Electoral rolls for family history research

Download the PDF version of Electoral rolls for family history research [PDF 85 kb]

There are three types of electoral rolls:

  • Municipal Rolls (1888-1949)
  • State Rolls (1842-1929)
  • Commonwealth Rolls (1903 to date)

State and Commonwealth rolls were combined in some Australian States in the late 1920s but Queensland still issues separate State and Commonwealth rolls. The State Library of Queensland holds State rolls for Queensland 1860-1900 and from that date Commonwealth electoral rolls. The State electoral rolls are held by the Queensland State Archives, see Brief Guide No. 8 - State Electoral Rolls.

What electoral rolls are available at SLQ?

Unless otherwise stated the following resources are available on microfiche. 

  • Australian Capital Territory: 1928-2008
  • New South Wales: 1842-1864; 1903-2008 [CD-ROMS: 1903, 1913]
  • Northern Territory: 1922-2008 [CD-ROMs: 1884-1940]
  • Queensland: 1860-1900; 1903-2008; 2012 (State) (Open access level 4 - REFJ 324.9943 ELE) [CD-ROMs: 1860-69, 1870-79, 1880-84, 1889, 1895, 1896, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1922, 1934, 1941, 1949, 1959]
  • South Australia: 1991-2008 [CD-ROMs: 1909, 1939, 1943] 
  • Tasmania: 1856-1900 (imperfect set); 1914-2008 [CD-ROMs: 1903] 
  • Victoria: 1841-1851, 1856, 1899; 1903 to 2008 [CD-ROMs: 1903] 
  • Western Australia: 1901-2008 [CD-ROMs: 1901, 1939, 1949]  
    and  
  • New Zealand: 1853-1946 (imperfect); 1975; 1978; 1981 [CD-ROMs: 1881, 1893, 1896, 1911, 1935]
    See also New Zealand Electoral Atlas (FAMHIS 328.3345 1989)

These can be viewed in the Family History area on Level 3.

Check ancestry.com (Library edition), available onsite only at the State Library, to search across electoral rolls for:

  • Australian Capital Territory: 1928, 1935, 1937, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1980
  • New South Wales: 1842-1864, 1930, 1933, 1936-37, 1943, 1949, 1953-54, 1958, 1963, 1968,
                                1972, 1977, 1980 
  • Northern Territory: 1922, 1929, 1934, 1937, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1980 
  • Queensland: 1903, 1905, 1908, 1913, 1919, 1921, 1925, 1930, 1936-37, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1958,
                         1963, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1980 
  • Tasmania: 1914, 1919, 1922, 1928, 1936-1937, 1943-44, 1949, 1954
  • Victoria: 1856, 1903, 1909, 1914, 1919, 1924, 1931, 1936-37, 1942-43, 1949, 1954, 1958, 1963,
                  1968, 1972, 1977, 1980 
  • Western Australia: 1903, 1906, 1910-11, 1916, 1925, 1931, 1936-37, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1958,
                                 1963, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1980 

Check findmypast.com.au (Library edition), available onsite only at the State Library, to search across electoral rolls for:

  • Queensland:  1895, 1896, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1909-12, 1915 (State) and 1903, 1913, 
                          1922, 1934, 1939, 1949, 1959 (Commonwealth)
  • New South Wales: 1903, 1913, 1935 (State)
  • Northern Territory: 1895, 1906, 1922, 1928, 1929, 1930,1931, 1934, 1937, 1940
  • South Australia: 1939,1941, 1943 (Commonwealth)
  • Tasmania: 1934, 1943 (Commonwealth)
  • Victoria: 1939, 1946 (Commonwealth)
  • Western Australia: 1949 (Commonwealth) 
  • New Zealand: 1853-1864, 1881, 1893, 1896, 1911

For current Queensland electoral roll searches visit Queensland Electoral Commission Brisbane office.

What information is on the electoral roll?

Information on the electoral roll includes the voter’s full name, address and, between 1903 and 1984, the voter’s occupation.

How are the electoral rolls arranged?

  • Check electoral maps for an electorate name.  Boundaries for an electorate change over time.  For 19th century Qld and NSW electoral boundaries there are State Archives guides at the Desk.  Post 1901 check Commonwealth of Australia 1901-1988 electoral redistributions (MFA 328.9407345 1989) held at the Desk in the Micrographics reading room on level 3.
  • Until 1988: rolls were arranged by state then by electorate, division and subdivision.
    Names were then organized alphabetically within the subdivision.
  • 1989: rolls were organized alphabetically within divisions by state.
  • From 1991: rolls were organized alphabetically by name within each state.
  • Post 1901: the State Library holds Commonwealth Rolls: these are organized by state. 

What are annotated electoral rolls and how can they be used?

These rolls are marked with:

  • the new surname of a recently married woman
  • change of address
  • date of notification of someone’s death.

As a result, these rolls can flag which other electorate to search or approximately when someone died. The rolls are held at:

NB:  The annotated rolls are held at the two archival institutions only.

What is the silent electoral roll?

Not everyone enrolled to vote is on the published lists. It is compulsory to be on the electoral roll but not on the published list. Those involved in witness protection programs, police undercover work or victims of domestic violence are some examples of those who will not be found on the lists.

What is the history behind the “right to vote”?

  • 19th Century: a property qualification excluded some people from voting while others who owned property in different electorates could vote in each.
  • Compulsory enrolment: From 1925, voting in Federal elections became compulsory for those over 21, and from 1973, for those over 18.
  • Australian women who were British subjects, 21 years and older, gained the right to vote in:
    South Australia       1894
    Western Australia   1899
    New South Wales    1902
    Tasmania               1903
    Queensland            1905
    Victoria                  1908
    Australia (Commonwealth) 1902  
  • Australian Aboriginal women and men who had been specifically excluded from the franchise in Australia by the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 were granted the right to vote in 1962.
    Source: AUSFOLIO Volume 2, Number 1 SOCOM Educational Resources 1993.

Check the Australian Electoral Commission for additional information on electoral history.

Download the PDF version of Electoral rolls for family history research [PDF 85 kb]

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