Back in February 2010 I was making heavy use of the Australian Electoral Rolls on Ancestry. Until you have slogged through polling place after polling place on microfiche, I don’t think you can appreciate how wonderful it is to be able to type in a name and see the person you’re looking for pop up in not only an unexpected polling place, but a different electorate.
You kids today have it so easy…
My use of the electoral rolls is likely to pick up again (not that I have finished entering all the data I downloaded last time!) now that Ancestry have expanded their coverage of Australian Electoral Rolls all the way up to 1980.
There’s something a little eerie about having the electoral rolls go so far. It’s in my lifetime! Although I was still a long way off voting, I have found my parents on the roll and it’s funny knowing that I was part of that household.
How old to vote?
The expansion of Ancestry’s holdings to 1980 raised a question for me. In what year was the voting age in Australia lowered from 21 to 18?
Unfortunately, the metadata on Ancestry is very poor. Changes to voting requirements and eligibility over time are skimmed over with the years that changes occurred mentioned in only vague terms. They don’t mention the voting age at all!
Fortunately, this lack of information had bothered me enough in 2010 that I sought out the answers myself and wrote about it in this blog:
Part one provides a summary of the information and a link to the Australian Electoral Commission's Australian Electoral History page. Part two describes how I was using the electoral roll at the time.
Referring back to my earlier posts, I see that the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1973. This means that I could use the electoral rolls to narrow down the birth year of people who born up to about 1962, who would first appear on the roll as 18 year olds in 1980.