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Electoral - Royal Commission on Electoral Law and Administration - Report

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UI'ON 'l'H 8



==== =--- ·-=-=-= Presented by Command ; ordered to be printed, 16th J uly, 1915.

[ Cost of not given ; 950 co pies; :l.pp t•oxim:J.te cost of ai1d pubiishlng,

Printed and Publ ishe

No. 180.-.1!'.9367.


*1. To Excellency the R£ght IIonorable SIR RoNALD MuNRO :U"'EI"tGUSON, ct lJ!ImnbeT of !I is Majesty's JJ!lost Honorable Privy Council, ](night Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint Georg e Governor-General Conwnander-in-Chicf of the Commonwealth of



We, as appointed Cmnmissioner8 by -Your Excellenuy\; predecessor, the Right 1-Ionorable Thomas, Baron Denman, in Cornmissions issued by Letter8 Patent, dated the 20th January, 1914, empowering us to inquire into-( a) the official conduct of the general election of n1e1nbers of the House of

and the elections of Senators held in the year 1913 ;

(b) the method of enrolment and the revision of the electoral rolls ; (c) the prevention of plural voting and personation; and (d) the improvement of the electoral law and administration,

have to report as follows :- -*2. An Interim Report was furnished on the 19th Mard1, 1914.


*3. Your Con11nissioners have examined 175 witnesses, and in the course of their inquiries have held 76 sittings, viz.:-Melbourne, 31 ; Perth, 4 ; Fre1nantle, 1 ; Adelaide, 7; Hobart, 4; Launceston, 2; Toowoomba, 1 ; Ipswich, 2 ; Brisbane, 8; Bundaberg, 1 ; Lismore, 1 ; Grafton, 1 ; Sydney, 5; Goulburn, 1 ; Ballarat, 5; Devonport, 1 ; Burnie, 1.

At all the places visited full publicity was given by medium of the press announcing the presence of the Comnlission in the city or town, and inviting all persons interested to attend and give evidence. A number of ·witnesses, including electoral officers, availed themselves of the opportunity to submit valuable information to the

Commission. \Ve regret to say the press did not take advantage of this invitation.


4. With regard to the official conduct of the elections, we realize that the situation vvas unique, as, in addition to the ordinary general election, there were six referendum questions to be disposed of, and absent voting was introduced for the first time in history. Officers had, therefore, much new ground to break, and

irregularities could reasonably be expected. We are making allowances for these nevv developments, and taking a most lenient view of many minor irregularities. W c cannot, however, overlook the action of the Minister of Home Affairs in having interfered in a most undignified manner with the officers in the Darwin Division, for which he was

a candidate, as the following communications will show:-

The Commonwealth Electoral Ofiicer for Tasmania.

Department of Home Affairs, Melbourne, Ulverstone, 8th May, 1913.

In relation my telegram of oven date, I am forwarding herewith list of proposed election officials, . who known rmrtisans, so111e who have openly taken sides in political matters. These men must not be appointed:-Polling place, Stanley.- Person nominated, ·w. C. Young and T. H. Freeman; suitable persons

for positions, Arch. Ford, Smithton, and Mr. Gourlay, Montagu. Polling place, Trowutta.-PeTson nominated, Samuel MooTc, Smithton; suitable person for position, T. Ryan, Trowutta. Polling place, Forth.- Persons nominated, Mo ses Baulch and E. Vcrtigan ; suitable penwns ioT

positions, W. H. Sayer, Forth, and Dan O'Keefe, Forth. A2



Polling place, K!ndrcd.-Person nominated, Frank Grainger, poll clerk; suitable person £or position, Timothy H ealy. Polling place, Blythe.- P erson nominated, J. D. McKenna. Polling place, Riana.- Persons nominated, local men are available; suitable person for

position, Mr. Alexander, at the Post-office . Polling place, South Riana.- Person nominated, E. McKenna. Polling place, Queenstown.- Person nominated, J. Fraser. Polling place, Waratah. - Person nominated, E. N. Matthews.

Division of Wilmot.

P olling place, HamiJton-on-Forth.- Person nominated, Thompson Wellard; suitable person for position, J. Littlejohn, Secretary Marine Board, Devonport.

In several places father and son are being nominated. This is contrary to instructions, and one must go in each case ; the appointment of close relatives in the same booth is to be avoided.


Minister of Home Affairs.

Department of Home Affairs, Melboume, Ulverstone, 0th Ma y, 191::3.

The Commonwealt h Electoral Officer for t he State of Tasmania.

The follmving persons who have been nominated for appointment as election officials must not be appointed:-Polling place, Gunn's Plains.-Persons nominated, J as . Barker and J. Colhoun; suitable persons for positions, J. Collis, postmaster, and J ames Barker. . . . .

Polling place, Nietta.- Person nominated, poll clerk; suitable person for position, C. "'\VIll.JamR, Nietta. Polling place, North Mottom.- P erson nominated, Robert Scott; suitable person for positiou, P. Eld, North Mottom. Polling place, Preston.-P ers ons nominated, W. Delaney and W. H. Stuart; suitable persons

for positions, an official, Post-office, Ulverstone, and State school teacher, Preston. . . Polling place, Riana.- P erson nominated, Wm. Broomhead; suitable person for the posit iOn, Mr. Alexander, Riana. 'l'he men who must not be appointed are all partisans, some well known and notorious. I am looking through the Subdivisions of Emu Bay and Table Cape, and will send you V l'ord early ri.ext week.


Minister of Home Affairs.

The Minister objected to at least 43 officials on the plea that they were partisans, but int)isted on the employment of a Mr. Ellis, who he admitted took the labour pre-election. The follow-ing telegram from the Chief Electoral Officer to the Divisional Heturning Officer indicated that the Minister regarded as partisans onJ.y those he thought were opposed to him in politics :-

Minister ·wircfl that Ellis is not a partisan, and that he must be appointed to some position in cumwxion elections, but doetl not suggeet that he be appointed Assistant Retu,rning Officer. Appointments below grade of Assistant Returning Officer are in your hands . .

The Minister's action amounted to dictation which almost resulted in a complete breakdo:vn of the electoral machinery for the State of ·Tasmania. This, however, was avoi.ded by the commendable stand taken by the Divisional Returning Officer his Assistant R eturning Officers, as shown in the following telegram from him to the Chief Electoral Officer, and letters from his Assistant R eturning Officers to himself:-

. Kindly inform Minister it is useless dictating who shall be appointed election officials. He is causing c]?a,o::> < :mel every probability of failure of election. I consider his selection of any one immediately person selected, exactly as would if opposing candidate selected officials.

. Letter dated 9th May frmn the Assistant 1 Returning Officer at Stanley, which

reads:- · .

. . Adverting to yo ur letter of 8th May, I, beg to state that the appointment of Messrs . Young and Freeman a-t MoJ?-tagu was by l!l-Y I know Messrs. A. F ord and Gourlay (recommended), and do not t hink that any change Is prei:erable. Mr. T. H. Freeman is a State school teacher there, and, as such, w·ould be debarred from taking part in politics. If officials are to be chopped about in t his manner confusion and chaos will be the only result. . .


Letter received from. lVIr. 0. H. Root, Assistant Officer for Levin,

dated lOth May :-


I appreciate your within memo., but, really, I cannot doas you suggest. I would honestly rather give the whole thing up myself. You have nothing to fear from the appointments I have suggested. I don't care who takes exception, these men are absolutely reliable. I have known Mr. MacPherson, father of the poll clerk, for seventeen years past, and he is a man of high character ; and Cou.ncillor Bingham, the father of the other poll clerk, is widely known and respected in this municipality. If you persist in this

m2.tter, I can only say that those men, with their fathers, will resign. You don't want this. I know it of my own knowledge, and it would be a gross injustice if they did. They have acted for years and years here, and are distinctly to be relied upon. Kindly leave it to me. I will see that everything is all right, and you can rest assured that I would not have made the appointments unless I was quite satisfied as to the . fitness of those appointed.

The situation waR a delicate one for the Chief Electoral Officer, who, unfortunately, did not stand behind the Divisional Returning Officer in his attempt to carry out the election as the law directs. That the position was at one stage acute may be inferred from the following letter sent to the Chief Electoral Officer by the Divisional Returning

Officer:-I am in receipt of yours of the 2nd inst., regarding some comments by the Hon. the Minister of Home Affairs, as to which I am instituting inquiries. At the same time, I must protest most strongly against the 1\ilinister's endeavour to overrule my authority as Divisional Returning Officer. As such, I think the only course for one to adopt is to see in "King O'Malley," who is nominated for election

only the candidate, and not the Minister of Home Affairs. Any other ·attitude would lead to endless confusion. I am, of course, glad to learn if any of the officers selected are accused of partisanship; but I cannot, in common fairness, accept the accusation as proof. I am now inquiring into the matters referred to, and

will exercise my discretion as to whether any alterations are made as "ordered " by the Minister, when I get what informati?n I can gather on the subject. Electorn.l wo rk generally is becoming so onerous that it is often extremely difficult to secure the most desirable persons to act, and if distrust and suspicion is to be their lot when they have at last consented I fear we shall arrive at a deadlock, and have only the most

rabid partisans to choose from. The Minister eventually withdrew his objections to all but two of the officials, admitting quite a number of errors on his part, and the election proceeded without any further friction.

We sincerely hope there will not be a repetition of such conduct on the part of any responsible Minister. INFLATION oF RoLLS.

5. On comparison with State enrolment, the Commonwealth rolls show an enormous inflation, but as there is no legal responsibility on persons to enrol as State electors, your Commissioners turned their attention to other checks. The Commonwealth census has been taken some two years prior to the election, from which the adult population qualified for enrolment was ascertained to be 53 per cent. This method of

checking shows inflation amounting to 163,000. But, perhaps, the more reliable check was the official roll brought up to date at the end . of the year 1913, which contained 67,583 names less than the rolls used at the elections. Under normal conditions the increase for this period (from 31st May to 31st December) would be about 60,000 added

to the rolls. The inflation on the day of election, according to this check, would therefore be about 127,583. IRREGULAR VoTING.

6. It is difficult for your Commissioners to account for all the irregular voting on the 31st lV[ay, 1913. The officers and scrutineers who were selected to make the official scrutiny were only directed to-" Ascertain the name of each elector who is indicated by the marked certified

lists or the marked absent voting roll (or both) as having voted more than once, number on roll, and name of subdivision roll, on which name appears." The scrutiny revealed apparent duplications to the extent of 5,760 in the whole of the Commonwealth, a proportion of which, no doubt, was due to faulty ticking of rolls; which considerably reduced the number of actual dual votes. The check for the subsequent election shows the decreased number of 3,405 under the jmprovecl

method of marking the rolls. The severe limitationf:\ of the Departmental instructions did not permit of investigation as to alleged personation at the polls, and consequently fails. to refute those allegations or irregularities. The gravity of the situation cannot be d1sposed of




by regarding the volume of irregularities us sma:II ; it would not be neces:ary for unscrupulous persons to· resort to cluphcatwn of votes m respect to numes on certified roils in order to vitiate the polls in the grossest manner; all that wn,s needed was to cust votes against t he thousands of names improperly on the rolls.

The present system opens the way r eadily for plural voting, and if an unscrupulous person cares to take the he could vote in each polling pl ace within l1is subdivision with little risk of detectiOn . A copy of the check roll should be made available to candidates as soon after the election as possible, and every apparent case of duplication investigated. This should be provided for in the Act, as suggested by the Chief Electoral Officer, and not left to regulation. The complete marked Division r oils were withheld from candidates; it was therefore impossible for them to ascertain t he number of votes cast in the names of persons who were absent or who did not vote.

Your Commissioners have had an independent co unt made of the Ballarat check roll, and find that the votes r ecorded exceed those marked off as having voted by at least 370. VVe thought this might be an isolated case due to several causes, but later investigations of the Riverina check roll for the 1914 election shows a discrepancy of about 700 votes. As these ar e the only two checks made by the Commissioners, we are unable to say to what extent such errors exist generally. The fact, as brought out in evidence, that the check roll is not considered an official document, and is not used in any way as a check on the number of ballot-papers issued to electors, compels your Commissioners to suggest t hat for the future some attempt should be made to reconcil e t he number of ticks on the roll with the number of ballot-papers recorded before an official declaration of the poll is made. The same suggestion also applies to sex-taHy sheets.

The officials had to accept the certified rolls placed before them as a correct lis t of persons qualified to vote. They could not, therefore, say if there was ill egal voting based on infl ated rolls.


*7. As t he syst em of ticking roils i · said to be t he cause of many apparent dual votes, a universal system of marking the rolls should be adopted, i.e., by drawing a lin e through the number, and connecting it with the initial letter of the smname.


8. In order to maintain continuity of administration, section 5 of the Electoral Act should be amended to provide that the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer be definitely defined. Ministerial intervention in the administration of the Act should be strictly confined to regulations approved by the Governor-General in Council.

In view of t he importance of t he position the Chief Electoral Officer shonlcl be placed on :1 par with Head s of other Departments ·with regard to salary.


*9. It has been declared in evidence that the objection by Governments to giving adequate time _between the issue of writs and the day of election necessary for a thorough preparation of the rolls, and therefore proper conduct of the election is an objection to depriving members of their allowance for a lengthened period, we recommend that the allowance of the members of the House of R epresentatives shall be continued, as in the case of Senators, until their successors are elected. vVe further consider that the period between the issue of the writs and polling day should be eiaht weeks. There is good reason to believe that the whole elections have been on t he borderline of a breakdown owing to the short period between the dissolution and the succeeding election.

·woRD " LivEs," As APPEARING IN AcT.

10. As one qualification demanded by Parliament is that of residence some should be given to The word " Jives," as appearing

m sectiOn 31 Act, mtended to Imply some degree of permanency of residence but the term IS difficult mterpret, and what is in the mind when applying

for enrolment vvould be difficult to challenge, even though It were not quite in accord


with the Departmental interpretation; whereas the term "residence" has a well­ meaning in law, it having been the subject of many judicial decisions in

England and America. vVe suggest that the word " residence" should be substituted for " lived." But for all purposes of the Act a person should be deemed to have resided withiJ.l the subdivision wherein he has his usual place of abode, notwithstanding his occaswnal absence from :mch subdivision, and notwithstanding hi s absence for any

period whilst serving His Majesty as a member of any Naval or Military Force, or in any capacity in connexion with such Force while on active service.


11. Under the prevailing party system, electors must either vote for the party nominee or refrain from voting. Political thought:.; should not be confined in perpetuity to too narrow channels. There must necessarily be many shades of political opinion, which, in a democratic country, should be given expression to in the freest possible

manner. In order that public opinion may be portrayed in distinct broad tones ol t hought, we strongly urge the adoption of preferential voting for the House of Representatives.


12. In view of the large area represented by Senators, a system of proportional representation should be adopted; applying, of co uJ·se, to each separate State.


*13. The Electoral Law should not be forged us a party weapon, but should aim at making it possible for every elector to record hi s vote. Apparently, about 77,000 electors were unable to vote at the elections in consequence of the abolition of postal voting facilities, many of whom would be the mothers of our people, fulfilling the

noblest duties of life, and would have a keener personal interest in the government of the country than many who recorded votes. We therefore suggest the amendment of the Act to provide for postal voting prior to the clay of election, with sufficient statutory safeguards.


*14. If postal voting were introduced there would be no necessity for hospital polling booths.


*15. The provision for absent voting appears to be appreciated by u large number of electors, and as a matter of convenience should be continued. But as the time taken in dealing with an absent vote is about ten minutes, and has caused congestion in many polling booths, provision should be made for absent votes to be recorded prior to, or on,

the day of election.


16. In our investigation we found many persons enrolled more than once in one Division, several on more than one Division roll within a State, and numbers enrolled in more than one State, thus indicating that the card index apparently breaks down under its own weight at the most important period, i.e., just prior to an election, when

it is impossible to deal with the enormous rush of cards. As far as possible there should be a continuity of service of the staff employed in the card-index rooms, so that when men become accustomed to their workthelmowledge gained may be applied in the Department's interest; and there should be a comparison of Inter-State card indices, as there may possibly be many thousands of duplications nndetected under the present system.


17. The evidence clearly reveals the fact that no method of identification exists between person of the claimant for enrolment anfl hi s signature on the card as at present used.

4411 ,

8 ·

*17 A. We suggest that the claim card should be sigiied on one ?nly,. should be witnessed by an elector already enrolled, and amended In the following drrectwn :-¥1ha t is your surname What is your christian

What is your address What is your Are you 21 years of age 0 0

Are you a British-born or !1 natu::ahzed Have you lived in Australia for six months How long have you lived in this State ? 0 Have you lived a month where you novv res1de ? Is your name on any other roll ? Wht'J t was your last address I claim to be enroll ed as an elector, aJlll I declare that all the above statements are true.

Witness : Name­ Occupation­ Address-



*18. Before a person is summoned under the clauses of the Act,

21 days' notice should be given to enable the elector to compl.y w1th the Act. If on the expiry of this period, the person is not then enrolled, proceedings to be taken.


19. Numbers of persons throughout the Commonwealth claim enrolment before they reach the age of 21 years. In some cases enrolment was claimed through ignorance of the law. Where claimants are under the age of 25 years when making claim for original enrolment, the date of birth should be stated.


20. A case in which a person succeeded in impersonating another was discovered at Toowoomba. He voted as an ordinary elector in his brother's name, and without leaving the polling booth, demanded absent voting papers in his own name, when he was detected by one of the scrutineers, who drew the attention of the Assistant Returning

Officer to the irregularity. Unpardonable departmental delay was shown in taking action in this case by way of prosecution. The offender was caught in the act, with the ballot-papers in his possession. He was kept under surveillance by the police from the 31st May until the 28th June, but they had no instructions to arrest him until that date. He escaped, and is still unpunished. In such cases the Divisional Returning Officer should have power to act.


, 21. Sections 172A and 172B of the Act are ·and serve no gooclpurpose. They should be repealed. There are n1any industrial organizations which make no but put the of machinery at the disposal of one or other party,

whilst. the pohtwal organizations must furnish returns. As there is no legal limit to their exper:d1ture, these returns serve no good purpose, except to the inquisitive mind. As each has to a return accompanied by vouchers, it appears

to Insist upon duplications bmng furnished by printers and newspaper -



22. Section 180, sub-section (a) , should be repealed.


Section 181ft. and 181AA should repealed,



24. Parliament evidently intended to prohibit the issue of misleading imitation ballot-pap ers by the provisions of Section 180D of the Act. But here, as elsewhere, the apparent expressed will of Parliament may be set at naught. The following are reproductions of the official ballot-paper and one issued by an organization:-



COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA. The Riferendum ( CO!tsl itution Alter!Ui011) Act.



in t he opposite tho word " YES";

IF HE DOES NOT APPROVE of the proposed law he 1hould MAKE A CROSS in the squaro opposite tho word " NO";

BALLOT PAPER. 1 o-TRADE AND COMMERCE. ·. Su bcniss10o t.o the E lectors of a. proposed law for tbe Alteration of t.he bon&titution, opt iL!ed "00NBT1T UT ION ALTERATIO N (TR AD E AND OOM ME RCE ) 1012."

t ho

COMMERCE> 101 2? "







MA 'tTERSl 191 2?"



BALLOT PAPER. 4.-RAILWAY DISPUTES. Submi ssion t.o tho Eloct<>rs of a proposed la w for t he Alteration of tba Constitution., entitl od " CONST ITUTION ALTE RA T IO N (RA I LWAY DISPUTES) 1912."







of the ConsMtntion.

,pr tl1c




6 .. -NATIONALIZATION OF MONOPOLIES. Subm i8si on to the Electors of a proposed law for Alteration of t.bc Co ustitu tioo, en citlcd "CON STITUTIO N ALTERATIO!f (NATIONALlZAT!ON OF MONO PO Lm S) 19 12."





THE REFERENDA 1.-TRADE AND CQMMERCE. QUESTION.-Do you approve of the proposed law for the Alteration of the Constitution entitled "CONSTnUTION



D Yes No

2.-CORPORATIONS. QUEST ION.- Do you approve oi the proposed law for the Alteration of the Constitution entitled " CONS'TATUT!ON ALTERATION (CORPORATIONS) 19l2" I

.o Yes No 3.-INDUSTRIAL MATTIERSa. QUESTION.- Do you approve oi the proposed if.lW the Alteration of the Constitution entitled " ALTERATION (INDUSTRIAL MATTERS) 1912" f


D Yes No

4.-R.AILWAY DISPUTES. QUESTION.- De you approve of the proposed law for the AUeraticm of the Constitution CONSTrfUTION ALTERATION (RAI!..WAY D!SPUTES) 1912"



Yes No 5.-TRUSTS.

QUESTION.-Do· you approve ,()f the proposed law for the Alteration oi the Constitution entitled "CONSTHUTION ALTERATION (TRUSTS ) 1912" 'l



Yes No


QUESTION .---:-Do yorJ appron ·of the proposed law fe r the Alteration of t he Constitution entitled "COrtSTITUTION ALTERATIO N (N ATQONALISATION OF MONOPOLIES) 1912" 'l

@ 0

Yes No

This case was brought under ·the notice of the Department, and, as no action was t aken to prosecut e, we concluded it was not an infringemel?-t. of the We are therefore at a loss to know what the sectwn Is Intended t o prohibit. In thiS particular case it also transpired that the imprint was a Inisrepresentation, not being that of the actual firm who did the printing.

I ,



25. There was a serious shortage of ballot-papers at some of the booths. Ample provision will, no doubt, be made to meet this difficulty in futme. \Ne suggest that when supplies are requisitioned from one polling booth by another, or from the Divisional centre on-polling cby, they should be forwarded under seal, and by some accredited official. There should not be a repetition of the conduct of the Divisional H.etur.ning Officer for the Division of Oxley who hamlecl a snpply of: ballot-papers to an tllll{])own person, V?;de Questions 5-1:95, Q380- 6, 6390-4, 6831- 3.


26. The system of checking ballot-papers sent out to Divisional Returning Officers has not been effective, indeed, one might say, there has been a lack of system, although returns have been made up to meet certain cases. In New South \Vales a balance \laS struck showing sub stantially conect returns, whereas 200 unused H.eferendum ballo t­ papers were handed to the Commission after the inquiry had started.

In Vi ctoria the distribution seems to be in a similar state, as will be seen by the following :-On the 5th May three mail bags containing 11,575 R eferendum absent vote ballot­ papers were received by the Divisional H.eturning Officer for Echuca. Only two bags containing 7,575 were advised by the electoral office. It was only intended to forward 7,575, and another bag was evidently labelled Echuc<1 by mistake. From evidence it would appeaT that the extra 4,000 were sent some time after the 7,575 , but it was not

until the 12th l\:Iay that the further supply of 4,000 was sent to the o.ther country Divisions, <1nd the extra 4,000, as <1 nutter of fa ct, reached Echuca on the 5th. A mail bag containing 4,000 H.eferendum absent vote ballot-papers was lost, which was. consigned to the Divisional Returning Officer for Gippsland from the Divisional Returning Officer for Melbourne, who acted under instructions from the Commonwealth T.Dlectoral Officer. Although exhaustive inquiries were made by a detective, no tmce of the bag or ballot-papers was ever found. The evidence relating to this matter gives the impress i.on that these ballot-papers were sent direct from the electoral office. The official record s show, however, t hat they wcre se nt by the Divisional :Re t urning Offi cer for Melbourne ont of his stock.


27. Instead of ballot-papers being sent out loosely in packets as <1t present, t hey should be in book form, containing 25's, 50's, <1nd lOO's, each ballot-paper with its butt .numbered consecutively, the voters' roll number being placed by the Presiding Officer on the butt, which should not be compared with the respective ballot-paper unles. · by

the order of a Judge or the President of an Election Tribunal.


*28. If a vote is challenged, and the person who protests against such vote insists that the are not in ,accord with facts, the vote should be in a special

_the electors name and roll number, ancl placed m the ballot-box for

further mvest1gatwn as a protested vote at the close of the poll.


*29. Section lGlB, sub-section (·3), woulJ. be less vague if it provided that the Court shall order a r:count of the whole or any part of the ballot-papers if it is satisfied that such a recount 1s necessary. This also <1pplies to Section 164B, sub-section (3).


*30. Section provide for closing the poll at 7 p.m. As the elections are held on th1s tm:e. w?uld suit all requirements, and would save considerable expense m hghtmg, and m tmm1z e the d<1nger of destruction of records by fire.


. Contingent upon adequate provision being for the exercise of postal

votmg clause 13), we recommend compulsory votmg as a natural corollary of compulsory enrolment. ·



*32. We commend the appointment of Permanent DiviRionaJ lletnrning OffiePr.s.


*33. Though we do not suggest it as a hard-and-fast rule, we think in centres of population, where possible, public Rerva.nts (unl eRs they arc known to be should be appointed election officials.


3t1. Section 198 should be amended by directing the Court to inqnire into the correctness of the roll. VoiDED ELECTIONS. 35. Section 205 should provide that if an election is declared vo itl , the now election

be cotH!ncted on the rolls existing on the day of the voided election.


36. Section 62, sub-section (2), should be repealed.


37 . A provisi.on should be made in the Act so that an objection can be lodged against the retention .on the roll of a name of an elector who has ceased to reside in the subdivision, but a person who is enrolled in any subdivision should not be deemed to have left the subdivision and forfeited his qualifications therein by reason only of

absence from the subdivision, unless he becomes enrolled in any other subdivision. But no such person should be entitled to vote at any election for the subdivision in whi ch he is enrolled, unless at some time within the six months immediately previous to the election he has been actually and bona fide resident therein for not less than six days,

either separately or continuously. In section 70, R nb-. ection (3) (n), the word" Subdiv i:-;ion" sbonlfl be Rubstitute

*38. Sections 94 to 98 should be amended to make provision for a further nomination in the event of death or disqualification of a candidate after nominations are received. APPOINTMENT OF ASSISTANT RETURNING OFFICERS.

*39. Section 124 should provide for tbc Divisional Heturning Officer to appoint Assistant Heturning Officers.


40. Section 61B , snb-section (2), is vague, and should be repe:ded.


41. Section 6ln should provide for " other persons " after " officers."


42. Section 210 should provide that no new regulation shall be made after the is::;ue of the writ. ELECTORAL AcT.

*43. vVe find that too much of the machinery governing electoral matters is left to regulation. The Act should be complete, and express the will of Parliament, leaving as little as possible to regulation.

JOINT CoMMONWEALTH AND STATE RoLLS. *44. As already stated in our interim report, we strongly urge the adoption of joint Commonwealth and State rolls. T.lie system has worked satisfactorily in Tasmania, the rolls for that State being in a more perfect condition than in any other; also a system of small subdivision or polling place rolls should be adopted so as to allow for co-terminus boundaries for Commonwealth and State electorates. If we are to have

electoral reform, it is very evident that enrolment areas must be considerably reduced in size ; they are now too unwieldy for careful and systematic control. It is to be hoped




that the Commonwealth and States will combine and adjust electoral qualifications. Each State electorate should be a distinct portion of on.e or more Federal Divisions, and to be the special charge of. an Assistant Returning _ Officer, who will act as Registrar for the subdivision.


*45. There is a danger of the State representation getting out of line owing to the fluctuations of population. A quinquennial census would obviate the danger. ·


*46. Every facility should be given to electors to offer objections or suggestions re divisional or subdivisional boundaries, but the Commissioners should be the final judges of the distribution, subject to the veto of the Ifou e of Representatives.


*47. We recommend that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for each State be appointed Chief Inspector, and should periodically. visit the offices of the Returning Officers. The Act should be amended to give them power to call a clarmant for enrolment before them for the purpose of examination on any n1atter relating to his claim, and to deal with any irregularities under the Act, such as prosecutions, &c. There should also be a number of subordinate inspectors under the direction of the Divisional Returning Officer.


*48. In any comments on the State of electoral matters generally, we do not wish to attack individual officers. They have done good work under a system for which Parliament is responsible, and which should be put into workable form without delay.

Your Commissioners have the honour to be,

You.r Excellency's most obedient Servants,



J. 0. MACINTOSH, Secretary, House of Rep.resentatives, Melbourne, 3.rd July, 1915.




* Agree only to sections Nos. 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, 17A, 18, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48.

And we furthe.r .repo.rt-(a) Official Conduct of the Elections, 1913. 1. A pe.rusal of the evidence will show that, although all the principal witnesses examined 'Y"ere asked if they personally knew of any dual voting or any case of impersonation, one Divisional Returning Officer replied in the affirmative. He drew the attention of the Commissioners to a case of attempted impersonation at Toowoomba, a person, who had voted as an ordinary elector in his brother's name, before leavin.g the polling booth, demanded absent voter's papers in his own name, and was detecte.d In the act by the officials in the polling booth, and his attempted fraudulent pract1ee was frustrated.

2. When .take into consideration the high percentage of votes recorded, and recollect that proyiSion had to be made to deal efficiently with six Referendum questions at the 1913 elections, we feel constrained, Ml justice to the Chief Electoral Officer and his throughout Australia, to place it on record that we consider

the ability displayed carrying out the arduous duties intrusted to them was 1nost commendable. The evidence taken discloses the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer was solely responsible for the conduct of the 1913 elections, and that he and his subordinate duly exercised their statutory authority, without hindrance, to prevent anything of a fraudulent nature being in by any person or persons.


3. With respect to-(b) Method of Enrolrnent and the Revision of Electoral Rolls, it was ascertained that the existing card index system of enrolment was established in the Commonwealth Electoral Office during the year 1912. The original cards were

collected by the police, who made a house to house canvassl for the purpose of the preparation of new rolls.'l.Owing to causes, such as illness, or absence of electors, it was not without considerable difficulty and some slight delay that cards were obtained from every elector who was entitled to enrolment, and, in order to make up a complete

index, temporary or interim cards (of a distinctive colour ) were 1 placed in the index, pending the receipt of the completed cards, to represent electorsJfrom whom properly completed cards were· not at the time of the canvass It was obviously not

right or proper on the initiation of the card index to take action than that

which was taken by the administration. No one could reasonably expect that an undertaking of such magnitude could be brought into operation and worked in its early stages as a perfect instrument. It, however, unquestionablylserved an invaluable purpose from!the date offits introduction

and prior to the 1913 elections; and with its development and the employment of permanent officials in its maintenance the index has become increasingly valuable and effective. Since its inception, the card index system has been the means o: f: enabling the

Electoral Department to adjust approximately 300,000 enrolments, which would otherwise have been duplicated. In addition to this, it serves the following important purposes :-(i) As at present conducted, it is the principal source of information in regard to the detection of electoral irregularities relating to enrolment .

(ii) It is a valuable source of information to the administration controlling invalid and old-age pensions and maternity allowance systems; and (iii) It is not unfrequently used on behalf of persons in Great Britain and elsewhere who are unable by other means to trace missing relatives. I:rt anticipation of the Initiative and Referendum becoming law, we are of opinion that the card index has a very important prospective use when it will be invaluable

for the purpose of verifying signatures to petitions prior to their acceptance, and so precl'uding any irregular practices that n1ight arise.

4. The evidence given before the Commission by the Chief Electoral Officer, and by Mr. Knibbs, Commonwealth Statistician, clearly shows that, under the existing law, there must be a duplication of names on the rolls, otherwise all persons qualified to vote could not be enrolled, as no less than 750,000 persons change their place of abode

in Australia within a year.

5. With respect to-( c) . I mprovernent. of the Electoral Law and Administration, we think it is that the Chief Electoral Officer, as the administrative and

statutory officer in charge of th.e Commonwealth system, should be intrusted with the administration of the Electoral Act, subject to regulations, and to such actions by the Governor-General in Council, and to such legal restrictions that may, as a matter of public policy, be considered advisable. Further, we consider that the Chief Electoral Officer

should be paid a salary co1nmensurate with the importance of the office he holds. If the course of action above indicated were adopted, we are of opinion that the Government, through the responsible Minister, would retain under the law full control in all matters of principle, policy, finance, and discipline; whilst the acts of the Chief Electoral Officer and the officers under his direction would be governed by regulations

where not provided for in the statutes, and failure on the part of the Chief Electoral Officer would be remedied by the overruling power of the Executive.

6. \rVith respect to-The J l1ethod of Voting,

considerable delay is caused in the polling booths by persons not being clear as to the name of the candidate for whom they desire to vote. To get over this difficulty we suggest that the elector be allowed to take into the booth a list with the names of the candidates he wishes to vote for printed thereon; or, as an alternative, that a party ballot-paper

be provided.

44· '1



7. "\V!Lh respect to-of N frmn the Roll,

we reemnmend that provision should be made in the Act so that an objection may be lodged against the na1ne of an elector on the roll who has ceased to reside in a subdivision, but a person who is enrolled in any subdivision should not be deemed to have left the subdivision and forfeited his qualifications therein by reason only of absence from the subdivision, unless he beeon1es enrolled in any other subdivision, or has left the C01nm.onwealth.

W. lVfALONEY. "\iV. I-f. LAIRD SlVIITli.

And ·we further report-·-With a view to lin1itiug the llUJubcr of . ·crutineers we recoininend t hat e._tch political party should nominate one onJy for each booth or subdivjsion thereof ; th .. Lt they should be adequately rernunerated by the Departn1ent for their service. in beu of the present 1neal allowance; and in centres of population should attend lectures by the Divisional Returning Offtcer or the Assistant Returning Officer pertaining to their duties.

And we further report-


There appears to be a growing practice of conveying electors to the poll. This has caused considerable congestion in polling booths, much 1nore work for certain officials, and n1ay grow into a corrupt practice. Means should be adopted to prevent the engaging of vehicles by candidates, organizations, and other persons for this purpose, but the right of persons using their own vehicles for the conveyance of then1selves or their fan1ilies to the poll should not be interfered with.




Iu view of the fact that no person will be .disfranchised, and the danger of phual voting and duplication being reduced to a minimurn, we recmn1nend that earnest consideration be given to the Systein of Citizen Certificates with Electoral Qualifications as set out on the following pages.




.i5 ,



1. No person will be disfranchised. 2. No rolls ·will be required, as the certificate will be the proof of enrolrnent. 3. The ()normous saving effected by the abolition of rolls. 4. prevention of dual voting.- As each certificat e when votell upu 11 will be perforated or sta1nped with the na1ne of the booth and the date of election, it will be i1npossible to again use the certificat_ e at the election. _

5. Absolute prevention of duplication.- As old certificate has to be surrendered before ne-vv one is issued, dual enrolment is thus prevented. 6. Absolute prevention of i1npersonation.- The fact that an elector before votiug 1nust the question- " Are you the person to whon1 this certificate_ was issued ? "

and if challenged would be required to sign his na1ne to a declaration, so that the signatures co uld be compared, also that heavy penalties would be;ecl on persons illegally in possession of certificates issued to others would prevent i1npersonation. 7. Saving of time.- At the booth -vve estin1ate that the time taken in dealing

·with one elector will be half that taken at present. vVith the absent vote count there will be an enormous a1nount of ti1ne saved. At the present tin1e the greater part of the time involved is occupied in turning up the rolls to ascertain if the person is enrolled. In son1e cases the elector will n1erely state that he is enrolled for, say, "Gippsland"

Division, and perhaps the whole of the 29 subdivisional rolls for that Division will have to be searched before he is located. With this system the whole of t his is clone away with. (See count and check of absent votes.) 8. Enroln1ent of n1inors.-As personal application is n1ade for certificate, the

enrolment of minors, on the plea of ignorance, is prevented. 9. Latest time for. enrolment.-As no rolls have to be prepared and printed, electors could be enrolled up to, say, fourteen days prior to election day. This would give ample time for the " Lost " lists to be printed locally.

10. Ilnproper use of "Lost" certificates.-As each booth is furnished with a list of these certificates, it will be seen at a glance if an elector is operating with one of them, and as a further check he should be requested to sign a declaration and the signature compared with that on certificate. If the penalties covering this were made heavy

electors _would not take the risk of using them .. 11. The main objection to the old elector's-right systmn was the loss of rights. The forn1 of certificate used in this systen1 is entirely different. Being enclosed in a case it is less liable to loss. The losses of Savings Bank pass-books is about one in five years; Citizen Force record-books, about three per regiment in four years; other books,

cards, such as lodge pence-cards, union cards, railway passes, &c., about 2 per cent. With regard to Savings Bank books, it has been ascertained that nearly every second person in the Con11nonwealth has a Savings Bank account.


The certificates will be issued in duplicate, the original to be enclosed in case and handed to the elector, and duplicate to be forwarded to the Divisional Returning Officer, who will keep in subdivisional cabinets in strict lexicographical order all the duplicates of certificates issued.

Each elector will attend personally at the office of the Registrar for the subdivision in which he resides, and on satisfying the Registrar that he is qualified, a certificate will be issued to him. IsoUE OF CERTIFICATES TO SICK AND I NFIRM.

On a written request fron1 a sick or infinn elector, 1vitnessed by a qualified witness , the Registrar rnay attend personally at the elector's residence, or he n1ay forward blank certificates to be filled in by the elector. If the latter course is adopted, the elector 1nust sign a declaration (which will be forwarded vvith the certificate) to the effect that

he is ill or infirm, and return the two certificates and declaration to the Registrar for completion, when the orjginal Vlrill be returned to the elector.


16 .

IssUE OF CERTIFICATES TO PERSONS LIVING IN REMOTE DISTRICTS. On a written request from an elector living in a remote district witnessed by a qualified witness, the Registrar may forward blank certificates to be filled in by the elector. The elector will make a declaration (which will be attached to certificates) to the effect that he is unable . to attend personally at the office I of the Registrar, and return certificates and declaration to the Registrar for completion, when the original will be returned to him.


When an elector has complied with the clauses of the Act relating to residence, &c., he will personally present his certificate to t he Registrar for t he subdivision in which he now resides, and a new certificate will be issued to him. He will surrender his old certificate, which will be forwarded, suitably indorsed, to the Divisional Returning Officer for the Division in which his previous subdivision was for cancellation.


When an elector loses his certificate he will make a personal application for a "sub stitute." The Registrar will obtain from him a declaration embodying particulars of lost certificate, and, if satisfied, V\r:ill issue a " substitute " certificate. He will then advise the Divisional Returning Officer so as dup]j cate certificate can be indorsed, and number added to list of lost certificates. (It would only be necessary to print the numbers of lost certificates for on polling clay, and this could be clone locally.)


When an application is made for a " substitute " certificate at a place other than where original was issued, the Registrar will obtain a declaration from the claimant embodying particulars as appearing on the lost certifi cate, and, if satisfi ed, williissue a " substitute" certificate. He will then forward the declaration to the Divisional Returning Officer concerned, who will :suitably indorse duplicate :of lost certificate, and add number to list of lost certificates.


New certificate to be issued, and old one surrendered and cancelled.


·when an elector changes his address, but is still living in the same subdivision, he will attend at the Registrar's Office and request him to insert new address on the original. rrhe Registrar will do so, and notify the Divisional Returning Officer, so that duplicate in his cabinet may also be altered.



The local Registrar of Births and Deaths to fumish the Divisional Returning Officer with a list of all adult persons who die in the Division. The Divisional Returning Officer will then take steps to obtain the certificate from the next-of-kin of t he deceased person .


· Each postman to furnish the Registrar with a weekly list of all new arrivals and departures on his walk. As each postman keeps an address book, this would not entail much extra work for him. Very heavy penalties should also be imposed.


The elector on entering the booth will present his certificate to the Presiding Officer, who will ask, " Are you the person to whom this certificate was issued ? " While the Presiding Officer is doing this, the poll clerk will examine the " lost " list. If satisfied, the Presiding Officer will issue ballot-papers to elector, and stamp or perforate the

certificate .in space reserved for the purpose (thus showing that the certificate has been voted and takmi by poll clerk. This will prevent the .certiQ.cate being

used agam at the electiOn, and will be th-e n1eans of preventmg dual votmg. Should the electe>r be challenged by the officials, a declaration should be obtained, and the signature compared with that on certificate. (Specimen declaration attached.)



. An desiring to vote as an absent voteT will present his certificate and sign declaratiOn on the absent-vote envelope. The Presiding Officer will compare the

signatures, and, if satisfied, will i.ssue the ballot-papers, and stamp or perforate the certificat e in space reserved for the purpose, thus showing the certificate has been voted upon.


As the particulaTs appearing . on the declaration on the enyelope will be . copied from the certificates, the Divisional Returning Officer will .be able at the close , of. the poll to immediately proceed with the With the present system ittakes at least five minutes to deal . with one absent vote, whereas with this method eight to ten could

be dealt with in that time. Also, . as the. particulars appearing on the . envelope . are copied from the certificate, there would be no envelopes containing ballot-papers rejected. At the preliminary scrutiny in 1913 there were 14,287, and at the 1914 election 16,899 rejected envelopes.




that Certificate No. of

for the Subdivision of Division

which I have just handed to the Officer, ,was issued to me. · ·

Sign ed-

Date I ; .19


I, of declare

that Certificate No. for the Subdivision of Division

of . , issued to me has been lost. If a Substitute Certificate is issued to me,

I und.ertake to immediately forward the lost Certificate, iffound, to the Registrar.* Signed-Date I /, 19

. ·.Penalty ior nou-compliaucc.


I of . ·. declare

that I · unable . on account of the distance to be travelled, to attend at -the Registrar's Office for the purpose of the of a Certificate of Citizenship.' · · · · · ·


:Witness- '· Date I / 19


· I; . . . . , of .. ·

that I too for the purpose of the issue a pf

· . Signed-

Witness · Dat:e I / 1



I l l






STATE_V_i_ct_or_ia __ N I346 0._--=---: ____ ,

Commonwealth of Australia.

• I CERTIFICATE of CITIZENSHIP I · Issued to Macintosh, ] ohn Ord of 55 Mathoura Rd., Toorak M . -------------------------------- as an adult Citizen of the Commonwealth. ]. C. Jo nes Space for Official use (penalties, &c.) __ Da te _ _:2::...:7:..:.: /3::.!./.:c..l::...:91'-'-4 __ _ Division of_ B_a_la_c_ la_v_a ________ 1 Subdivision of Toorak 3- beclare :­·I. I have resided in Australia for six months. 2. I have lived· at present address for one month. 3· I am the full age of 2 r years. . . 4· I am a t 1 b subJeCt of the Kmg. na ura orn 5· I am not disqualified from voting. 6.{I lter¥e He¥eP had a. Certificate. 7· I have a Certificate for the Division of_f_ a_zv}.'!:er . Subdivision of Sth. herewith. 8. My last address was _ JO _Darli,y; 5!._. __ _ __ . South Yarra ___ · _ ___ _ For lnstructio"a see back of Certificate, ACTUAL SIZE. DUPLICATE. Surname_At ___ ac_z_ n_t_os_h ____ Christian names John Ord (in. full) No. IJ46 ,

Substitute • Certificates to be printed In Red.

Place of living 55 Mathoura _R _ d_ . _________________ _ ___ _

(Full postal address)

To orak

Occupation __ C_fe_1_ -k _ _____________ _ _ _ _ _________ _ Sex JW.

Personal Signature _ ] .__O _._ fi _f_{l_ c_ i1_ tt __ o_ s _h __________________ _

State of

Division of Balacl_ a __ v _a _ ________ ___ _

Subdivision of __________ _

Date of ______ _

J. C. Jo11es,

Space for Official use. I Registrar.



. I


INTERiM ,f' REPO RT. ·'"" ,.".?·

To His Excellency the Right Honorable THOMAS, BA:RbN DENMAN, a Member of · · His ··Majestjj's Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the ........ .. MostDistinguished Order of St.lJ!lichael and St. George, Knight Commander

of the Royal Victorian Order, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth of Australia . .


II. We, your Commissioners, appointed by Letters Patent dated the 20th January, 1914, to inquire into- ·

(a) the official conduct of the General Election of Members of the House of ·Representatives and the Election of Senators' held' in the year 1913 ; (b) the method of enrolment and the revision of . electoral rolls ; . (c) .the preve-:ati0-n of plural voting and personation; and

(d) the improvement of the Electoral Law and Administration. ·.

We shall be pleased to report, as directed, more fully at_ a later date ; but· in view of the fact that the Premiers fr0m the various States Will shortly meet in QO]lference with the Prime Minister to discuss matters of interest to the several Gover:n,r_nents, the Commission beg respectfully to.suggest thGtt the of a joint roll of electors for the Commonwealtrr and State elections .be considered .

. We find, on inquiry, as -far as we have gone,. that the only ooj'ectton to this -is the ;:g 1 ifficulty in making the boundaries of the Federal Divisions and the State electorates ( conterminous. · ·

,We consider this may be overcome by . the adoption, by the Commonwealth Government, where practicable, of polling place registration, which would reduce the area covered by·each subdivision roll to such an extent that a number of them could be grouped in order to form a State Electoral District; without disturbing the quota of such district. This, we think, would give each Government absolute control over the subdivision of their respective territories, and. would result in considerable saving of expense in preparing and printing rolls, .and 'would obviate. the necessity for dual enrolment of electors. ··

We further recommend that, where there is a difierence in the qualifications of Commonwealth and State. electors, such electors be identified by a marginal prefix-.

Your Commissioners have the honour to be,


Your Excellency's most obedient Servants,




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.':..EiT·r . \ .