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Who Could Vote?

A person was eligible to vote in the 2004 federal election if their name was on the Commonwealth electoral roll by close of rolls for the election at 8pm, Tuesday 7 September 2004.

The electoral roll is a list of all people who are registered to vote at Australian elections. Australian citizens 18 years of age and over (with a few exceptions) must enrol to vote. Voting is compulsory in federal elections and referendums for enrolled electors.

Seventeen year olds may enrol and can vote if their 18th birthday falls on or before election day. British subjects who were on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll immediately before 26 January 1984, are also eligible to be on the electoral roll and vote in federal elections.

The following Australian citizens are not entitled to enrol and vote:

Close of rolls

When an election is announced, there are seven days from the issue of the writs for people to ensure that they are correctly enrolled before the electoral roll is closed.

During the 2004 federal election, a large number of Australians used the close of rolls week either to enrol for the first time or to check their enrolment details and if necessary to update these details. The AEC replied to almost 10,000 email enquiries during this period.

The AEC received a total of 423,975 enrolment cards in the week between the announcement of the 2004 election and the close of rolls date. Of the enrolment cards received in the last week, 78,816 were new enrolments.

There were 13,021,230 people enrolled to vote at the close of rolls for the 2004 federal election at 8pm, Tuesday 7 September. This figure included 17 year olds who would turn 18 by 9 October 2004 and would therefore be entitled to vote. This close of rolls figure compares with 12,636,631 electors who were enrolled at the close of rolls for the 2001 federal election.

Close of Rolls Figures by State/Territory
State/Territory Total Enrolment
New South Wales 4 302 122
Victoria 3 292 409
Queensland 2 463 402
Western Australia 1 237 349
South Australia 1 049 814
Tasmania 339 589
Australian Capital Territory 224 896
Northern Territory 111 649
AUSTRALIA 13 021 230

These figures are accurate as at the close of rolls at 8pm on Tuesday, 7 September 2004 and include 13,803 enrolled 17 year olds who turned 18 by election day.

Comparative close of rolls enrolment figures for federal elections conducted since 1996 are presented in the table below.

Close of Rolls Figures 1996-2004
Year Total Enrolment
2004 13 021 230
2001 12 636 631
1998 12 056 625
1996 11 655 190

Note: All other enrolment figures in this publication are close of rolls figures which have been adjusted since election day to give the exact number of people entitled to vote at the election. The adjustments include electors who died prior to election day and electors removed from the roll but who were entitled to be enrolled for the same division.

Special enrolment

Special enrolment arrangements are available to electors who qualify. The following services may assist electors who have special needs:

Overseas enrolment

A person who is already enrolled to vote at Commonwealth elections and is going overseas with an intention to return to Australia within six years, may apply to register as an overseas elector. This will ensure that his or her name is not removed from the roll and that he or she can vote while overseas. Australian citizens who are overseas and not enrolled, but would have been eligible if they were in Australia, and who:

are able to enrol using a special enrolment form called 'Enrolment from outside Australia'. These forms are available on the AEC website www.aec.gov.au and from Australian embassies and consulates.

Number of voters with a special enrolment at 7 september 2004
State/Territory 17 year old No fixed address Overseas Silent Antarctic Norfolk Island
NSW 4205 1248 4937 12024 21 53
VIC 4208 1149 5025 9888 13 9
QLD 2006 1962 2442 8838 9 24
WA 1510 691 924 7603 11 1
SA 1085 487 606 4760 5 2
TAS 433 330 188 813 13 0
ACT 288 75 1909 1250 0 89
NT 68 123 162 262 3 0
Total 13803 6065 16193 45438 75 178

The electoral roll

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

Certified Lists

The Certified List is the official electoral roll used on election day to mark off the names of voters. Each polling place is supplied with copies of the Certified List of voters for the division in which it is located. The list contains the name, address, date of birth and gender of electors with two black arrowhead markings (clock marks) about a centimetre apart beside the name of each person. At a polling place the polling official will draw a line between the arrowheads indicating that the person has been given their ballot papers. After an election the Certified Lists are electronically scanned to identify apparent non-voters and possible multiple voters.

For the 2004 election:

An AEC newspaper advertisement - Just a note to say we're missing you

Reference Rolls

Reference rolls are also produced following the close of rolls for an election. They contain the same information as Certified Lists (without the clock marks) and are produced specifically as reference material. In accordance with the Act all House of Representatives candidates are entitled to a copy of the reference roll for the division for which they are standing, as soon as possible after the close of rolls. Following the results of the election, successful candidates in the House of Representatives and Senate elections are also entitled to a copy of the reference roll. Reference rolls are also available for public inspection at the relevant divisional office.

For this election:

Each AEC divisional office has an up to date electronic version of the electoral roll for their State or Territory available for viewing. An Australia wide up to date electronic version of the electoral roll is available for viewing at each AEC State Head Office, ACT Divisional Office and the Central Office in Canberra.