How to access South Australian Electoral Rolls

The Electoral Roll is a list of people entitled to vote. In Australia there are two parallel systems and a Commonwealth electorate is called a Division and within the state they are known as Districts.

Each electoral roll contains names and addresses. Rolls prior to 1980 also include sex and occupation.

• 1851 to 1901 (Colonial Records)
Most colonial rolls have not survived and those that do have the electors listed by electoral district. The franchise gradually extended in this period from the Legislative Assembly in 1851 giving the vote to adult males owning or leasing property with a minimum vale of £100 and the House of Assembly in 1857 enfranchising all adult male British subjects or naturalised citizens residing at the same residence for 6 months. In 1894 women were given the vote under the same conditions as men. Enrolment and voting was voluntary.

Up to 1884 an electoral roll was created for each election by the Sheriff who was also the Principal Returning Officer. From 1887 a permanent roll was established.

House of Assmbly from 1857 to 1901
Commenced Electorate Office Abolished


City of Adelaide Adelaide 1875
Barosa Angston  
The Burra / Burra Redruth  
East Torrens Norwood  
Encounter Bay Port Elliot  
Flinders Port Lincoln  
Gumeracha Houghton  
Light Kapunda  
Mount Barker Mount Barker  
The Murray Wellington 1875
Noarlunga Morphett Vale  
Onkaparinga Woodside  
Port Adelaide Port Adelaide  
The Sturt / Sturt Goodwood  
Victoria Mount Gambier  
West Torrens Adelaide  
Yatala Salisbury  
1862 West Adelaide Adelaide  
1875 Albert Naracoorte  
East Adelaide Adelaide  
North Adelaide Adelaide  
Stanley Clare  
Wallaroo Wallaroo  
Wooroora Alburn  
1884 Frome Orrooroo  
Gladstone Crystal Brook  
Newcastle Port Augusta  
Yorke Peninsula Edithburgh  
1890 Northen Territory Palmerston  
Legislative Council from 1851 to present
1851 Barossa   1881
The Burra / Burra  
East Adelaide  
East Torrens  
Mount Barker  
North Adelaide  
Port Adelaide  
West Torrens  
1882 Central   1915
Northern   1974
North-eastern   1915
Northern   1974
1915 Central No 1   1974
Central No 2   1974
Midland   1974
1974 South Australia    

Electoral rolls known to have survived for the colonial period include:

State Library of SA (North Terrace Adelaide)
District of Burra, County of Eyre, County of Light, District of Noarlunga, District of Mt Barker, District of Stanley
District of Mt Barker
1874, 1884–1891
House of Assembly (see above table for electorates)
Legislative Council (see above table for electorates)
State Records of SA (Cavan Road Gepps Cross)
District of Victoria (Legislative Council)
1869 to 1900
District of Victoria
1874, 1884–1891
House of Assembly (see above table for electorates)
Legislative Council (see above table for electorates)
District of Flinders (House of Assembly), Yorke Peninsula (Legislative Council)
State Electoral Office SA (134 Fullarton Road Rose Park)
1874, 1884–1891
House of Assembly (see above table for electorates)
Legislative Council (see above table for electorates)

Electoral rolls were published in newspapers to 1884.

The SA Government Gazettes from 1876 to 1904 also name people required to establish eligibilty to remain on lists.

• 1901 to 1988 (Commonwealth Records - divisional lists)
The Commonwealth used the rolls generated by the SA Government until the Commonwealth Electoral Office was established (now known as the Australian Electoral Commission) in 1902 was able to undertake the work itself from 1908. In 1920 a joint Commonwealth State roll was introduced. In 1911 compulsory enrolment for federal elections was introduced and compulsory voting came in 1924. Compulsion to vote in state elections was not introduced until 1942 but it did not become compulsory to enrol until 1984. In 1962 all aboriginal voters were given the right to enrol and vote. In 1973, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.

Copies of electoral rolls in book form by division can be readily found for this period as they were available for sale to the general public. Many libraries with an interest in history hold copies. The difficulty in accessing this material lies in the fact that unless you know where the person lived, you will have to undertake a very long search as the voters are listed under their subdivision within each division and there are many subdivisions across the state. Another difficulty the researcher may face is the ever changing boundaries of electorates. People can change electorate without changing their address. You may need to refer to the Commonwealth of Australia 1901–1988 electoral distributions atlas.

Electoral Rolls known to have survived for this period include:

State Library of SA (North Terrace Adelaide)
1901 to 1913
Legislative Assembly
1913 to 1938
House of Assembly - fiche (incomplete)
1939 on
Full roll - books (incomplete)
State Records of SA (Cavan Road Gepps Cross)
1927 to 1967
Legislative council
District of Albert (House of Assembly)
District of Albert (House of Assembly)
House of Assembly
Divisions of Adelaide. Angas, Barker, Grey
House of Assembly
National Archives of Australia (Leigh Street Adelaide)
1909 on
Commonwealth Divisions: Adelaide from 1933, Angas 1928–1946 1949–1958, Barker from 1928, Bonython from 1952, Boothby from 1934, Grey from 1917, Hindmarsh from 1928, Kingston from 1928, PtAdelaide from 1928, Sturt from 1933, Wakefield from 1909

• From 1988 (Commonwealth Records - state-wide list)
Copies of electoral rolls on fiche can be readily found for this period as they were available for sale to the general public. Following the implementation of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Access to Electoral Roll and Other Measures) Act 2004 on 21 July 2004, the sale of the electoral roll in any format was banned. An Australia wide electronic version of the electoral roll is available for viewing at each Divisonal Office across Australia.

Searching for a voter in this period is easy because a single alphabetical list exists for the whole state.

For more details, the reader is also referred to: A guide and index to SA Electoral Rolls on fiche 1884–1913 (incomplete) State Library FH Collection 324.99423 A963 usually located on top of the fiche drawers in the FH section of the State Library.

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