1999 Referendum Report and Statistics

Updated: 20 January 2011

Scrutiny after referendum night

Declaration vote scrutiny

The scrutiny of declaration votes (pre-poll, postal, absent and provisional) was conducted in two stages:

  • preliminary scrutiny: an examination of personal elector details on postal vote certificates and declaration envelopes to determine whether the person was entitled to vote; and
  • further scrutiny: if the elector was entitled to vote the ballot papers were then admitted to the count and were treated in the same way as ordinary ballot papers.

Preliminary scrutiny

A postal vote was accepted for further scrutiny if the DRO was satisfied that:

  • the elector was enrolled for the division (or entitled to have been on the roll) at the close of rolls;
  • the signature on the postal vote certificate was genuine and properly witnessed; and
  • the vote contained in the envelope was recorded prior to the close of the poll.

The AEC was required by law to wait 13 days after polling day to receive postal votes before counting could be finalised. This ensured that electors in remote areas and overseas were not disenfranchised.

A pre-poll, absent or provisional vote was accepted for further scrutiny if the DRO was satisfied that:

  • the elector was enrolled for the division (or entitled to have been on the roll) at the close of rolls; and
  • the certificate or declaration was properly signed and witnessed.

Further scrutiny

Once a postal, pre-poll, absent or provisional vote was admitted to the further scrutiny the envelope was opened and the ballot paper was treated in the same way as ordinary ballot papers. The further scrutiny began on the Monday after polling day.

Scanning Lists of Electors

After the referendum, all the certified lists of electors were electronically scanned to identify apparent non-voters and possible multiple voting.

The scanners identified from the certified lists:

  • whether or not a voter's name had been marked off;
  • the name of the polling place and the issuing point at which the voter's name was marked; and
  • any voter against whose name more than one mark-off had been recorded.

Two reports were produced from the scanning results:

  • a report providing the names of those electors against whom no mark had been shown – these were identified as apparent non-voters; and
  • a report showing the names of voters against whom more than one mark appears – these were identified as apparent multiple marks.

Following identification, DROs wrote to all of these electors seeking details as to why they did not vote or why more than one mark appeared against their name on the certified list.

At the 1999 referendum the scanning of certified lists to detect apparent non voters and multiple marks commenced within two days of polling. Lists were scanned at the AEC's permanent scanning centres in Sydney (NSW, ACT lists) and Brisbane (QLD, NT lists) and at temporary centres in Melbourne (VIC, TAS lists), Adelaide (SA lists) and Perth (WAlists).

The scanning of approximately 30 000 ordinary lists used in polling places nationally was completed within eight working days after the referendum. The scanning of special lists covering absent, pre-poll and provisional voters was completed during the third week after polling following the cut off date for the receipt of postal votes.

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