Ancestry has just released what I assume will be the first of many electoral rolls for New South Wales and other states. So far only 1930 and 1936 have been released for NSW, with more years available for other States between 1901 and 1936. Indexes allow searching for a name – surname with or without first name – within country, state, district or subdistrict. Once you have a list of possible suspects the image of the electoral roll page can be viewed, showing other people with the same surname in the same subdistrict.
Electoral rolls are enormously useful in showing the residences and occupations of our ancestors. In the absence of censuses this information is invaluable, helping us track movements (or not) over time. Electoral rolls for NSW go back to the 1860s, and for some divisions to the 1840s, but in those days not everyone had the right to vote – only men, and only those with property.
Ancestry is slowly increasing the number of Australian databases it holds, currently including convicts, early censuses and directories, and is well worth checking out. Subscriptions are for unlimited searches for a specific period. It is worth enquiring whether your local library or family history society has a subscription.