1999 Referendum Reports and Statistics

Updated: 20 January 2011


The AEC is undertaking a number of internal reviews and audits as well as external surveys on the conduct of the 1999 referendum. The results of the reviews will be important input into the planning and operation of future elections and referendums.

The AEC will also participate in any parliamentary inquiries that are established by the Federal Government into the conduct of the referendum.

Operational reviews

The AEC undertook a number of internal reviews to evaluate its performance on various operational processes and arrangements of the 1999 referendum. These reviews were conducted on a State and Territory basis and also on a national basis.

The findings of these reviews will be used in the planning of policies, procedures and services for the conduct of future referendums and federal elections.

Declaration vote issue survey

This survey is being undertaken to determine the effects of changes to the materials and training in the issue of declaration votes.

Automated Postal Vote Issuing System (APVIS)

The APVIS was used for the first time at the 1999 referendum and a full review of its effectiveness during the referendum is being undertaken.

Public Information Campaign Reviews

Internal reviews on all aspects of the AEC's public information campaign are being undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign and to enhance the planning of the information campaign for the next major electoral event.

Advertising research

The AEC conducted tracking research to measure the success of the AEC's referendum advertising campaign in reaching and impacting on the voting public. A total of five national telephone surveys were undertaken before, during and after the advertising campaign.

The research showed that all phases of the AEC advertising campaign succeeded in reaching the majority of Australian voters. Among other findings, the research indicated that among those surveyed:

  • 72 per cent recalled seeing advertising about enrolment
  • 65 per cent recalled seeing advertising about pre-poll and postal voting
  • 73 per cent recalled seeing advertising about the correct way to fill out ballot papers.

The research found that the awareness of the advertising messages peaked at planned times and that on a prompted basis the campaign achieved a reach of 81 per cent of eligible voters.

Indigenous research

Over 100 interviews were held with indigenous people around Australia to examine the effectiveness of the AEC's advertising campaign for indigenous electors. The research found that the majority of electors recalled television advertising with particularly high recall of the television formality advertisements.

One of the strongest findings was that the electors were positive about advertising translated into indigenous languages.

Post-referendum elector survey

The post-referendum elector survey was conducted in the 24 hours following the close of polls. A sample of 1 200 eligible electors were phoned and asked questions about their satisfaction with the referendum process and AEC services.

The survey results found that:

  • the attitude of voters towards polling officials was very positive with their friendliness, efficiency, helpfulness and integrity rated most highly.
  • 94 per cent reported they had no problems at the polling place. Of the six per cent who indicated a problem the most common problem was queuing.
  • 96 per cent of people were confident that they filled out their ballot papers correctly.

Review of the Training of Polling Staff program

A review of the Training of Polling Staff (TOPS) program is being undertaken to further enhance the production and delivery of the TOPS program at future elections and referendums.

A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 6 000 polling officials and over 300 AEC divisional staff who conducted the training.

Internal Audit

The AEC's Internal Audit section provides an independent assessment of operational performance on AEC programs and procedures. For the 1999 referendum, a series of audit reviews are being undertaken in several operational areas.