MP Handbook

This handbook provides information you will need as an MP in election year, particularly if you are also a candidate for the 2017 general election, including the rules under the Electoral Act for MP contact information and what you need to think about for other parliamentary publicity published in the run up to the election. Detailed information about standing as a candidate, including the nomination process and the reporting of expenses and donations and information about enrolment and voting services can be found in the Candidate Handbook - General Election 2017.

What’s new for MPs at this election?

For MPs there are some changes to the rules that apply to MP office and vehicle signage. These changes are explained in more detail in the handbook.

Key dates for 2017

23 June Start of the regulated period The three month period before election day when election expense limits apply for advertising published during this period.
Parliamentary Service funding is not available for election advertising published during the regulated period
22 July Electoral signs Special rules allow signs up to 3 square metres to go up from this date subject to local authority rules about location
22 August Dissolution of Parliament  
23 August Writ day Candidate and party television and radio broadcasting can begin
24 August to noon 29 August Nomination period Bulk nominations of candidates and party lists to be lodged with the Electoral Commission by noon 28 August
Individual candidate nominations to be lodged with the Returning Officer by noon 29 August
6 September Overseas voting begins  
11 September Advance voting begins  
22 September Day before election day End of the regulated period. All campaign signage must be removed
before midnight
23 September Election day Voters can vote between 9am and 7pm. No campaigning is allowed on election day
7 October Official results 2pm target for the release of official results
12 October Return of the writ and declaration of list MPs This is the date for the return of the writ showing successful
electorate candidates and the declaration of election of list
members (assuming there are no judicial recounts)
23 November Last date for Parliament to be summoned Assuming the writ is returned on 12 October - Parliament must meet within six weeks of the date of the return of the writ
23 January 2018 Candidate election expenses and donations return due  

 

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Part 1: Election advertising rules

This section explains the rules in the Electoral Act 1993, including the promoter statement and authorisation requirements, and the definition of election advertisement.

When do the election advertising rules apply to MPs?

The rules relating to candidate election advertisements only apply from the point you publicly announce your intention to stand as an electorate candidate at the election.

By contrast, party election advertising rules can apply to material published at any time by MPs during the parliamentary term.

There are special rules that apply to election advertising promoted by list only MPs and MPs not seeking re-election, which are explained at the end of this section.

Promoter statements

All election advertisements, irrespective of when they are published, must include a promoter statement setting out the promoter’s name and address. [See section 204F of the Electoral Act]

A promoter is the person initiating the advertisement.

MPs promoting an election advertisement need to include either their residential street address or the address of any other place where they can usually be contacted during business hours. This can be your parliamentary or out-of-Parliament office address. A Post Office box or website address is insufficient.

The promoter statement must be clearly displayed in the advertisement. To avoid complaints, the following format for promoter statements is recommended:

Promoted/Authorised by [MP’s name], [MP’s relevant full street address].

Failing to include a promoter statement on an election advertisement is an offence. The Electoral Commission’s advice is that if you are not sure, err on the side of caution, and put in a promoter statement.

Putting a promoter statement in will not change the advertisement’s status.

Written authorisation

Election advertisements initiated by you at any time that promote the party and/or another candidate must have the prior written authorisation of the party secretary and/or the other candidate.

Likewise, if the party, another candidate or a third party initiates election advertising that promotes you as an electorate candidate they must obtain your prior written authorisation.

There are two reasons for these requirements:

  • it provides candidates and parties a power of veto over who is able to promote them through election advertising, and
  • if candidates and parties are being promoted by another person in advertisements published during the regulated period the costs will count as election expenses.

If your party is responsible for initiating election advertising promoting you as a candidate you can give the party secretary written authorisation for multiple publications.

What is an election advertisement?

Not all material featuring an MP, who is a candidate, or the party will be an election advertisement.

An election advertisement is an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to:

  • vote, or not to vote, for a electorate candidate (whether or not the name of the candidate is stated)
  • vote, or not to vote, for a party (whether or not the name of the party is stated)
  • vote, or not to vote, for a type of candidate or party described by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the candidate or party are stated). [See section 3A of the Electoral Act]

The Electoral Act does not define ‘advertisement’ but, because the definition of ‘election advertisement’ covers an advertisement ‘in any medium’, the Electoral Commission considers that the term ‘advertisement’ should be interpreted broadly. For example, it is not limited to traditional forms of advertising such as newspapers, posters, billboards, leaflets and radio and television broadcasting. It includes online advertising and can be paid or unpaid. The test is whether the advertisement can ‘reasonably’ be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a party or candidate.

This is an objective test to be determined considering the effect of the advertisement as a whole. The effect of the advertisement will depend not only on its content, but also on its style and apparent purpose, and factual context. To be an election advertisement, the advertisement need not include the name of a party or candidate, and the encouragement or persuasion to vote, or not to vote, can be direct or indirect.

The courts have said the assessment is to be made from the perspective of a reasonable observer, sensitive to the exceptionally high value of political speech in a democracy. (The Electoral Commission v Watson and Anor 2016)

Apart from the contact information exemption, the Electoral Act 1993 does not provide any exemption for MP communications. Under the Electoral Act all candidates are subject to the same rules in the election campaign.

Election advertisement exemptions

The legislation makes it clear that the following are not election advertisements:

  • editorial content
  • personal political views online
  • a member of Parliament’s contact details.

Editorial content

There is an exemption for the editorial content of a periodical, radio or television programme, or news media internet site. A periodical is a newspaper, magazine, or trade or professional journal that was established for purposes unrelated to the election, published at regular intervals and generally available to members of the public.

This does not cover an MP’s newsletter, even if it has been put out regularly, because the definition of periodical is limited to magazines, newspapers or trade or professional journals.

If you have been asked to write a column in your local paper, this is exempt. Whatever you write will fall within the exemption for editorial content chosen by the editor. The exemption covers everything in a newspaper except advertising and advertorial. However, care should be taken if you are offered a column as part of an advertising package as this will not come within the exemption.

Press releases from an MP are not exempt. If the news media pick up your press release then they will be exempt under the exemption for editorial content of a periodical, but this does not cover your release of the item.

Personal political views online

There is an exemption for the publication of personal political views by an individual on the internet or other electronic medium, provided the individual does not make or receive payment for publishing those views.

This exemption will not cover party websites and party press releases because these are not the personal political views of an individual.

Whether or not the exemption will cover an MP’s website, online press release, and social media pages depends on whether the content is the expression of personal political views by an individual, as opposed to a party view, which will need to be determined on a case by case basis. More information on use of social media and websites is provided in Part 2 of this handbook.

MP contact details

There is a specific exemption for publishing your contact information, for example, your electorate office and vehicle signage, or the ads in newspapers advertising your availability to meet with constituents.

This exemption is tightly defined. For the exemption to apply, the contact information must include:

  • your name
  • contact details, and
  • your electoral district or the fact that you are a list member.

The contact information may also include your photo, party name, party logo, website address for the party and your constituency clinic times.

For the exemption to apply there are other requirements that relate to how it is published. The contact information must:

  • be published by you in the course of performing your duties as an MP
  • have been funded by the Parliamentary Service
  • have been routinely published in the same medium, in the same form and style, no more often and to no greater extent than it was published before the regulated period, and
  • not be combined or associated with an election advertisement.

To fit within the exemption the proposed publication cannot go beyond the list of allowed content. For example, a leaflet containing contact information and also instructions on how constituents can sign up for your newsletter takes the newsletter outside the exemption and back into the general test of whether it is an election advertisement.

MP office and vehicle signage

All fixed signage on an out-of-Parliament office must be treated as a single sign for the purposes of determining whether signage is contact information. Similarly, all signage on an MP’s vehicle must be treated as a single sign when considering the contact information exemption.

Where the contact information exemption does not apply, the Commission’s approach to signage on vehicles is to consider all sides of the same vehicle as one sign - so for vehicle signage that is an election advertisement only one promoter statement is required.

Where the contact information exemption does not apply to MP office signage, the Commission will assess on a case by case basis whether the advertising displayed consists of one or more advertisements. If the signage is considered to be one advertisement and it contains content that is an election advertisement only one promoter statement will be required on the signage.

Other parliamentary publicity

If you have announced your intention to stand as an electorate candidate you need to consider whether parliamentary publications or signage, other than material covered by the contact information exemption, may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for you.

All MPs, even those not seeking re-election, need to consider whether parliamentary publicity may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a party.

Care needs to be taken to ensure that election advertisements published at any time are appropriately authorised and contain the required promoter statement. Candidate election expenses can only be incurred by or with the authorisation of the candidate and party election expenses can only be incurred by or with the authorisation of the party secretary.

Whether parliamentary publicity is candidate advertising must be determined on a case by case basis by looking at the advertisement as a whole.

At one end of the spectrum, advertising expressly seeking support for a candidate is covered by the definition of candidate advertisement. At the other, advertising an MP’s contact details or a factual account of activities and events in the electorate are unlikely to be considered to be candidate advertisements.

When considering a particular item of publicity, the following are some of the factors which indicate that it may be an election advertisement:

  • references that directly or indirectly evaluate you and/or your party’s effectiveness or success during the parliamentary term or previously, whether or not referenced to any other party or candidate
  • references in the communication to the election itself
  • references, direct or indirect, to you and/or your party’s policy platform for the election, or what you will do if elected or re-elected
  • references to a candidate who is not an existing MP
  • formatting or branding of a communication in a manner similar to the party’s election campaign material.

Requesting an advisory opinion from the Electoral Commission

We are very happy to provide guidance to MPs. You can ask us for advice on whether, in the Commission’s opinion, an advertisement constitutes an ‘election advertisement’ under the law. The opinion of the Commission is not legally binding but reflects the Commission’s interpretation of the law. A court of law may reach a different view and you may wish to seek your own legal advice.

To request an advisory opinion, please provide a copy of the advertisement and any relevant background information about the context of publication, such as the details of when and how it is to be published and on what scale. Requests can be made by email to advisory@elections.govt.nz.

It may be helpful to obtain the view of the Commission where you are uncertain about how the rules apply to a particular advertisement. We will respond as soon as we can. We have a maximum target turnaround of 5 working days.

The Commission will treat the proposed advertisement, any supporting material, and the advice given to the requestor as confidential until the day after the date for the return of the writ for the election (13 October 2017).

Advisory opinions will then be available on request, subject to the Official Information Act 1982. This does not prohibit the requestor from releasing the advice at any time.

List only candidates and MPs not seeking re-election

If you are standing as a list only candidate you can promote election advertisements as a third party promoter up until the time the party list is lodged by the party secretary with the Commission (the deadline for lodgement of the party list is noon, 28 August 2017). List only candidates cannot promote election advertisements from the date the party list is lodged.

If you are not standing for re-election you can promote advertising as a third party promoter. You can only spend up to $12,600 on election advertising published during the regulated period unless you register as a registered promoter with the Commission. More information about the third party rules can be found in the Third Party Handbook - General Election 2017.

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Part 2: Applying the rules to MP advertising

This section provides additional guidance on how the election advertising rules apply to different materials frequently produced by MPs. The Electoral Commission is happy to provide an advisory opinion or further advice on material published by MPs in different formats.

Signage and stationery

The contact information exemption has been designed to provide certainty for MPs so that your stationery, vehicle signage, electorate office signage, constituency newspaper advertisements, business cards, etc. are not election advertisements if they comply with the contact information requirements.

Consider the difference that adding a by-line can make. For example, “Working hard for new growth”, “An effective voice for [name] electorate”, “Advocating for the people of [name] electorate”. Adding a by-line may transform contact information into a candidate advertisement.

If you add in this type of by-line these words may, because of their open-ended nature, reasonably be regarded as evaluating your effectiveness as a current MP and referring to what you can and will do in the future if re-elected, in a way that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for you as a candidate.

Letters to constituents

MPs write to people for all sorts of reasons, e.g. general information, welcoming new enrolees to the electorate congratulating new citizens etc.

As with all of these types of mailouts, the question of whether something is an election advertisement will come down to the context and content of the letter. Once your candidacy is announced, you will need to consider whether the letter could meet the test of being a candidate advertisement.

Saying that you are the MP for a particular electorate or area and providing your contact details will not be election advertising, but be careful about open-ended statements and comments about your effectiveness.

Even if you do not consider that you are promoting yourself, you will need to be careful around references to the election, for example, mentioning that you are also the party’s candidate for the electorate in the general election, or referring to issues constituents should think about when voting.

Surveys

The Electoral Act includes an express exemption for surveys and opinion polls from the definition of election expenses. However, this does not mean everything published in a survey format is automatically exempt, which is often a source of confusion. The courts have found that if a survey goes beyond merely eliciting voters’ views and can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for an electorate candidate or political party (often referred to as push polling) then it will be an election advertisement. It will require a promoter statement, and if it is published during the regulated period the costs will be an election expense.

You might be asking a constituent which party they usually support with a list of parties, or an open question such as what are your biggest concerns for the electorate. From the point of view of the Electoral Act, these are not election advertisements.

If your survey asks questions in a leading way, promotes your party’s policy and directs the answers, then the survey is likely to be an election advertisement and needs to comply with the election advertising rules.

MP newsletters and flyers

Whether a newsletter or flyer is an election advertisement will come down to its context and content.

Even if your MP newsletter is only sent to people who have subscribed to it, this does not take it outside the rules. For the purposes of the Electoral Act, it is still being ‘published’ which is defined to include distributing by any means.

A factual account of your constituency activities, local events, and contact details will not be election advertising. However, once your candidacy is announced, you will need to consider whether the content, including photographs, could meet the test of being a candidate advertisement. For example, does it talk about your success on a local issue, or does it praise or criticise the Government’s performance? If so, it could be candidate or party advertising.

Social media, websites, emails and press releases

The advertising rules in the Electoral Act apply to election advertising in all media.

If you send out your newsletter by email or put material up on your website including things like press releases these are communications that are subject to the election advertising rules. The definition of publish includes disseminating by means of the internet or any other electronic means.

Where MP publications on the internet or other electronic medium are not covered by the personal political views exemption, the Commission looks at the content of the website or social media page as a whole to determine whether it is an election advertisement.

An MP’s website may be made up of several pages containing, for example, information about the MP’s activities, their party’s policies, copies of newsletters, etc. If your website has content that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for the party or its candidates the website will be an election advertisement.

The same approach is taken when considering social media. For example, when determining whether or not your Facebook page is an election advertisement, the Commission looks at the Facebook page as a whole, including the content you are responsible for publishing such as your posts and profile photos. Generally, where individuals post comments on an MP’s Facebook page the personal political views exemption is likely to apply to those posts.

Where the website or webpage is an election advertisement, you do not need to include a promoter statement in each picture, article or post on the site, provided the promoter statement is contained on the home page or the page that contains the election advertising.

On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube we recommend you include the promoter statement in the ‘About’ or profile section for your account or channel.

References to websites

If publicity contains a website reference, depending on how the website is being used in the advertisement, the content of the website may be considered in determining whether the advertisement is a candidate advertisement, party advertisement, or both, for the purposes of the Electoral Act.

For example, if the statement: ‘Go to www. voteformyparty.co.nz to find out more’ is included in a print advertisement, both the content of the print advertisement and the website content would be taken into account.

Listing a website is fine, but if you use words or graphics that encourage readers to visit a website, the content of both the publicity and the website will need to be considered.

Party logos

The presence of your party logo on MP communications or signage does not in itself make it party advertising if the size and relative prominence of the logo is such that it is simply identifying that you are an MP for that party.

However, if your publicity or signage does not fall within the MP contact information exemption, and the party logo is very prominent, the context, size and relative prominence of the logo may mean that it may reasonably be regarded as encouraging a vote for the party and therefore require a promoter statement and authorisation from the party secretary.

Take care with regional hub office signage, that the party name and branding is not more prominent than MP names and contact details.

Items distributed for public display

MPs need to think carefully about the use of items such as bumper stickers, banners and flags because of the fact that they inherently involve ongoing public display. If you do produce and distribute these sorts of items, and the items are election advertisements, the Commission’s advice is that even if you distribute them before the start of the regulated period, you should assume that they will continue to be displayed during the regulated period.

If the item promotes you as a candidate, for the purposes of the Electoral Act the items will be candidate advertisements from the date your intention of becoming a candidate is announced. If the item promotes your candidacy you have to include the cost of these items as a candidate election expense. If the item promotes the party, you need the party secretary’s authorisation and the costs will be a party election expense.

Because it is assumed display items handed out before the regulated period will continue to be displayed during the regulated period you will need to attribute a fair proportion of the cost of the items to the regulated period for the purposes of election expenses.

The amount to be counted as an election expense will depend on when the items were handed out before the regulated period. For example, if 500 bumper stickers promoting your candidacy were distributed a week before the commencement of the regulated period and the regulated period was to run for nine weeks, 90% of the cost would be a candidate election expense.

Apart from the issues regarding expenses, the Commission advises candidates and parties against using this type of publicity because once distributed, you cannot be sure that the bumper sticker will not continue to be displayed on election day, thereby exposing your supporters to the risk of inadvertently committing an offence because of the rules that prohibit the display of party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos on election day.

Other items for distribution

If you distribute items such as pens and fridge magnets that only contain your contact information, the items will be exempt. If they do not fall within the exemption, you need to determine whether they are election advertisements and require a promoter statement and, if they are promoting the party, the need for your party secretary’s written authorisation.

As these items are personal to the recipient, if they are handed out before the regulated period they will not count as an election expense. Only those items distributed during the regulated period will count towards your election expenses.

Care needs to be taken when items like pens and fridge magnets are distributed with other material. Combining parliamentary funded material and campaign material is likely to give rise to complaints. The Parliamentary Service can advise you whether their rules permit parliamentary funded material being distributed with election advertising during the regulated period.

Business and community directories

When you or your staff place advertising in items like business or community directories and school newsletters, check whether there are going to be any accompanying words or graphics that may make the advertising an election advertisement. For example, it is common for such directories to include accompanying words or graphics that encourage readers to support featured advertisers.

These items may attract complaints in the lead-up to the election.

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Part 3: Broadcasting

The Broadcasting Act 1989 contains special rules for the broadcasting of election programmes on television and radio. A summary of how these rules apply to MPs is provided in this section.

Election programmes

Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act governs how and when radio and television can be used in election campaigns. You need to carefully consider whether any broadcasting that you are involved in falls under the definition of ‘election programme’ for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act.

The definition of an election programme covers any programme that:

  • appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote or not vote for a party or candidate, or
  • advocates support for or opposes a candidate or party, or
  • notifies meetings held or to be held in connection with an election.

These restrictions do not apply to programmes initiated by a broadcaster e.g. editorial content, news, comment, current affairs, entertainment, documentaries etc. or to programmes broadcast for any person other than a party or candidate. (The Electoral Commission v Watson & Anor 2016)

An election programme can only be broadcast during the ‘election period’ which is the period from writ day to the day before the election (23 August to 22 September). It is prohibited to broadcast an election programme at any other time. During the election period, a party can only use money allocated by the Electoral Commission to broadcast election programmes.

During the election period, a candidate can only promote his or her own election. A candidate broadcast cannot feature more than one candidate.

Although the party name and policies can be mentioned, an electorate candidate cannot encourage the party vote, promote the party’s list or attack other parties or candidates.

Radio advertisements publicising constituency services

If you advertise your constituency services on radio, particular care needs to be taken once you have announced your intention of standing as an electorate candidate. You need to ensure the advertising does not fall within the definition of an election programme because of content that directly or indirectly appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for you as a candidate.

The Commission would recommend you review the content of your regular radio advertisements, and avoid the use of by-lines, for example.

If in doubt you can seek advice from the Commission. We are happy to review your scripts.

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Part 4: Apportionment of election expenses

This section explains the rules in the Electoral Act 1993 that allow for the apportionment of election expenses before and during the regulated period and between an MP who is a candidate and their party or another candidate.

MP expenses and election expenses

The Electoral Act does not provide for apportionment of costs between publicity that contains election advertising and an MP’s parliamentary publicity. If the effect of any part of an item of publicity can be reasonably regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for a candidate, or not vote for another candidate, then the item as a whole will be regarded as a candidate advertisement. You can still publish it during the regulated period but the costs will be attributable as an election expense.

Example:
An MP has a website which contains both material that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for the MP as a candidate and factual information, such as an MP’s contact details. All of the costs that relate to the publication of the website during the regulated period (i.e. hosting fees, graphic design fees) will be a candidate election expense.

Please refer to the Candidate Handbook - General Election 2017 for more information about candidate expenses.

Election expenses to be apportioned

The electoral rules require the apportionment of election expenses in certain circumstances. MPs will need to apportion election expenses where:

  • an election advertisement is published before and during the regulated period
  • an election advertisement promotes both the MP as a candidate and the party, and
  • an election advertisement promotes the MP as a candidate and one or more other candidates.

Items published throughout the term

Election advertisements published throughout the parliamentary term that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging a vote for the MP as an electorate candidate can only be apportioned from the date the MP publicly announces his or her candidacy, as the advertisement is not a candidate advertisement prior to this date.

Example:
An MP has a sign up in the electorate for two years prior to the election which contains the line “a strong voice for [xxxx] electorate”. The MP announces her intention of contesting the electorate nine months prior to the election and the sign remains up until the election. The cost can be apportioned between the six months the candidate advertisement was published prior to the regulated period and the three month regulated period. Therefore, one third of the cost of the sign will need to be accounted for in the MP’s candidate return.

Apportionment is a factual exercise determined by the circumstances of each case. We are happy to discuss apportionment questions.

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Part 5: MPs and Parliamentary Service funding

Parliamentary Service funding cannot be used to fund election advertisements published during the regulated period for the general election (23 June to 22 September 2017).

The Parliamentary Service Act 2000 restricts the use of parliamentary funding in the run up to an election.

Outside the regulated period, Parliamentary Service funding is available for MP communications as long as they have a parliamentary purpose and do not ask for money, votes, or party membership.

Parliamentary Service funding is not available for any communication that is an election advertisement published during the regulated period as defined in the Electoral Act.

Outside the regulated period, even if publicity is funded by the Parliamentary Service, MPs still need to consider the promoter statement and authorisation requirements of the Electoral Act. This is because the definition of election advertisement is wider than explicitly calling for votes, membership or donations.

Where an item is published both before and during the regulated period, or will continue to be published during the regulated period, the costs will need to be apportioned, so that the Parliamentary Service only funds election advertising up until the beginning of the regulated period.

As part of the pre-approval process for parliamentary funding, the Parliamentary Service may require that you seek an advisory opinion from the Electoral Commission. More information on the funding of MPs publicity and the pre-approval process is available from the Parliamentary Service.

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Part 6: Events, fundraising and giveaways

This section provides advice on the rules relating to treating and the provision of food and drink or other items by MPs who are candidates.

Refreshments and giveaways

MPs, who are candidates, who provide refreshments at events or distribute free items may have questions or attract complaints about ‘treating’.

Treating is the giving or providing of food, drink, entertainment or provision to persons with the intention of corruptly influencing their vote and is a criminal offence. [See section 217 of the Electoral Act for a full description]

Section 217 is broadly phrased as to the period during which it applies: it covers actions “before, during, or after an election”.

The consequences of a conviction for treating are significant, including imprisonment, loss of a parliamentary seat or disqualification as a voter for three years.

Although the ambit is broad, the threshold for establishing treating is also high - a corrupt intention is required. The courts have previously held that the offence of ‘treating’ requires an intention on the part of the person treating to influence the votes of the persons treated.

There are very few court cases on the offence which makes it difficult to be definitive about what will constitute treating. However, in the Commission’s view these are some of the factors that we believe are relevant considerations:

  • the scale and commercial value of the food, drink, entertainment or other provision are relevant. In our view this is key, treating requires a corrupt intent and a likelihood of influence - it does not apply to ordinary hospitality that is incidental to a political meeting,
  • the target audience of the provision – providing food, drink, and entertainment at an event hosted by an MP at Parliament or for parliamentary staff is unlikely to be treating, but providing food, drink and entertainment at a public meeting carries more risk, and
  • the extent to which the provision is accompanied by other political material.

In the Commission’s view, to avoid complaints it is prudent for MPs to act cautiously and with restraint in providing food, drink - especially alcohol - and entertainment as part of their political activities.

Free items handed out during the regulated period (or which continue to be published) that are election advertisements must be counted as an election expense.

Fundraisers

MPs may also be involved in community or charitable fundraising activity in the run up to an election. For example, an MP may be invited to contribute an item to a charity auction or provide a raffle prize.

The Commission recommends MPs carefully consider what publicity there will be about any item given by an MP who is a candidate, particularly if it is close to an election.

Where the scale of the gift is modest and it is not accompanied by election-related material such activity is unlikely to be treating or attract complaints.

We are happy to provide a view on particular events or proposals.

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Part 7: Election day

This section provides guidance about the election day rules and MP material that continues to be displayed on election day.

No campaigning on election day

MPs who are standing for re-election need to ensure that they comply with the election day rules, that prohibit campaign activities on election day before the close of the polls.

There are detailed rules in the Candidate Handbook- General Election 2017 about election day. The following are some specific matters affecting MPs.

MP office signage

MPs’ fixed electorate office signage may remain up on election day provided it does not relate specifically to the election. This exception does not apply to signage on mobile headquarters, i.e. signage on vehicles.

Vehicle signage

It is an offence to exhibit any party name, emblem, slogan or logo on a vehicle on election day.

MP sign-written vehicles that include a candidate or party name, emblem, slogan or logo should not be displayed on election day. Our advice is to garage or cover sign written vehicles on election day.

Vehicles with bumper stickers promoting a candidate or party should also be kept out of public view. Flags with a party emblem, slogan or logo should not be displayed.

Social media and websites

Election material does not have to be removed from your website on election day, so long as the material on the site was published before election day, is only made available to people who voluntarily access it and the site is not advertised on election day.

If you use social media be careful about any posts on election day before 7pm that could breach the election day rules.

We recommend that you temporarily deactivate your campaign page on Facebook, to avoid the risk of supporters committing an offence by sharing content or posting on your page.

For other forms of social media where people can post comments, the Commission recommends you change the settings, where possible, so that people cannot post messages on election day before 7pm that could breach the rules.

Posts on social media that are not connected in any way with the election can of course be posted on election day.

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Apendix A: Useful contacts

For information on... Agency Contact

Administration of enrolment and voting services.

We produce a range of resources, in different languages, about enrolling and voting which can be ordered via our website or by email

Purchase of printed rolls and electronic roll data

Nominations, parliamentary elections, by-elections and list vacancies

Advice about election rules including advisory opinions on whether material is an election advertisement

Parliamentary electoral boundaries

Electoral Commission Helpline: 0800 36 76 56
National office: 04 495 0030
General enquiries:
enquiries@elections.govt.nz
Requests for resources:
publications@elections.govt.nz
Requests for roll data:
data@elections.govt.nz
Requests for advisory opinions:
advisory@elections.govt.nz
Electoral Commission websites:
www.elections.org.nz
www.electionresults.govt.nz
Administrative and support services to MPs and funding entitlements for MPs Parliamentary Service Ph 04 817 9999
publicity@parliament.govt.nz
How to contact local councils regarding, for example, signage rules Local Government New Zealand

A list of all councils, maps and websites are available at:

http://www.lgnz.co.nz/nzs-local-government/new-zealands-councils/

Information and complaints regarding advertising Advertising Standards Authority Ph 04 472 7852
asa@asa.co.nz
www.asa.co.nz
Information and complaints regarding broadcasting Broadcasting Standards Authority Ph 0800 366 996
info@bsa.govt.nz
www.bsa.govt.nz
Information and complaints regarding press Press Council www.presscouncil.org.nz
Information and resources on how to protect yourself online National Cyber Policy Office, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet www.connectsmart.govt.nz
Language translation services   www.nztcinternational.com
www.dia.govt.nz
Providing information in accessible formats for blind electors Blind Foundation Ph 0800 24 33 33
www.blindfoundation.org.nz
Deaf advocacy and sign language services   www.deafradio.co.nz
www.slianz.org.nz
www.deaf.org.nz
www.nfd.org.nz

 

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