31 January 2017

Australian Electoral Roll Indexes, and Who Could Vote

You can do either a name search or an address search in the Australian electoral rolls collection at FindMyPast.

The search page explains which State and Commonwealth rolls are included. More will be added in the future, but right now (31 Jan 2017) these are available:
  • Queensland:  State electoral rolls 1860-1884, and Commonwealth electoral rolls 1895-1915 and 1903, 1906, 1913, 1922, 1934, 1941, 1949 and 1959. Only 45% have images of original rolls, but transcriptions for 1860-1884, 1903, 1913, 1922, 1934, 1949 and 1959 are very useful.

  • New South Wales:  State electoral rolls 1903 and 1913, and Commonwealth electoral rolls 1935. 100% have images.

  • South Australia:  Commonwealth electoral rolls 1939, 1941 and 1943. 100% have images.

  • Western Australia:  Commonwealth electoral rolls 1939, 1943 and 1949. 100% have images.

  • Tasmania:  Commonwealth electoral rolls 1916, 1934 and 1943. 66% have images.

  • Northern Territory:  1895, 1906, 1922, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1937 and 1940. No images.

  • Victoria:  Currently available as a browse-only set.

Index searches are free. To see transcriptions or images of original records, I recommend either a one-month or twelve-month subscription ('World' or 'Australia').

* Who could vote *

Details below are derived from Electoral Pocketbook (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005).
  • 1901:  State franchises applied at the first federal election (NSW, VIC, QLD, TAS men over 21 years; SA and WA men and women over 21 years). Enrolment and voting were voluntary.
  • 1902:  Most men and women over 21 years were allowed to vote at federal elections. However, Aboriginal natives of Australia, Asia, Africa or the Pacific islands except New Zealand were excluded from enrolment and voting unless they already had the franchise at State level. Women over 21 years were allowed to vote in NSW elections.
  • 1903:  Women over 21 years were allowed to vote in TAS elections.
  • 1905:  Women over 21 years were allowed to vote in QLD elections.
  • 1908:  Women over 21 years were allowed to vote in VIC elections.
  • 1911:  Enrolment (but not voting) became compulsory.
  • 1915:  Queensland introduced compulsory voting in State elections.
  • 1920:  Nationality Act 1920 gave British subjects all political and other rights, but South Sea Islanders were still unable to vote despite being British subjects.
  • 1924:  Voting at federal elections became compulsory. Enrolment had been compulsory since 1911.
  • 1925:  Natives of British India living in Australia were allowed to vote.
  • 1949:  Aboriginal people were given the right to vote at federal elections provided that they were entitled to enrol for State elections or had served in the Defence Forces.
  • 1962:  All Aboriginal people became entitled to enrol and vote at federal elections.
  • 1973:  Qualifying age for enrolment for federal elections was lowered from 21 years to 18 years.
  • 1984:  Enrolment and voting for Aboriginal people became compulsory. Franchise qualification changed to Australian Citizenship (but British subjects on the roll immediately before 26 Jan 1984 retained enrolment rights).

Queensland has four separate series of electoral enrolment records. Differences and advantages are explained on Queensland Genealogy and Archives Research Tips.

This is the address search screen at FindMyPast.


If you can't find someone in the Australian electoral rolls collection at FindMyPast, check (on that page) the list of records included in the collection at that time, and (above) the legislation regarding who could enrol to vote. You should also try the electoral rolls on Ancestry.com.

I've seen a case where a man used his real name on State electoral rolls and a completely different name on Commonwealth rolls. I only discovered that after I saw the alias mentioned in his Supreme Court probate file. If you've found any big surprises in electoral rolls, I'd love to hear about them.

(This post first appeared on http://uk-australia.blogspot.com/2017/01/australian-electoral-roll-indexes-and.html.)
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