The AEC has had an enrolment form available on the Internet for some years, but the legal requirement for a signature meant that anyone using it needed to download it, print it, sign it and send it to the AEC. This requirement now applies only to those who are enrolling for the first time, re-enrolling or changing their name.
In July 2010, changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 gave electors who are already on the electoral roll and are changing their address details the legal option of completing that transaction online. For these electors, a birth date and driver's licence number serve as the equivalent of a signature.
This has benefits for the elector. Fifty-three per cent of participants in the research into enrolment triggers among 18–39-year-olds indicated that their preferred method to update their enrolment details after moving would be 'by updating your address details online at the AEC website'. It has also led to improved productivity for the AEC – as electors input their own information, the AEC needs to conduct less data entry (and does not have to decipher unclear handwriting), which leads to fewer errors and a faster rate of processing enrolment applications.
The online mechanism which can be used for all ordinary enrolment applications is the AEC enrolment SmartForm, which was introduced in September 2009. The enrolment SmartForm is provided with the assistance of the Australian Government Information Management Office and Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, through the australia.gov.au website and the AEC website, www.aec.gov.au.
There has been a significant increase in the number of electors completing enrolment transactions online. The following table shows the number of electors using the Internet enrolment form in 2008–09, when it was necessary to download the form and send a signed copy to the AEC, and the number using the enrolment SmartForm during 2010–11, when those changing their enrolment details did not need to provide a signed hard copy form if they supplied their date of birth and driver's licence number.
|Enrolment form downloaded from the Internet in 2008–09||Enrolment SmartForm completed online in 2010–11|
|Change of enrolment details||124 264||440 792|
|New enrolment||8 207||30 206|
|Re-enrolment||5 999||29 618|
|Total||138 470||500 616|
The AEC will examine whether there are any geographic areas or demographic groups that are less likely to update their enrolment details online to ensure that its range of enrolment services continues to meet the needs of electors.