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Qualification of electors.

8. The qualification of electors75 of senators shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives; but in the choosing of senators each elector shall vote only once.76

HISTORICAL NOTE.—This provision (except the words prohibiting plural voting) was introduced at the Adelaide session in the same form, as part of the preceding clause. In Committee, the words “but in the choosing of senators each elector shall have only one vote” were added on Mr. Barton's motion. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 670.) Lest it should be contended that this would prevent an elector from casting votes for two or more candidates, this was afterwards amended by adding the words “for as many persons as are to be elected”—a phrase which later on was rejected in favour of “each elector shall vote only once.” A provision was also added that “if any elector votes more than once, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.” (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 675, 1189-90, 1210.)

At the Sydney session, a suggestion by the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, to the effect that senators should be elected in all the States on the basis of one adult one vote, was negatived by 32 votes to 13. A suggestion by the Legislative Council of Tasmania, to leave out the provision as to misdemeanour, was supported on the ground that the words were unnecessary, because a breach of a statutory prohibition was always a misdemeanour. Moreover, it was thought inadvisable to load the Constitution with penal provisions. The amendment was agreed to by 28 votes to 16. A suggestion by the Legislative Council of Victoria, to prevent disfranchisement of existing voters, was formally negatived, with a view to making Mr. Holder's clause (sec. 41) apply to both Houses. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 416-20.) At the Melbourne session, after the fourth report, the provision was placed as a separate clause.

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