The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is an independent statutory authority established under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The AEC is responsible for the operation of the federal electoral system in Australia, which includes:
The AEC's role at a referendum is to provide enrolment and voting services to enable Australian electors to have their say on the proposed changes to the Constitution.
The AEC as an independent statutory authority was responsible for the machinery of the 1999 referendum only.
At the 1999 referendum, the AEC provided the following enrolment and voting services:
The AEC had no involvement with the campaigns for or against the proposed changes to the Constitution, nor did the AEC have any involvement with the other Government-sponsored public information activities.
The AEC is organised on a geographic basis with the central office in Canberra; a head office in each State capital and the Northern Territory; and a divisional office in or near each of the 148 electoral divisions.
The AEC is headed by a Commission consisting of a Chairperson (who must be a judge or a retired judge of the Federal Court), the Electoral Commissioner (who performs the functions of the Chief Executive Officer) and a part-time non-judicial member (usually the Australian Statistician).
In each State and the Northern Territory, the Australian Electoral Officer (AEO) is responsible for the management of electoral activities within their State or Territory. An AEO for the Australian Capital Territory is temporarily appointed for each election and referendum period.
Each electoral division has a permanent Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) who is responsible for electoral administration in their division. The DRO was the returning officer for the 1999 referendum in their division.