§ 123. “Each Elector Shall Vote only Once.”

This is a constitutional assertion of the principle of “one elector one vote” at federal elections; it does not interfere with State elections. It will be observed that no penalty is specified for a breach of this inhibition. As noted under section 8 the framers of the section were of opinion that, as every breach of a public statute is a criminal offence, punishable as a misdemeanour at common law, where the statute makes no explicit provision as to the mode of punishment, it was not necessary to encumber the Constitution with a penalty. (R. v. Walker [1875] L.R. 10 Q.B. 355; R. v Hall [1891] 1 Q.B. p. 767. See Note, § 76, supra.)

  ― 471 ―

Application of State laws.

31. Until the Parliament otherwise provides, but subject to this Constitution, the laws in force in each State for the time being relating to elections124 for the more numerous House of the Parliament of the State shall, as nearly as practicable, apply to elections in the State of members of the House of Representatives.

UNITED STATES.—The times, places, and manner of holding elections for..representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereof; but the congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the place of choosing senators.— Const. Art. I., sec. iv., subsec. 1. CANADA.—Until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides, all laws in force in the several Provinces at the Union relative to…the voters at elections of such members, the oaths to be taken by voters, the returning officers, their powers and duties, the proceedings at elections.…and the execution of new writs, in case of seats vacated otherwise than by dissolution,—shall respectively apply to elections of members to serve in the House of Commons for the same several Provinces.—B.N.A. Act. 1867, sec 41.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—Clause 43, Chap. I. of the Commonwealth Bill of 1891, was as follows:—

“Until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the laws in force in the several States, for the time being, relating to the following matters, namely: The manner of conducting elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament, the proceedings at such elections, the oaths to be taken by voters, the Returning Officers, their powers and duties, the periods during which elections may be continued, the execution of new writs in case of places vacated otherwise than by dissolution, and offences against the laws regulating such elections, shall respectively apply to elections in the several States of members to serve in the House of Representatives.”

In Committee, Mr. Barton suggested omitting this list of matters, and substituting “elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament,” but Sir Samuel Griffith thought that would be too wide, and no amendment was moved. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1891], pp. 652–3.)

At the Adelaide session, 1897, the clause was introduced and passed in substantially the same form. At the Melbourne session, after the first report, the clause was omitted, and a new clause (44A) was inserted, practically in the words of this section, but dealing with elections for both Houses. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 1840, 1855. See Historical Note, sec. 10). After the fourth report, the clause was restored in its present form.