Target and actual rate of new citizens enrolling within three months of attending a citizenship ceremony, 2004–05 to 2009–10

Figure 6: line graph

Text description of Figure 6

Over the past six years, the AEC has not met the target rate. However, 2009–10 saw substantial improvement, with the AEC enrolling 94.4 percent of this group within three months of becoming eligible to enrol. The target for enrolment of new citizens is included in the Mobilise the Franchise project, to identify ways of achieving this measure.

In April 2010, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) commenced a trial in South Australia of 'over the counter' citizenship: rather than attend a citizenship ceremony, an individual may become a citizen by making their pledge of commitment at a DIAC office. Individuals participating in this form of citizenship ceremony will receive a pre-filled enrolment form from DIAC in one of two ways. The effectiveness of these two methods of provisions will be evaluated by the AEC during 2010–11.

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Measuring integrity of the electoral roll

Targeted approaches are used by the AEC to measure elements of integrity of the electoral roll.

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Enrolment Quality Assurance Program

The Enrolment Quality Assurance Program (EQAP) is a national quality assurance program for enrolment application processing. The program measures whether enrolment applications are correctly reviewed on receipt to ensure that they have been completed acceptably by electors (that is, that electors are entitled to be on the electoral roll), and whether enrolment applications are processed accurately, completely and in a timely manner.

Every month, a statistically valid random sample of enrolment forms processed in that month is selected from each division. The sample is checked by the state or territory office and any errors detected are referred to the relevant division for correction. Identification of errors will assist the AEC with the development and targeting of training packages and will also provide guidance for future system enhancements.

The EQAP was trialled during 2008–09 and was formally implemented for 2009–10. As the EQAP currently operates with a lag between the times when an enrolment form is processed and when it is checked, the results in Table 12 are for enrolment forms processed in the period from July 2009 to February 2010.

Table 12 Enrolment Quality Assurance Program results, enrolment forms processed July 2009 to February 2010
Measures Results Explanation
Essential fields found without errorsa 98.8% Fields on an enrolment form that would impact on the enrolment – surname or family name, given name/s (where known), date of birth, gender, residential address, citizenship details, signature or mark, proof of identity, signature of witness (where required), postal address.
Non-essential fields found without errors 96.7% Any other fields on the enrolment form. These fields do not impact on an enrolment.
Timing of processinga 90.3% Enrolment forms processed within three business days of the form being received by any AEC office.

a These measures relate to the key performance indicators for accurate and timely enrolment processing. 'Essential fields found without errors' measures achievement against the target of 99.5 percent of enrolment transactions correctly processed and 'timing of processing' measures achievement against the target of 99 percent of enrolment transactions processed within three business days.

An enrolment form may not have been processed within three business days of receipt because:

  • essential fields on the enrolment form have not been completed, meaning the applicant cannot be enrolled. AEC staff will contact the applicant to complete the missing information. In some cases this may be done by phone or email, but in other cases a letter and a new enrolment application form will be required to be mailed to the applicant
  • citizenship eligibility cannot be clearly established from the enrolment application form, and AEC staff need to conduct further investigations
  • the flexibility to process enrolment forms received at a location other than an individual's enrolled division is limited. Provisions of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Pre-poll Voting and Other Measures) Bill 2010 will allow the AEC to improve the efficiency of its workload management by enabling enrolment transactions to be processed outside the division for which the person is enrolling.

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Sample Audit Fieldwork

Sample Audit Fieldwork (SAF), which is the process of reviewing a national statistically valid random sample of the electoral roll, aims to provide an indication of the accuracy and completeness of the electoral roll and to test the effectiveness of the CRU process in maintaining an accurate roll.

SAF was not undertaken in 2009–10, because the AEC was reviewing the method and reporting framework to ensure that SAF still meets its intended aims. Because SAF focuses only on mailable street addresses, it cannot provide a complete picture of the accuracy of the electoral roll across Australia.

In 2010–11, the AEC will also consider SAF in light of the findings and recommendations made by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in Performance audit report no. 28 of 2009–10 – The Australian Electoral Commission's Preparation for and Conduct of the 2007 Federal General Election. The ANAO found that:

there would be benefits in the AEC expanding and enhancing the sampling methodology for undertaking habitation visits so as to:

  • attain more reliable estimates at the state and territory level; and
  • assist it to identify the key demographic characteristics of missing electors and non-resident citizens.

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Improved understanding of enrolment behaviour

During 2009–10, the AEC undertook or supported research to improve its understanding of the behaviour of people who are eligible to enrol, so that it can more effectively encourage specific groups to enrol and maintain their enrolment.

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Youth Electoral Study

The Youth Electoral Study (YES) commenced in 2003, with support from the AEC and the Australian Research Council. YES is exploring aspects of the political engagement of young people (aged 17–24), including why they do, or do not, enrol to vote. Findings from YES research, which is undertaken by the Australian National University and the University of Sydney, inform the AEC's youth strategies.

The fifth YES report, Youth, schools and learning about politics, was released in July 2009. This report considers the role that school plays in the political learning of young Australians, and whether this influence supports that of the individual's family or is independent of it. The report found that there are many aspects of the influence of the school which are not explained by characteristics of the home. The report notes:

The influence of the school is broad, including the way academic subjects are taught, the way students interact with teachers, and the extra-curricular practices which occur in the school, such as the informal and hidden curricula.

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Mobilise the Franchise

Mobilise the Franchise was an AEC project conducted in 2009–10 to identify ideas and actions that may help to increase electoral participation. The project generated a strategic framework and sorted through the many possible ideas and actions that may contribute to increasing informed electoral participation. It identified high-priority interventions for immediate implementation and options for medium- and long-term investment. The AEC's education and communication programs have begun preliminary work to implement initiatives suggested by the project, as outlined in Program 3.3.

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Enrolment triggers

To develop an understanding of what prompts individuals to enrol, in 2009–10 the AEC commissioned quantitative and qualitative work to identify enrolment triggers among 18–39-year-olds and examine whether these triggers change as people move through different life stages. The findings from this research will be outlined in the 2010–11 annual report, and are also expected to provide insight into what short- and long-term strategies might be able to be employed to target enrolment activities that will improve the participation rate of 18–39-year-olds.

Preliminary findings were, however, used in the design of the new letters which were incorporated into the CRU program from June 2010, and the AEC website and some of its online awareness-raising material prior to the announcement of the election.

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Enhanced use of technology

Two major technological developments implemented in 2009–10 both enhanced electors' capacity to engage with enrolment services electronically and improved and streamlined the AEC's processing of enrolment applications.

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AEC enrolment SmartForm

The AEC enrolment SmartForm was introduced in September 2009, enabling electors to complete enrolment applications online. Because the Electoral Act requires a signed enrolment application to be submitted, the final submission page of the SmartForm clearly reminds the elector to print and sign a hard copy and send it to the divisional address provided. After seven days, the AEC follows-up electors who have not sent in a printed and signed form.

Use of the SmartForm has grown steadily since the form was introduced, most electors choosing to enrol using the online facility have used SmartForm. By 30 June 2010, 127 303 SmartForms had been submitted electronically. A significant majority of these forms, 74.4 percent or 94 768 forms, had been printed off, signed and sent to the AEC. Some 70 percent of the signed forms were submitted without prompting by the AEC.

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Following a phased introduction across the country, GENESIS (general enrolment, elections support and information system) became operational in September 2009. This release was an application processing facility for all ordinary enrolment applications and SmartForms. It automates the completeness and correctness checking of enrolment applications, eliminates the repetitive entry of information provided on an enrolment application, and automates the process for producing some letters to electors. As a result, the AEC has strengthened the integrity of enrolment application processing.

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Roll products and services

Under provisions of the Electoral Act and, where relevant, the joint roll arrangements between the AEC and its state and territory counterparts, the AEC provides a range of products and services based on information in the electoral roll. Table 13 shows that the AEC succeeded in meeting the quality and quantity targets it set for the delivery of products and services in 2009–10.

Table 13 Performance results for roll products and services, 2009–10
Measures Targets Results
Quality Accuracy in products delivered Greater than 98% 99.9% of roll products delivered were accurate.
Delivery deadlines achieved Greater than 98% 99.9% of roll products were delivered by the agreed deadline.
Quantity Proportion of ordered products supplied 100% 100% of all electoral roll products requested in accordance with legislative provisions were supplied.

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In July 2009, the AEC started to implement GENESIS (general enrolment, elections support and information system), a new electronic enrolment application processing system. GENESIS was developed by the AEC to meet its current and future information management needs, as part of the broad program of AEC modernisation.

GENESIS provides more streamlined and auditable processing of most paper enrolment application forms received by the AEC. GENESIS initiates automatic editing and validation of data, with a strong focus on the integrity of enrolment processing, and generates tailored correspondence to clients. The system retains electronic copies of all forms and data and allows for quick, reliable data checking, including of signatures.

Importantly, GENESIS also supports the new AEC enrolment SmartForm, available at and on the AEC website, which enables members of the public to initiate the elector enrolment process online.

GENESIS was constructed in a web browser format, giving it a very practical, intuitive interface for users. The AEC provided all its staff with training in GENESIS and, following an initial round of training, more than 100 staff from around Australia attended 'virtual classrooms', which delivered tailored training for particular needs.

GENESIS was rolled out over a period of three months, concluding in September 2009. The roll-out was smooth and staff responded well to the challenge of using a new system. By-elections in Bradfield and Higgins in December 2009 were the first 'live' test for GENESIS, which met all expectations.

The AEC designed GENESIS as an 'expandable' system, providing a platform to meet a range of potential future modernisation needs. GENESIS could, for example, be used to run a complete online electoral enrolment system, if required.

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Electronic roll

The AEC produces an electronic roll, updated daily, which is accessible to the general public. People may inspect this roll at the AEC office in any federal division or check their own enrolment details online through the AEC website, using the online enrolment verification facility.

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Roll products for elections and redistributions

The AEC provided data from the electoral roll for more than 70 electoral events conducted during 2009–10, specifically:

  • local government elections held in Tasmania on 27 October 2009
  • by-elections held in the federal divisions of Bradfield and Higgins on 5 December 2009
  • the South Australian state election held on 20 March 2010
  • elections for the Tasmanian House of Assembly, held on 20 March 2010, and the Tasmanian Legislative Council, held on 1 May 2010
  • 58 state and local government by-elections.

Electoral roll products were also provided for the federal redistributions in New South Wales and Queensland.

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Other roll products

Subject to legislative restrictions governing access to, use and disclosure of electoral roll data, the AEC may provide particular electoral roll products to:

  • federal parliamentarians (members and senators)
  • political parties
  • state and territory electoral authorities ('joint roll partners')
  • Australian Government departments and agencies
  • medical researchers
  • commercial companies
  • the public.

The AEC provided some 400 products to the state and territory electoral authorities under joint roll arrangements during 2009–10. Table 14 compares the numbers of electoral roll products the AEC provided to selected recipients in 2008–09 and 2009–10.

Table 14 Number of electoral roll products provided to selected recipients, 2008–09 and 2009–10
Recipient of electoral roll information 2008–09 2009–10
Total 2 452 2 474
Medical researchers and those conducting health screening surveys 36 45
Prescribed authorities under Schedule 1 of the Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 62 56
Prescribed authorities under Regulation 7 of the Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 15 20
Members of the House of Representatives and senators 2 043 2 057
Federally registered political parties 296 296

The total number of products supplied increased slightly in 2009–10. This change in the number of electoral roll products supplied is due to the following:

  • medical researchers and those conducting health screening surveys – the number of researchers requesting an extract from the electoral roll increased. The number of researchers making requests varies annually, depending on the studies being undertaken in any given year.
  • prescribed authorities under Schedule 1 of the Electoral Referendum Regulation 1940 – there was a decrease in the number of authorities requesting information, and some agencies requested information less frequently than in previous years.
  • prescribed persons and organisations under Regulation 7 of the Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 – the number of products supplied increased as recipients received information on a quarterly basis, which had not occurred in the previous two years.
  • members of the House of Representatives and senators – the number of products supplied increased as most members and senators received information on a monthly basis, whereas information was received less frequently in the previous two years. The content of information received was also different for a number of members as they received information for multiple divisions, reflecting the re-drawing of electoral boundaries following the redistributions in New South Wales and Queensland.

Appendix F provides further information on legislative entitlements to access roll products; organisations and individuals that received roll products; and, where appropriate, the products provided and the frequency of provision.

Electoral roll products were also provided to members of the public and government agencies, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In those cases, the data provided was statistical or included addresses only.