Australian electoral rolls
A guide to the Library's electoral roll resources
Electoral rolls list people who are registered to vote at Commonwealth, state, territory and local government elections and referenda. Electoral rolls contain the name, address, occupation (omitted after 1983) and gender of each elector. They are often used by family historians and other researchers endeavouring to trace the names or addresses of people in the past or in the current day.
The National Library has fairly comprehensive runs of the Commonwealth electoral rolls from 1901 to date.
Before Federation and for some years afterwards, there were separate rolls for Commonwealth and for state elections. The Commonwealth Electoral Commission now produces these rolls for each state. Only Western Australia maintains separate state rolls. Enrolment is compulsory, except for Norfolk Island where it is voluntary.
Suffrage milestones in Australia
The first Commonwealth Parliament passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 which granted universal adult suffrage to most men and women over 21 however the introduction date of votes for women in state elections varied
Compulsory enrolment introduced
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 was amended in 1962 to grant all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the right to vote in Commonwealth elections. Enrolment was voluntary but once enrolled, voting was compulsory. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been specifically excluded from the franchise in Australia by The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902.
The qualifying age for enrolment, voting and candidature for all federal elections was lowered from 21 to 18 years
Compulsory enrolment and voting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was introduced in 1984
Using the electoral rolls in the Library
Most electoral rolls are available on microfiche and/or microfilm in the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room on open access. To identify locations, use the Commonwealth of Australia, 1901-1988, Electoral Redistributions [Atlas] which is available on open access in the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room. Alternatively use the Alphabetical List of Polling Places [by state] to identify locations. The Alphabetical Lists are on open access in the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room in microfiche drawer labelled 'Electoral Rolls 1'.
Prior to 1988, electoral rolls were produced in print format and arranged by surname within a division and a sub-division. There is a gap between 1985 and 1987 for all State and Territories when the rolls were not published in print format and the Library received no microfiche copies.
Since 1990, rolls have been arranged in single alphabetical surname lists for each state and territory and have been updated twice a year, usually in February and October. More recently they have been updated annually. No rolls on microfiche have been received since January 2008.