Behind the Scenes: The AEC's 1998 Federal Election Report: Foreword

Updated: 9 October 2007


It is with great pleasure that I present this report on the conduct of the 1998 federal election.

The Australian Electoral Commission first published a report on the conduct of the 1996 election as part of its electoral information program. In 1996, this report was provided to a wide variety of interested people in the community including Members and Senators, journalists, commentators, teachers and electors. In addition, we sent a copy to each of the 7 865 people who carried out the duties of Officer in Charge of a polling place on election day.

Judging by the comments we received, most people found this report to be a useful addition to the range of publications produced by the AEC to promote electoral information.

Several readers told us that they were surprised by the magnitude of the task involved in conducting a federal election.

While most people vote locally at a nearby school or hall, the task for the AEC is one of national and even international proportions. 11.6 million Australians voted at the 1998 election. The majority of these, or more than 9.5 million, voted in a ten hour period at one of nearly 8 000 polling places. Later that night, there was an indicative result of the outcome of the election. Many other Australians who could not vote on that Saturday had already participated by post or at a pre-poll centre. More than 65 000 citizens voted at overseas locations ranging from Moscow to Port Moresby.

This edition of Behind the Scenes tells the story of how the AEC conducted all aspects of election 1998.

In my foreword to the 1996 edition of this report, I recognised the contribution of the 60 000 Australians who worked as polling officials and I said that their involvement made the conduct of the election a community affair. Once again, I wish to acknowledge their support in ensuring the efficient conduct of the 1998 election.

I trust that you find this report on the conduct of the 1998 federal election interesting and useful. Comments are welcome and may be forwarded to the Director Information on 02 6271 4415.

Bill Gray AM Electoral Commissioner