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Australia Voting Registers
Voting registers, or electoral rolls, are a census of those who were eligible to vote. They are valuable because a country-wide census wasn't taken until 1911. Early electoral rolls give an individual’s name, residence, status of property occupation/ownership, and the nature of the rateable property.
Voting rights were tied to property ownership; therefore, all men were not eligible to vote in the early years. Full adult male suffrage was not granted in most colonies until the 1850s and later. Women’s suffrage was not granted in the states until around 1900. Non-British subjects, unless naturalized, were not granted suffrage until the 1940s. Aboriginal suffrage was not granted until 1949.
Electoral rolls were published by each state during election years.
- New South Wales began in 1842 and are nearly annual.
- Victoria began in 1843, but most are incomplete.
- South Australia survive for 1851, 1852, and from 1903 (the pre-1903 rolls were destroyed by fire).
- Tasmania date from 1856.
- Queensland from 1859.
- Western Australia date from 1879, although most pre-1900 rolls did not survive.
The following source provides a list of all known surviving electoral rolls for each state:
- Vine Hall, Nick. Tracing Your Family History in Australia: a guide to sources. Second Edition. Albert Park, Victoria, Australia: North Vine Hall, 1994. (Family History Library Call Number 994 D23v.)
Electoral rolls are arranged by electoral district and subdistrict. They are generally not indexed; therefore it is necessary to know the district where your ancestor lived. Districts boundaries or names could change from year to year, so determining the correct district can be difficult. Directories of an area may show an address that will help you determine the district to search. For information on directories, see Australia Directories. No comprehensive guide to districts exists for any state, although some for specific years do exist.
The Family History Library has some electoral rolls for New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. To find the call numbers for the rolls, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - VOTING REGISTERS
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