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Thursday, 3 October 1912

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - Senator Millen is to be commended for having brought this matter before the Senate. It is undoubtedly very important. We are all interested in seeing that our electoral rolls are made as pure as possible. At the same time, I do not think that we can have a. perfect system. I am not sure, from inquiries which I have made, that it is thoroughly understood that persons making application to be placed on a roll are bound to sign their names. I have heard of one person in a household signing cards for all the people in the house. That ought not to be allowed. It may be right to sign for a person who cannot read and write, but other persons should sign their own names on the application form. Later on, it may be necessary to compare absent-vote signatures with signatures on application cards. It must be remembered that our population is a constantly changing one. Only a week or two ago a man said to me, " I must go and send in my electoral claim." I said to him, " Surely you are enrolled already?" He replied, "But I have shifted."' I said, "You ought not to send in a new claim, but apply for a transfer." I believe that he sent in a new card altogether. Perhaps it is a commonpractice to send in new claims when they change their residences.

Senator Pearce - That would not mean putting two names on a roll for the same person. Under the card system, one of the names would be removed.

Senator VARDON - Do the electoral authorities go through all the rolls to see whether new names duplicate old ones?

Senator Pearce - The cards go to the Central Office and are then checked. When two names are found to be enrolled for the same person, the error is detected.

Senator VARDON - I think I could bring a roll to show the Minister that there have been duplications. I am not casting, blame upon the officers. The blame rather rests with electors who do not carry out the law properly. There is no excuse for not knowing the law in this matter. Every man should know what he has to do to get his name on the roll and secure the right to vote. Perhaps the Minister can tell me how the electoral authorities obtain information with regard to deaths. Do the registrars of births and deaths send in lists in order that the names of deceased persons may be removed from rolls?

Senator Pearce - We get a return quarterly from the Registrars-General of all the States.

Senator VARDON - Are they bound to send that information?

Senator Pearce - Yes.

Senator VARDON - That ought to be sufficient. I know that some duplication has taken place, and the total number of instances may be considerable. I cast no blame upon our electoral officers, believing they are doing their best. We should, as far as possible, help them in carrying out their duties. A pure and clean roll is a matter of great importance; and I am satisfied that the officers desire to make our rolls as perfect as possible.

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