Australian Electoral Commission

Electoral roll review

Updated: 13 January 2011

The AEC is responsible for maintaining up-to-date electoral rolls for federal, State and Territory and local government elections. So that the roll can be kept up-to-date the AEC carries out regular roll reviews. Up until 1998, it conducted a nation-wide door knock about every two years to check that people were correctly enrolled.

The costs of reviewing the roll by door knock were increasing exponentially. Also, because of the high mobility of the Australian population, the roll was most up-to-date just after a door knock and became increasingly out of date during the period between door knocks. The door knock was timed to provide an up-to-date roll for federal elections. This timing, however, did not necessarily suit the State and Territory election cycles. After a pilot project, the AEC commenced implementation of a continuous roll up-date process (CRU) as an alternative means of ensuring an up-to-date electoral roll.

Automating the electoral roll

During the period 1998–2002 the AEC developed an increasing number of automated systems to ensure that the electoral roll is continuously reviewed and thereby more accurately maintained. In the past 2 years further developments have been made with the implementation of a Monthly Mail Review System. This system allows for a single monthly mailout to addresses identified by:

  • external data on both potential electors and current electors who appear to have moved address without updating their enrolment (change of address data).
  • internal address data that is extracted from the AEC's Roll Management System (RMANS) where:
    • no electors are currently enrolled (vacant)
    • electors in different surname groups are enrolled
    • enrolment limits appear to have been exceeded
    • outward enrolment activity has occurred (former enrolled address review)
    • no enrolment review has been conducted for a specified timeframe.

Examples of data used in data matching are Australia Post Redirection Advices, Centrelink Change of Address Advices and some State Motor Transport data on new licences.

Last financial year the AEC mailed over 4 million letters reminding electors to update their enrolment details. In many instances where no response was received to the first letter a second letter was mailed. Fieldwork, including door knocks, was also undertaken at addresses where there had been no response to the mailing. In addition, the AEC and a number of State and Territory electoral authorities have enrolment programs, such as those targeting new citizens or 17 and 18 year old school students (for example, the AEC pays a "bounty" to schools for enrolments by their students, and enrolment forms are included in Year 12 Results Advice).

New data sources are being added to the CRU system, and other process changes are planned. These new and existing processes are enabling the AEC to ensure the electoral roll is as up to date as possible at any given point in time.

Removing names from the roll

When the AEC receives information that a person is no longer living at their enrolled address, a notice is sent to the elector advising that their name will be removed if a satisfactory reply is not received. Each year approximately 2% of all electors are removed by this process. Other grounds for removing names from the roll are that the elector is not entitled on citizenship grounds. Any elector may lodge a 'private objection' if they consider that another elector is not entitled to enrolment. Information on the private objection process can be obtained from any AEC office.

Death Deletions

The State Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages advises the AEC of any recently deceased persons. The AEC then removes these people from the electoral roll. Each year over 100 000 death deletions are made to the roll, and in the period immediately prior to elections this activity is carried out on a daily basis.