The Voting Rights Ratchet: Rowe v. Electoral Commissioner
7 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2012 Last revised: 10 May 2012
Date Written: September 12, 2011
In Rowe v Electoral Commissioner, the Australian High Court struck down an early cut-off date for voter registration. This commentary situates the decision in the history of the electoral writ and roll closure, and parses the various judgments from an election law perspective. The Court’s decision is not a radical one, but an example of the recent flowering of constitutionalism in electoral law, since the Court recognised an implied universal suffrage in the Australian Constitution. The case represents, like the prisoner voting case of Roach before it, an example of constitutional ratcheting, informed by an underlying conceit that the court is merely protecting against legislative back-sliding, rather than offering a litigational sword to those who want to expand the franchise and political rights.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation