1996 Election Report: Evaluation

Updated: 5 December 2007


The AEC undertakes various evaluations of its administration of an election. The evaluations include:

  • a submission to a federal parliamentary committee inquiring into electoral matters;
  • a major program evaluation; and
  • a number of internal reviews instituted by the AEC.

Parliamentary inquiry

When a new parliament meets it establishes parliamentary committees to investigate various matters. The 38th parliament established the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, to scrutinise electoral issues. Its first inquiry is into the conduct of the 1996 federal election and related matters thereto.

The AEC makes a substantial submission to this inquiry. This submission assesses the conduct of the 1996 election, discusses issues raised during the election period, and makes various recommendations for changes to the CEA and electoral procedures to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of the CEA.

Major program evaluation

As part of its Agency Evaluation Plan the AEC is undertaking an overarching major program evaluation of the 1996 federal election. The Steering Committee for this evaluation is chaired by the Electoral Commissioner and includes a senior representative of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

This evaluation has been established to report to the Commission on the efficiency and effectiveness of the conduct of the 1996 federal election. It is intended that the evaluation will be a learning tool to provide performance information on the conduct of the election.

Internal reviews

The AEC institutes a number of internal reviews to evaluate its performance in a number of areas. The findings of these evaluations are used to make changes to its policies, procedures and service delivery in the conduct of an election. Some of these internal evaluations are listed below.

Internal Audit

  • the Internal Audit section of the AEC provides an independent assessment of the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of the AEC's policies and procedures
  • the section undertakes a range of post election audits to:
    • test the effectiveness of election systems and training
    • measure the AEC's performance in the conduct of the election against the requirements set down by the CEA and AEC policies and procedures
    • provide feedback to AEC management and staff.

Advertising Tracking Research

  • during the course of the election the AEC commissioned Newspoll, a private polling company, to conduct tracking research to evaluate the community recognition of its advertising campaign.

The results of the tracking research indicated that:

  • 84% recalled seeing advertising about the correct way to fill in the ballot papers
  • 68% recalled seeing pre-poll and postal vote advertising
  • 60% recalled seeing enrolment advertising
  • Recall of specific advertisements was also high with 50% of those surveyed recalling the AEC's pre-poll/postal voting TV commercial featuring crashing Harley Davidson motor bikes, and 63% and 69% recalling the House and Senate formal voting TV advertisements respectively.

Post polling day elector survey

  • a sample of 1 200 people were contacted by telephone on 3–4 March 1996 by Newspoll. The survey sought information on the AEC's service to electors.

Among the findings:

Approximately 46% of Australians recalled receiving the elector leaflet and nearly 60% read all or some part of the leaflet with 80% of this group claiming the leaflet was useful. The leaflet was considered most useful among first time and young voters.

Approximately 90% of voters had no problems at a polling place, 8% experienced minor problems and only 1% had major problems.

National Telephone Enquiry Service (13 23 26 )

  • the AEC commissioned Levita Research to undertake a survey of its National Telephone Enquiry Service
  • the purpose of the survey was to obtain objective data from a random selection of people to evaluate the quality of the AEC's customer service
  • these findings will be used by the AEC to improve its service delivery, procedures and training so that staff can better respond to public enquiries.

Findings indicate that AEC staff rated well in phone manner and that calls were generally answered quickly (within one minute):

  • 84.7% of staff provided correct, or generally correct answers.
  • 85.5% of staff either provided information immediately, or were able to access it and provide a correct answer.

Evaluation of media relations

  • the AEC commissioned Chartwell Research to conduct a survey of media representatives
  • nearly 100 media representatives who had contact with AEC staff in all States were interviewed by Chartwell to ascertain their perception of the service provided by the AEC, the quality and relevance of its publications, and its management of media issues.

Findings indicate that the AEC managed to exceed the high level of satisfaction found among its media "customers" at the 1993 election. The AEC was praised for its accessibility and promptness.

Evaluation of the Training of Polling Staff (TOPS) program

  • the content and delivery of the AEC's TOPS program is being evaluated as part of the major program evaluation
  • the evaluation will gauge the effectiveness of TOPS and use observation, interviews and questionnaires as methodologies
  • the results will be used to refine and enhance the AEC's ongoing training program.
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