Annual Report 2014–15

3Performance reporting

Electoral Roll Management

AEC OUTCOME

Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programmes.

  • 1.1 Electoral Roll Management
  • 1.2 Election Management and Support Services
  • 1.3 Education and Communication

Programme objective

Provide Australian voters with access to their entitlement to vote and support for electoral events and redistributions through maintaining an accurate and up-to-date electoral roll.

Under federal electoral law, it is compulsory for eligible Australians to enrol and vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums. Maintaining an accurate and complete electoral roll is vital to the integrity of Australia’s electoral system.

Overview

This section reports on the AEC’s performance in:

  • monitoring and maintaining the electoral roll to ensure its integrity and accuracy
  • continually updating the electoral roll to include all eligible Australians
  • providing electoral roll services that support state and territory electoral authorities
  • providing support to electoral redistribution processes.

Performance highlights for 2014–15 include:

  • an increase in the enrolment rate of 0.9 percentage points, to 93.2 per cent of eligible voters
  • strengthened enrolment business processes and integrity measures
  • delivery of three state election close of rolls
  • commencement of electoral redistributions in two states and one territory.

Included in this section are the results achieved against the key performance indicators across a three-year period.

The state of the electoral roll

The Commonwealth electoral roll is the list of voters eligible to vote at federal elections. The completeness of the electoral roll is measured by the enrolment rate (previously referred to as the participation rate), which is the percentage of eligible Australian voters who are enrolled.

The AEC supports electoral roll completeness by maintaining multiple streams of contact with eligible voters to encourage them to enrol and keep their enrolment up to date. This includes the Federal Direct Enrolment and Update Program (FDEU), the Online Enrolment Service (OES) and the New Citizens Enrolment Program.

In 2014–15, the enrolment rate increased by 0.9 percentage points – from 92.3 per cent at 30 June 2014 to 93.2 per cent at 30 June 2015. This represents an increase of 336 233 Australians now enrolled. Over the same period there was a corresponding decline in the number of eligible Australians who were not enrolled – from 1.2 to 1.1 million. These figures represent a reverse in the long-term trend of declining enrolment.

Table 2 shows the number of voters enrolled at 30 June 2015 and the estimated number of Australians who were eligible to enrol. Figure 4 shows the enrolment rate and the growth of the electoral roll since 2007. The AEC’s target is to increase enrolment towards 95 per cent of eligible Australians. More detailed data on enrolment is provided in Appendix E. The AEC also publishes monthly and quarterly enrolment statistics on the AEC website.

Table 2: Electoral roll and enrolment rate as at 30 June 2015
Australians enrolled Estimated eligible Australians Enrolment rate (percentage of eligible Australians enrolled) Estimated ‘missing’ from the electoral roll

15 195 017

16 295 463

93.2%

1 100 446

Figure 4: Enrolment rate and enrolled population 24 November 2007 to 30 June 2015

Enrolment rate and enrolled population 24 November 2007 to 30 June 2015

Maintaining the electoral roll

Active electoral roll management is one of the AEC’s primary objectives. The AEC delivers an electoral roll management program which maintains the accuracy and integrity of the electoral roll. The AEC’s key priorities within roll management are to uphold integrity, build the enrolment rate, improve administration, enhance stakeholder relations and deliver services in a timely and efficient manner.

Electoral roll integrity

In 2014 the AEC established the Electoral Integrity Unit (EIU) as a section within the Roll Management Branch dedicated to assessing and driving electoral integrity through program design and examining the AEC’s policies and procedures to identify opportunities for enhanced integrity measures.

A key component of the EIU’s work in 2014–15 was the development of the Electoral Integrity Framework. This framework, illustrated in Figure 5, is a key document for the AEC and is intended to guide operations by bringing a practical focus to the AEC’s core values of electoral integrity through agility, professionalism and quality. It consists of a three-layered structure of elements, principles and indicators. Table 3 lists the AEC’s electoral integrity indicators.

Figure 5: The Electoral Integrity Framework

The Electoral Integrity Framework
Table 3: Electoral integrity indicators
Business area Element Principle Indicators

Enrolment

Accuracy

  • Enrolled at the correct address
  • Roll updated in a timely manner
  • Enrolment accuracy (Sample Audit Fieldwork)
  • ABS population movements to Roll update rates

Completeness

  • All eligible electors enrolled
  • Enrolment ratea

Entitlement

  • Only eligible people enrolled
  • Entitlement objections
  • Evidence of identity and citizenship checks passed

Security

  • Data is kept secure
  • Incidents of breaches
  • Silent elector security
  • Appropriate policies in place

Reliability

  • Correct processing
  • Enrolment Quality Assurance Program

Transparency

  • Roll available for inspection
  • Compliance with the Electoral Act
  • Roll access complaints
  • eRoll usage statistics
  • Decision reviews upheld

Elections

Completeness

  • All enrolled electors vote
  • Turnout ratea

Accuracy

  • Votes reflect voter intention
  • Informality ratea
  • Informal Ballot Paper Survey results

Entitlement

  • Only enrolled people vote
  • Only one vote counted per voter
  • Unaccounted for multiple marks
  • Multi-voter AFP referrals

Security

  • Every vote is secret
  • All ballot papers remain live and secure
  • Number of confirmed security incidents
  • Ballot paper reconciliation records

Reliability

  • Votes counted correctly
  • Outcomes of recounts
  • Counting errors identified
  • Stakeholder perceptions of count reliability

Transparency

  • All election processes open for scrutiny
  • Integrity issues publicly reported
  • Number/impact of integrity issues reported
  1. Internal KPIs

In 2014–15 the EIU undertook a range of assessments in relation to electoral roll integrity. These included reviews of the FEDU program and OES.

The EIU also assisted in the examination of a number of allegations of enrolment fraud, and worked towards better systemic detection of enrolment fraud.

Enrolment processing integrity checks

During the close of rolls process for major electoral events, the AEC conducts a series of checks to ensure the integrity of claims for enrolment.

These integrity checks on claims for enrolment include:

  • verifying evidence of identity documents in instances where the document is used for more than one claim for enrolment
  • confirming the number of voters enrolled at a residential address
  • scrutinising unusual patterns of enrolment.

Enrolment quality assurance

The Enrolment Quality Assurance Program (EQAP) is designed to improve the accuracy of the electoral roll by measuring the ongoing integrity of the AEC’s enrolment transactions.

EQAP involves scrutinising a sample of enrolment transactions from every electoral division on a monthly basis to measure their accuracy, completeness and timeliness. Any errors found are reported and corrected, and appropriate actions taken to address any systemic issue identified. Introduced in August 2008, the program is an important component of the AEC’s drive to achieving electoral integrity through an accurate electoral roll.

EQAP results up to May 2015 indicate that 99.7 per cent of essential data fields (relating directly to voter entitlements) were processed without error, 96.8 per cent of non-essential fields were processed without error and 88.2 per cent of claims for enrolment were processed within three business days.

A full description of these results is available at Table 35 in Appendix E.

Sample Audit Fieldwork

Sample Audit Fieldwork (SAF) is a component of the AEC’s roll integrity program that audits the enrolments of voters at a random sample of addresses. It measures the accuracy and completeness of the electoral roll, and enables an appraisal of the effectiveness of the AEC’s program of continuously updating the electoral roll.

A random sample of approximately 30 000 addresses across Australia were selected for doorknocking in May 2015. This sample spanned 74 electoral divisions and included approximately 48 000 voters.

The results of SAF are used to measure:

  • enrolment rate – the percentage of eligible voters currently enrolled in the sampled group
  • enrolment completeness – the percentage of electors who were enrolled in the correct electoral division, but not at the correct address within that electoral division
  • enrolment accuracy – the percentage of electors who were enrolled for the address at which they are living; that is, their enrolment details required no amendment.

Enrolment program activities

The AEC maintains ongoing contact with eligible voters by employing a variety of initiatives throughout the electoral cycle to ensure the electoral roll is accurate and complete.

The most significant enrolment activities are:

  • FDEU and mail review programs
  • the OES
  • targeted enrolment programs (to reach specific groups such as youth and new citizens).

As a result of these enrolment activities, an estimated 93.2 per cent of all eligible Australians were enrolled as at 30 June 2015. These enrolment transactions are depicted in Figure 6.

Direct enrolment and mail review

Throughout 2014–15 the AEC sent approximately 3.2 million letters to Australians who were not on the electoral roll or appeared to be enrolled for the incorrect address. Of those letters, approximately 1.2 million were sent as part of the FDEU program and resulted in over 1.1 million enrolment transactions.

In April 2015 the AEC began using email in place of postal mail to distribute notices when claims for enrolment are approved and a voter has provided a valid email address. Since the introduction of this email distribution method, 40 per cent of all acknowledgement notices have been sent via email, resulting in significant cost savings and better outcomes for electors.

Online enrolment

The OES allows voters to complete a claim for enrolment or update their enrolment details entirely online. Since its inception the OES has grown in popularity with voters and subsequent enhancements, such as the online signature capture that allows voters to enrol and change their details entirely online using the AEC website, have further improved the service. The AEC expects the usage of the OES to continue to increase in the future.

The OES forms a key element in the AEC’s activities within the government’s digital transformation strategy. The OES is well established and delivers a contemporary, convenient and secure way for eligible Australians to enrol and maintain their enrolment.

Targeted enrolment programs

To ensure the completeness of the electoral roll the AEC uses targeted enrolment programs to reach specific groups identified as having an enrolment rate below the national average. The most significant groups are those newly eligible to enrol in Australia – namely young Australians between 18 and 25 years of age and new citizens.

Youth enrolment

Youth enrolment remains a challenge for the AEC as Australians aged 18 to 25 years have lower levels of enrolment than that of the general population. Despite this trend the AEC has achieved increased enrolment rates for this demographic, year-on-year, since 2012.

Figure 6: Enrolment transactions processed

Enrolment transactions processed

In 2014–15 the youth enrolment rate increased from 78.5 per cent at 30 June 2014 to 80.4 per cent at 30 June 2015, just above the target rate of 80 per cent. The FDEU program and the OES have contributed significantly to this increase, due to their user-friendly and interactive nature which meets community expectations for a contemporary enrolment program. Figure 7 shows trends in the youth enrolment rate since 2009–10.

New citizen enrolment

Another important target group for AEC enrolment activity is new Australian citizens. In 2014–15, AEC officers attended 1 562 citizenship ceremonies and collected 105 984 enrolment applications from new citizens enrolling for the first time.

Figure 8 illustrates the trend in new citizen enrolment activity, within three and six months of attendance at a citizenship ceremony.

Electoral roll products and services

The AEC provides a wide range of roll products and services to state and territory electoral authorities, other government departments and agencies, federal parliamentarians, political parties and researchers. These services are provided in accordance with the Electoral Act, under agreement and for an authorised purpose.

In 2014–15, the AEC provided a variety of roll services and products including support for three state elections and 1 834 extracts of roll information.

Table 4 compares the number of voters enrolled in each jurisdiction at 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2015.

Figure 7: Youth (18–25 years) enrolment rate 2009–10 to 2014–15

Youth (18–25 years) enrolment rate 2009 to 2015

Figure 8: Target and rate of new citizen enrolment within three and six months of attending citizenship ceremonies 2009–10 to 2014–15

Target and rate of new citizen enrolment within three and six months of attending citizenship ceremonies 2009 to 2015
Figures include enrolment applications processed to 30 June 2015, but do not take into account applications collected at citizenship ceremonies held at the end of the 2014–15 financial year.
Table 4: Trends in the number of voters enrolled in each state and territory 2014–15
Jurisdiction Size of the electoral rolla Estimated enrolment participationb
30 June 2014 30 June 2015 30 June 2014 30 June 2015

NSW

4 829 713

4 909 611

93.1%

93.6%

Vic.

3 755 132

3 846 097

93.5%

94.5%

Qld

2 883 153

2 987 406

90.2%

92.2%

WA

1 487 402

1 525 424

89.6%

90.5%

SA

1 139 104

1 156 817

94.0%

94.5%

Tas.

365 641

367 044

95.5%

95.1%

ACT

267 782

273 485

95.9%

98.1%

NT

130 857

129 133

80.8%

79.3%

  1. Eligible Australians included in this table at least 18 years of age and are enrolled at federal elections.
  2. Calculated based on the 2011 Census – using revised 30 June 2013 and preliminary 30 June 2014 ABS Estimated Eligible Population data.

State and territory electoral roll products and services

The AEC manages and maintains the electoral roll on behalf of states and territories under agreements referred to as joint roll arrangements. The AEC provides various roll products and services under these agreements. In 2014–15 the AEC provided states and territories with 559 roll information products, known as extracts, supporting 71 state, territory and local government elections. The AEC also provided a range of roll services in each jurisdiction in 2014–15, including:

  • close of rolls for state and local government elections
  • processing of claims for enrolment
  • assisting with redistributions of electoral boundaries
  • enrolment stimulation events
  • liquor licencing polls
  • investigation and actioning of information reports.

The close of rolls for each state electoral event, while smaller than a federal election, presented a significant workload for local and national office staff. The AEC employed a range of strategies to coordinate and manage the close of roll processes, such as shared workload pooling across the network.

A detailed breakdown of all roll products and services provided to state and territory electoral authorities for 2014–15 is provided in Appendix F.

Other electoral roll products and services

Under section 90B of the Electoral Act the AEC is permitted to provide certain roll information to various legislated recipients for authorised purposes.

Members and Senators

Subsection 90B(1) of the Electoral Act allows Members of Parliament, Senators and House of Representatives candidates to receive electoral roll information. The AEC provided 427 roll extracts in 2014–15. A full breakdown of roll information provided to Members and Senators is available in Appendix B.

Political parties

Federally registered political parties are entitled to receive electoral roll information in accordance with subsection 90B(1) of the Electoral Act. In 2014–15, the AEC provided 314 roll extracts to registered political parties. A full breakdown of roll information provided to registered political parties is available in Appendix C.

Government departments and agencies

Government departments and agencies are entitled to receive electoral roll information if they are a ‘prescribed authority’, under item 4 of subsection 90B(4) of the Electoral Act.

The AEC provided 46 roll extracts to 13 government departments and agencies in 2014–15. Each department and agency provided justification for access by reference to its statutory functions and the Privacy Act 1988. A full breakdown of roll information provided to government departments and agencies is available in Table 28 in Appendix D.

Researchers

Medical and electoral researchers are permitted access to electoral roll information under item 2 of subsection 90B(4) of the Electoral Act. This information is commonly used to identify participants for research projects and mail surveys. Before they can access roll data, researchers must undergo an approval process, including scrutiny by a human research ethics committee and agreement on how the data will be used and protected.

In 2014–15 seven medical researchers and one electoral researcher received electoral roll information. A full breakdown of roll information provided to researchers is provided in Table 29 in Appendix D.

Private sector organisations

Under items 5, 6 and 7 of subsection 90B(4) of the Electoral Act, private sector organisations may receive roll information for identity verification processes related to the Financial Transactions Reports Act 1988 and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. The AEC provided 14 roll extracts to private sector organisations. A full break down is available in Table 30 in Appendix D.

Redistributions

Electoral boundaries are periodically ‘redistributed’ (that is, redrawn) in accordance with Part IV of the Electoral Act. The purpose of an electoral redistribution is to ensure that, as nearly as practicable, there are an equal number of voters in each electoral division for a given state or territory.

Determining the number of members in the House of Representatives

The number of members to be elected to the House of Representatives for each state and territory is usually determined after each federal election. During the 13 month after the first meeting of the newly elected House of Representatives the Electoral Commissioner is required to ascertain the population of the Commonwealth (excluding the territories) according to the latest official statistics available from the Australian Statistician.

This is then used to determine how many members of the House of Representatives (electoral divisions) each state is entitled to. A similar exercise is conducted to calculate the number of members each territory is entitled to.

This determination may result in a change in the number of members in the House of Representatives to which a state or territory is entitled, which will lead to a redistribution in that state or territory.

A redistribution is also required when:

  • the number of voters in more than one third of the electoral divisions of a state (or one of the electoral divisions in the ACT or NT) deviates from the average divisional enrolment by over ten per cent for a period of more than two months
  • a period of seven years has elapsed since the last redistribution.

On 13 November 2014, the then acting Electoral Commissioner determined that the number of members to be elected to the House of Representatives at the next federal election would remain at 150 members but the entitlement for New South Wales would decrease from 48 to 47 members and the entitlement for Western Australia would increase from 15 to 16 members.

This decision was made in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Act and was announced in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette.

Redistributions underway in 2014–15

Redistributions commenced in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in 2014–15, as illustrated in Table 5.

The Redistribution Committees and the augmented Electoral Commissions will release their proposals and finalise the electoral boundaries during 2015–16.

Table 5: Summary of electoral redistributions commenced in 2014–15
  New South Wales Western Australia Australian Capital Territory

Basis for Electoral Commissioner’s determination triggering a redistribution

Decreased entitlement to House of Representatives electoral divisions (from 48 to 47)

Increased entitlement to House of Representatives electoral divisions (from 15 to 16)

More than seven years had elapsed since the last redistribution was determined. The ACT retained its entitlement to two members of the House of Representatives

Direction to commence redistribution

1 December 2014

1 December 2014

1 December 2014

Public input relating to the redistribution

23 written suggestions were received between 22 April and 22 May 2015

27 written suggestions were received between 11 March and 10 April 2015

Eight written suggestions were received between 29 April and 29 May 2015

157 written comments on suggestions were received between 25 May and 5 June 2015

16 written comments on suggestions were received between 13 April and 24 April 2015

Two written comments on suggestions were received between 1 June and 12 June 2015

Assistance provided by the AEC

The AEC provides administrative assistance to the two bodies established to conduct each redistribution.

  • The Redistribution Committee which is responsible for making a proposed redistribution. It is comprised of the Electoral Commissioner, the relevant Australian Electoral Officer (for the ACT this is the senior Divisional Returning Officer for the ACT) the Surveyor-General (or equivalent officer) and the Auditor-General of the relevant state or territory.
  • The augmented Electoral Commission considers any objections to a proposed redistribution and makes a final determination of the names and boundaries of the redistributed electoral divisions. It is comprised of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, the non-judicial member of the Electoral Commission and the members of the Redistribution Committee.

The AEC assisted the Redistribution Committees for New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory by:

  • analysing demographic and enrolment data
  • facilitating the public consultation process
  • providing support for committee meetings
  • producing and publishing (including on the AEC website) information about the redistribution process
  • preparing legal instruments, background research papers, analysis of public submissions and material for publication in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette.

Members of the Redistribution Committees for New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory reported a high level of satisfaction with the services provided by the AEC.

Programme 1.1 Electoral Roll Management – key performance indicators
Key performance indicators 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15

Increase enrolment towards 95% of eligible people on the electoral roll.a

Not achieved

91.4%

Not achieved

92.3%

Achieved

93.2%

99.5% of enrolment transactions are correctly processed.

Achieved

99.6%

Achieved

99.6%

Achieved

99.8%

At least 98% of roll products are accurate.

Achieved

98.8%

Achieved

100%

Achieved

100%

At least 98% of roll products delivered by agreed deadline.

Achieved

100%

Achieved

100%

Achieved

100%

Those eligible to enrol have enhanced capacity to access certain enrolment services electronically where legislative authority exists.

Achieved

Enhanced online enrolment service capturing online electronic signatures and continued collaboration with Australia Post.

Achieved

Increased use of online enrolment service for transactions.

Achieved

Increasing use of online enrolment service for transactions.

Support services provided by the AEC are appropriate and allow for the effective and timely conduct of redistribution activities.

Achieved

Support services provided in a timely manner, in accordance with legislative requirements and to the satisfaction of redistributions committees.

Not applicable

No redistributions were conducted.

Achieved

Support services provided in a timely manner, in accordance with legislative requirements and to the satisfaction of redistribution committees.

Redistribution support services comply with legislative requirements and are to the satisfaction of redistribution committees.

Achieved

Support services provided in a timely manner, in accordance with legislative requirements and to the satisfaction of redistributions committees.

Not applicable

No redistributions were conducted.

Achieved

Support services provided in a timely manner, in accordance with legislative requirements and to the satisfaction of redistribution committees.

  1. The Department of Finance Portfolio Budget Statement 2014–15 changed this KPI from ‘95% of eligible people’ to ‘towards 95% of eligible people’.