Maintain multiple streams of contact with electors to encourage them to enrol and keep their enrolment up-to-date.
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:
Maximising the integrity of the electoral roll is integral to ensuring that Australia's democratic electoral processes function effectively. Key elements of integrity are:
Table 5 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for electoral roll management in the 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements.
|Key performance indicators||Results|
|95% of eligible people are on the electoral roll.||90.9% of eligible people were on the electoral roll at 30 June 2011.|
|99.5% of enrolment transactions are correctly processed.
99% of enrolment transactions are processed within three business days.
|97.4% of enrolment transactions were correctly processed.a
79.0% of enrolment transactions were processed within three business days.
|At least 98% of roll products are accurate.
At least 98% of roll products are delivered by agreed deadline.
|99.9% of roll products delivered were accurate.
100% of roll products were delivered by the agreed deadline.
|Those eligible to enrol have enhanced capacity to access certain enrolment services electronically where legislative authority exists.||Legislative changes which came into effect in July 2010 enabled electors already on the electoral roll to update their address details electronically.|
|Continue to implement the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.||The Indigenous Electoral Participation Program field program commenced regular field work to conduct roll integrity and roll stimulation work in Aboriginal communities in remote, rural and urban areas.|
a Errors in processing relate to those fields on an enrolment form that would impact on an individual's enrolment. Any errors in processing detected by the AEC are corrected and the record is amended.
Both the total number of electors enrolled to vote and the rate of participation by people eligible to enrol to vote increased in 2010–11.
The number of Australians enrolled to vote at 30 June 2011 was 14 141 503, which was an increase of 239 663 from the 13 901 840 electors enrolled at 30 June 2010. Overall, 143 728 net additions to the electoral roll occurred between the announcement of the federal election on 17 July and the deadline for enrolling to vote at 8pm on 26 July 2010. A net total of 443 187 electors were added to the roll since the close of rolls for the 2007 federal election, when 13 645 073 electors were enrolled to vote.
The number enrolled at 30 June 2011 represented an estimated participation rate of 90.9 per cent, an increase on both the estimated participation rate of 90.0 per cent for the federal election and the 30 June 2010 estimated participation rate of 89.7 per cent. The participation rate is based on an estimate of the total number of people eligible to enrol, which is calculated based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics population estimates derived from the census.
Figure 5 shows the trends in the number of electors enrolled and the participation rate for each year since the 2004 federal election.
This figure shows that:
Figure 5 Size of the electoral roll and estimated participation rate, October 2004 to June 2011
In 2010–11, the AEC processed a total of 2 409 850 elector transactions, which add electors to the roll or delete them from the roll. This was an increase of 3.5 per cent in the total number of elector transactions processed, compared to 2 328 661 in 2009–10. An increase in the overall level of transactions was expected, given that a federal election and state elections in New South Wales and Victoria, the two most populous states, were held during 2010–11.
Some 1.4 million of the transactions processed (58.7 per cent) involved changes to enrolment details where electors provided new information, usually because they had moved residence. Figure 6, which shows components of enrolment activity, indicates that changes to enrolment details resulting from a move have consistently been half of the AEC's roll management workload for each of the past six years.
Figure 6 Components of enrolment activity, 2005–06 to 2010–11
Note: The enrolment activities presented in this figure are:
The following have not been included in this figure, as they make up less than one per cent of enrolment activity in any given year:
A significant proportion of the activity in 2010–11 occurred in the early part of the year as electors enrolled or updated their enrolment details in the lead-up to the 2010 federal election. In particular, the High Court's decision in Rowe v Electoral Commissioner  HCA 46, which extended the period for enrolling to vote by one week for new enrolees and by four days for those changing their enrolment details, resulted in the AEC processing additional enrolment applications for electors affected by the decision. An additional 57 732 electors, many of whom were first-time voters, were added to the electoral roll, and a further 40 408 electors had their existing enrolment details updated and were able to cast a vote for the electorate in which they lived.
The High Court's decision also posed the immediate challenge of ensuring that those who had submitted enrolment forms within the extended close of rolls period knew that they would be able to vote on polling day. The AEC undertook a range of activities, including mailing some 89 000 letters to affected electors, to ensure that those electors were aware of their entitlement to vote on election day.
Following the receipt of information from a variety of channels and investigation by the AEC, 'objections' may lead to the removal 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. Objection activity is suspended across Australia from the time when an election is announced until after polling day. In 2010–11, objection activity was suspended across Australia for the period of the federal election, and in New South Wales and Victoria for periods around their state elections. The program was also suspended in some parts of Queensland between January 2011 and April 2011, because of disruption caused by natural disasters. In 2010–11, the total number of deletions and objections processed by the AEC decreased. Total deletions decreased from 460 550 in 2009–10 to 274 928 in 2010–11 (40.3 per cent decrease) and objections decreased from 346 057 in 2009–10 to 150 494 in 2010–11 (56.5 per cent decrease).
Table 6 summarises enrolment activity during 2010–11 for the types of transactions presented in Figure 6, as well as by state and territory.
|Additions to the roll|
|New enrolments||93 819||84 300||45 496||28 858||17 770||4 654||4 370||3 912||283 179|
|Re-enrolments||64 795||61 388||31 828||20 250||7 678||3 422||3 480||2 433||195 274|
|Intrastate movement||203 268||159 570||123 628||58 139||33 930||6 650||3 329||1 445||589 959|
|Interstate movement||36 685||31 149||35 589||12 955||8 459||5 249||9 447||6 122||145 655|
|Intra-division amendment or movement||226 485||156 840||140 465||65 573||50 300||16 794||14 458||7 917||678 832|
|No change enrolment||72 885||72 534||36 381||28 160||18 175||3 019||5 313||2 113||238 580|
|Total enrolment transactions processed||698 850||566 746||413 654||214 934||136 452||39 858||40 429||23 999||2 134 922|
|Deletions from the roll|
|Objections||41 878||60 432||5 697||21 284||15 202||2 952||1 711||1 338||150 494|
|Deaths||40 837||28 981||21 035||9 425||10 418||3 621||1 526||690||116 533|
|Duplications||2 154||1 678||1 110||437||341||109||119||91||6 039|
|Total deletions processed||85 098||91 979||28 296||31 379||26 006||6 695||3 356||2 119||274 928|
|Total elector transactions||783 948||658 725||441 950||246 313||162 458||46 553||43 785||26 118||2 409 850|
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 enrolments for 17-year-olds.
Table 7 shows the top 10 sources of enrolment forms in 2010–11 and indicates where they ranked compared to the top 10 sources in 2009–10.
(rank in 2010–11 )
|Rank in 2009–10||All enrolment forms||Change in enrolment details||New enrolment||Re-enrolment|
|1. Interneta||4||500 616||440 792||30 206||29 618|
|2. Mail review||1||335 541||235 423||55 263||44 855|
|3. Post office||2||258 063||214 397||25 251||18 415|
|4. Federal election polling place||n.a.||151 538||120 508||6 173||24 857|
|5. Division office||5||149 212||121 588||12 232||15 392|
|6. State electoral offices||n.a.||143 379||110 426||21 825||11 128|
|7. Internet – staticb||n.a.||133 157||101 555||17 835||13 767|
|8. Transport authorities||6||115 749||109 691||2 435||3 623|
|9. Citizenship ceremonies||7||74 894||2 944||71 669||281|
|10. State elections||10||35 637||18 786||2 587||14 264|
|Total||1 897 786||1 476 110||245 476||176 200|
n.a. = not in the top 10.
a AEC online enrolment application form, 'SmartForm'.
b A PDF enrolment form, which is provided for those who have difficulty accessing the online enrolment form or who need to send a signed form to the AEC.
Note: Includes new enrolments and changes to enrolments for 17-year-olds.
The top 10 sources of enrolment forms for 2010–11 generated some 260 000 more enrolment forms than the top 10 sources for 2009–10. An increase was expected, given that a federal election and state elections in the two most populous states were held during 2010–11.
The impact of the federal election is reflected in the composition of the top 10 sources of enrolment forms: enrolment forms issued at federal polling places ranked fourth.
The online enrolment application form is replacing mail review as the AEC's primary source of enrolment forms as a result of legislative change and because the AEC's online enrolment application form, which is available from the AEC website and australia.gov.au, is easy to use.
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 correctly enrolled. Table 8 shows that the AEC's targets for the enrolment of young voters and new citizens were not met in 2010–11.
|80% of 18–25-year-olds are enrolled to vote.||77.6% of 18–25-year-olds were enrolled to vote at 30 June 2011.|
|95% of new citizens are enrolled within three months of becoming citizens.||91.3% of new citizens were enrolled within three months of becoming citizens.|
Figure 7, which presents the AEC's performance in meeting the target participation rate for 18–25-year-olds, indicates that:
Figure 7 Target and actual participation rate for 18–25-year-olds, 2005–06 to 2010–11
Table 9, which shows the top 10 sources of new enrolments and changes to enrolment details for young voters during 2010–11, indicates that mail review is the source from which the AEC generates the most new enrolments and the online enrolment application form is the source from which the AEC generates the most changes in enrolment details for 18–25-year-olds.
|Source (rank in 2010–11)||Rank in 2009–10||No. transactions|
|1. Mail review||1||33 900|
|2. Interneta||7||24 080|
|3. Post office||4||21 270|
|4. Internet – staticb||n.a.||14 469|
|5. State electoral commission||5||10 165|
|6. Division office||8||9 068|
|7. Citizenship ceremonies||3||8 017|
|8. Birthday cards||2||7 946|
|9. Federal election polling place||n.a.||4 856|
|10. Enrol to Vote Week||6||2 948|
|Change in enrolment details|
|1. Interneta||3||93 299|
|2. Mail review||1||38 808|
|3. Post office||2||34 610|
|4. Internet – staticb||n.a.||22 314|
|5. Transport authorities||5||22 140|
|6. Federal election polling place||n.a.||21 344|
|7. State electoral commission||4||19 111|
|8. Division office||6||17 548|
|9. State elections||7||4 529|
|10. Resident tenancies||n.a.||1 962|
n.a. = not in the top 10.
a AEC online enrolment application form, 'SmartForm'.
b A PDF enrolment form, which is provided for those who have difficulty accessing the online enrolment form or who need to send a signed form to the AEC.
Changes to the Electoral Act that came into effect on 19 July 2010 reduced the age at which people may provisionally enrol, from 17 years to 16 years. Electors who provisionally enrol are fully enrolled by the AEC on turning 18, and are able to vote at an election should they turn 18 between the close of the rolls and election day. For the 2010 federal election, the AEC sent 12 194 letters to provisionally enrolled 17-year-olds who turned 18 on or before 21 August 2010.
The AEC has found that provisional enrolment allows enrolment activity to be directed to young people in schools, educational institutions and youth events. The reduction in the age for provisional enrolment will enhance the AEC's ability to actively target young people to combat under-enrolment among newly eligible electors.
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 pre-filled with their personal details. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship produces the forms, on behalf of the AEC, in conjunction with the printing of citizenship certificates. The new citizen can return the completed form immediately, through the AEC staff member or the local council representative at the ceremony.
Figure 8 shows the proportion of forms returned within three months of being distributed at a citizenship ceremony.
Figure 8 Target and actual rate of new citizens enrolling within three months of attending a citizenship ceremony, 2005–06 to 2010–11
The target participation rate was not achieved in 2010–11, and the actual participation rate for 2010–11 was lower than the actual participation rate for 2009–10. During 2011–12, the AEC will seek to identify the factors that contribute to the rate of enrolment of new citizens.
The Continuous Roll Update (CRU) program is the most significant enrolment activity conducted by the AEC. Regular mail reviews, in which the AEC conducts large mail-outs to specific electors and to specific addresses where it believes eligible electors who are currently not on the electoral roll reside, are the core of the program. The mail reviews are, in some cases, supplemented by targeted field work. Follow-up activity is also conducted, mainly aimed at people who have not responded to an initial mail-out.
As Table 7 shows, mail review activities continue to be a significant source of enrolment forms for the AEC. Mail review activities continue to be the main source of forms for re-enrolment and are the second highest source of enrolment forms for both new enrolment and change in enrolment details.
During 2010–11, the AEC sent some 1.6 million CRU letters.
The CRU program is generally suspended from the time when an election is announced until two months after election day. In 2010–11, all mail-outs ceased across Australia for the period of the federal election, and in New South Wales and Victoria for periods around their state elections. The program was also suspended in some parts of Queensland between January 2011 and April 2011, because of disruption caused by natural disasters.
During 2010–11, the AEC modified the letters sent as part of the CRU program to inform electors who were already on the roll of the option of updating their address details online. Letters containing this message were included in mail-outs sent to targeted electors in November 2010, February 2011 and June 2011.
This strategy led to a significant increase in the use of the AEC online enrolment application.
In 2010–11, the AEC entered into a new collaborative arrangement with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to promote and encourage electoral enrolment. Under the arrangement:
The AEC also entered into new arrangements with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the supply of passport data, which has led to a more streamlined process for checking passport numbers. Recent legislative changes mean that electors may provide their passport numbers to the AEC as evidence of identity for enrolment purposes. Previously, electors were only able to use a passport number as proof of identity when they did not have a driver's licence. The introduction of new evidence of identity requirements means that the elector can now choose from a number of options when supplying evidence of identity.
Enrolment is not something people place at the top of their 'to do' list when moving and, as a result, people moving house has contributed to the fact that a significant number of eligible Australians are missing from the electoral roll. Electors who have moved and not updated their enrolment details may be removed from the electoral roll, and consequently may not be able to vote in federal, state or territory, or local government elections. In May 2011, the AEC launched a communications framework to encourage potential and current electors to enrol or update their enrolment address details when moving house. The framework will help the AEC to reach the elector through existing channels that are a natural part of the process of moving, such as real estate agents. It includes materials such as a fact sheet that explains both the importance of updating enrolment details and ways to do so.
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, examine whether those triggers change as people move through different life stages, and provide insight into what short- and long-term strategies need to be employed to improve the participation rate of this age group.
Quantitative data was gathered in April and May 2010, before many of the innovations discussed elsewhere in this report came into effect. Final analysis and findings were provided to the AEC in December 2010.
Findings of this research include:
The AEC is using the findings of this research to develop further strategies to improve electoral participation.
In performing its functions under the Electoral Act, the AEC undertakes both ongoing and periodic activities to assess the integrity of the electoral roll. The AEC conducts specific examinations of the electoral roll to:
The Enrolment Quality Assurance Program (EQAP) is a national quality assurance program for enrolment application processing. The program measures whether enrolment applications are processed accurately and in a timely manner.
The timeliness of enrolment form processing is now measured based on all enrolment forms processed, rather than a sample. The AEC will undertake a review of EQAP in 2011–12.
The timeliness of processing of enrolment forms in 2010–11 was affected by the logistical demands of the federal election and state elections in New South Wales and Victoria. Typically, the processing of enrolment forms received after the close of rolls may be delayed while divisional staff undertake other election critical work. Differences in Commonwealth and state electoral laws may also mean delays in processing, as the AEC seeks to ensure that electors are correctly enrolled for Commonwealth and state purposes.
Table 10 sets out the key EQAP results for 2010–11.
|Essential fields found without errorsa||97.4%||Fields on an enrolment form that would affect 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||96.9%||Any other fields on the enrolment form. These fields do not affect an enrolment.|
|Timing of processinga||79.0%||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 per cent of enrolment transactions correctly processed, and 'timing of processing' measures achievement against the target of 99 per cent of enrolment transactions processed within three business days.
Sample audit field work (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 roll and to test the effectiveness of the CRU process in maintaining the roll's accuracy.
SAF was not undertaken in 2010–11, because a review of the SAF methodology and reporting framework, commenced in 2009–10, was continuing, taking into consideration the findings made by the Australian National Audit Office 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 AEC compared and analysed enrolment patterns in the three months prior to the close of rolls for the 2010 federal election and for the 2007 federal election, and found that:
The AEC also examined whether there were any irregular patterns of movement of electors in 'close seats' (that is, electoral divisions where the winning margin is close). The enrolment transactions in 10 divisions were examined to identify any instances where electors enrolled for a division in the three-month period before the close of rolls and then transferred back to their previous addresses in the three months following the election.
The results from this analysis indicated a very low incidence of this type of movement. Analysis of the reasons behind the movements indicated that they were consistent with typical population movement based on life events.
Under provisions of the Electoral Act and, where relevant, the joint roll arrangements between the AEC and state and territory electoral bodies, the AEC provides a range of products and services based on information in the electoral roll.
The AEC produces an electronic copy of the roll, updated daily, which is accessible to the general public and satisfies the AEC's obligations under the Electoral Act to make the electoral roll publicly accessible. People may inspect this roll at any AEC office. Electors may also check their own enrolment details online through the AEC website, using the online enrolment verification facility.
Recent legislative change clarified that the right of inspection of the electoral roll does not include the right to copy or record the roll using electronic means, including taking photos.
The AEC provided data from the electoral roll for more than 60 electoral events conducted during 2010–11, including:
Electoral roll products were also provided for redistributions, including the federal redistribution conducted in Victoria; and redistributions for two New South Wales local government areas.
Subject to legislative restrictions governing access to and use and disclosure of electoral roll data, the AEC may provide particular electoral roll products to:
The AEC provided some 600 products to the state and territory electoral authorities under joint roll arrangements during 2010–11.
Table 11 compares the numbers of electoral roll products the AEC provided to other recipients in the financial years from 2008–09 to 2010–11.
|Recipient of electoral roll information||2008–09||2009–10||2010–11|
|Those conducting medical research or providing a health screening program||36||45||9|
|Prescribed authorities under Schedule 1 of the Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940||62||56||54|
|Prescribed persons and organisations under Regulation 7 of the Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940||15||20||19|
|Members of the House of Representatives and senators||2 043||2 057||1 615|
|Federally registered political parties||296||296||220|
|Total||2 452||2 474||1 917|
The total number of products supplied decreased in 2010–11. The change is due to:
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.
Legislative change introduced in July 2010 significantly enhanced electors' capacity to engage with enrolment services electronically.
Changes to the Electoral Act which came into effect in July 2010 allowed electors who are already on the electoral roll to update their details online using the AEC's online enrolment application form, as discussed in a case study. The online service includes a reminder of the need to provide a signed application for electors in states which require a signature to update state and local enrolment.
The AEC's processing of enrolment applications was improved with the introduction of an agency-wide web mapping service, RollMap, in May 2011. The service, which includes some basic geographic information system tools, will assist the AEC to maintain the address register, an important element in supporting electoral integrity. It will also assist in the management of polling place locations and future redistribution processes.
The IEPP, which started in May 2010, has developed a broad and comprehensive program that will provide a firm foundation for strategies and activities in future. A continuous field program has made the AEC better able to conduct roll integrity and roll stimulation work in remote, rural and urban areas. The program now reaches into almost every Indigenous community in Australia, giving the AEC unprecedented access to the community members, and allowing them to access electoral information, education and enrolment. The 'Community strategies' section of the annual report provides more detailed information about the IEPP's activities in 2010–11.