Return of the Writs

These records are the 'Return of the Writ' from the electorates of Braddon and Bass in Tasmania for the 1967 Referendum.

Educational value

  • Once the results of the Referendum have been tallied, they are formally recorded and signed off in each electorate on the Writ documents by the Divisional Returning Officer.
  • On the day of the referendum as the results are tallied, the Divisional Returning Officer was to telephone the New South Wales Tally Room every 15 minutes with the latest figures of the ballot paper count. The Tally Room is where the results from across Australia would be recorded, tallied (as per the tally sheets you can see here) and inputted into the polling night computer so that the final results could be calculated.
  • Look closely at the Tally Sheets. You can see the count is recorded across 4 columns: Yes, No, Informal and Total. Do you know what an 'Informal' vote is? Section 268 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918) sets out what makes a vote informal; these are just three types of informal votes:
    • the ballot paper is not marked at all
    • the ballot paper has writing on it that identifies the voter
    • in the House of Representatives, the voter has not completed a full preferential vote.

    You can find out more information about the Australian electoral system on the Australian Electoral Commission's website.

  • Once the writs have been returned to the Governor-General, they then sign the Royal Assent enacting the Constitutional alteration as voted for by the Australian people. Can you remember what the term is for a successful referendum vote? For a referendum to be successful, there must be a 'double majority' vote.
  • In the case of the 1967 Referendum, two questions were put to the Australian people. The first question did not achieve a double majority vote. The second question did with the highest double majority vote across the 44 referendums held in Australia to date. 90.77% voted 'Yes' with the majority carried across all 6 states.