1996 Election Report: Enrolment

Updated: 9 October 2007


The electoral roll is a list of all people who are registered to vote at Australian elections. You cannot vote at an election unless your name is on the electoral roll. Australian citizens over 18 years of age (with a few exceptions) must enrol to vote. Seventeen year olds may provisionally enrol and will be able to vote if their 18th birthday falls on or before polling day.

The only non-Australian citizens eligible to vote at federal elections in Australia are British subjects who were on a Commonwealth electoral roll immediately before 26 January 1984, at which time the eligibility requirements were altered.

The following people are not entitled to enrol and vote:

  • people who are incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting
  • prisoners serving a sentence of five years or more
  • people who have been convicted of treason and not pardoned.

Enrolment cards are available at all post offices and agencies and AEC offices. They may be returned to the AEC by post, fax or in person.

Close of rolls

For the 1996 federal election there were 11 655 190 people enrolled to vote at the close of rolls on 5 February 1996 (this included 8 302 provisionally enrolled electors who turned 18 between the close of rolls and polling day):

Close of roll figures
State 1996
NSW 3 926 293
VIC 2 954 596
QLD 2 082 451
WA 1 077 647
SA 989 885
TAS 325 750
ACT 200 828
NT 97 740
AUSTRALIA 11 655 190*

* Close of rolls figures were calculated following the processing of all enrolment cards received by 8pm on 5 February 1996 and appear only on this page. All other enrolment figures in this publication are close of rolls figures which have been adjusted since polling day to give the exact number of electors entitled to vote at the election. The adjustments include the removal of the names of electors who died after the close of rolls and the reinstatement of eligible electors previously removed from the roll.

Comparative close of rolls enrolment figures for federal elections conducted since 1984 are presented below.

bar graph showing historical enrolment figures

Special enrolment

Some people qualify for special enrolment which provides them with special services related to their needs:

  • people with a physical disability
  • people with no fixed address (itinerant)
  • people going overseas
  • people working in Antarctica
  • Australian citizens resident on Norfolk Island
  • people who believe that the publication of their address on the roll would put their own, or their family's safety at risk (silent enrolment)
  • 17 year olds (provisional enrolment).
At 31 March 1996 the following number of electors had special enrolment:
  Provisional Itinerant Overseas Silent Antarctic
NSW 10882 442 1097 3656 43
VIC 5464 533 1109 3175 61
QLD 2381 432 402 2105 29
WA 2281 201 134 1827 24
SA 2319 197 86 1894 26
TAS 164 59 52 177 89
ACT 702 44 1129 519 18
NT 243 44 78 107 6
TOTAL 24436 1952 4087 13460 296

The electoral roll

After the close of rolls, extracts of data from the computerised roll management system are used to produce Certified Lists of electors, reference rolls and microfiche.

The Certified List is the official electoral roll used on polling day to mark off electors' names. It contains name and address details of all electors. Two black arrow head markings (clockmarks), about a centimetre apart are found beside the name of each elector. At the polling place the polling official draws a line between the arrow heads indicating that the elector has been given ballot papers. After an election the Certified Lists are electronically scanned to identify apparent non-voters and possible multiple voters.

For the 1996 election:

  • 29 084 Certified Lists were printed, and the 148 electoral divisions received on average 196 Certified Lists, each comprising approximately 200 sheets of paper
  • preparations for the printing of the lists commenced in mid-1995 and laser printing contractors were engaged in each State and the Australian Capital Territory at 14 separate sites
  • the Lists were printed on high-speed laser printers and took 12 days to complete
  • 7 million A4 sheets of paper were used for printing the Lists; this was a total of 42 tonnes
  • the smallest allocation of Lists was to the division of Fraser, Australian Capital Territory (136) and the largest was to the division of O'Connor, Western Australia (277).

Reference rolls are also produced following the close of rolls for an election. They contain the same information as Certified Lists without the clockmarks and are produced specifically as reference material. Under the CEA all candidates contesting an election are provided with copies of the roll for the division or State or Territory in which they are standing. Reference rolls are also available for public inspection at the relevant Divisional Office.

For this election:

  • 12 000 reference rolls were printed in total
  • this was an average of 80 rolls per division
  • reference rolls were printed in 3 sites in Canberra and Sydney
  • 2.5 million sheets of paper were used in the printing.

The roll was also produced on microfiche and made available for public inspection at all AEC offices.

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