Media Handbook

This media handbook provides information for publishers and broadcasters about what political parties, candidates and third parties can and cannot do when campaigning for the 2017 general election.

Some of the rules impose obligations on both the promoter of election advertisements and the publisher or broadcaster so it is important for media to be aware of the rules.

This handbook provides detailed information on:

  • election advertising rules (print, online and outdoor)
  • election broadcasting rules (additional rules that apply to tv and radio)
  • election day rules results complaints.

What’s new at this election?

  • There will no longer be free time provided by Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand for party opening and closing addresses and the amount of money available for allocation by the Electoral Commission to political parties for broadcasting election programmes will be increased to $4.146m(including GST).
  • In addition to television and radio, parties will be able to use their allocation to advertise on the internet. There will no longer be a requirement for broadcasters to file broadcasting returns. Instead, parties will be required to file a return of allocation expenses after the election.
  • Case law has confirmed that the broadcasting rules in Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act only apply to broadcasts initiated by political parties and candidates, not broadcasting by third parties and not editorial content, third party comment or opinion in relation to an election, e.g. news, comment, current affairs, entertainment, documentaries, etc.
  • There will be some changes to advance voting at the election. Campaign activity will be prohibited inside advance voting places and within 10 metres of their entrance. There will be a slightly shorter advance voting period, starting on the Monday 12 days before election day to align with when voters receive their EasyVote cards.

Key dates for media for 2017

3 March Deadline for parties to give notice for broadcasting allocation Deadline for parties to notify eligibility for broadcasting allocation for 2017
26 May Broadcasting allocation decision Initial broadcasting allocation decision published on Electoral Commission website
23 June Start of the regulated period The three month period before election day where party, candidate and third party election expense limits apply for advertising published during this 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
23 August Writ day Broadcasting allocation can be used to advertise on television, radio and the internet. Candidate election programmes can also be broadcast on radio and television from this date
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

Media can request contact details for candidates from the Electoral Commission after the nomination period

6 September Overseas voting begins  
11 September Advance voting begins  
22 September Day before election day End of the regulated period. All campaign signage and advertising 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
11 October Judicial recount deadline Three working days after the official count
12 October Return of 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)
11 December Broadcasting allocation invoices Deadline for parties to submit invoices for broadcasting allocation costs to the Electoral Commission
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Part 1: Election advertising

This section helps media to understand the rules in the Electoral Act 1993 that apply to print, online, and outdoor election advertising.

Key messages

Election advertisements (other than election programmes on television and radio) can be published at any time except on election day (23 September).
Election advertisements must contain a promoter statement, including the promoter’s name and street address.
Election advertisements that promote any candidate and/or party must have been authorised in writing by the candidate and/ or party secretary before being published/ broadcast.
Any person can seek an advisory opinion from the Electoral Commission on whether or not a particular advertisement is an election advertisement.

Promoter statements

All election advertisements irrespective of when they are published or broadcast must include the name and address of the person that has initiated or instigated them (‘the promoter’). [See section 204F of the Electoral Act]

The Electoral Act provides that only the following can promote an election advertisement:

  • a party secretary
  • an electorate candidate
  • a registered promoter, or
  • an unregistered promoter.

Registered and unregistered promoters are also referred to as third party promoters throughout this guidance.

To meet the requirements of the Electoral Act, the promoter statement must be clearly displayed in the advertisement.

The form of words recommended by the Commission is:
Promoted or Authorised by [promoter’s name], [promoter’s relevant full street address].

If the promoter is an unregistered third party promoter, and is an incorporated or unincorporated body, the promoter statement must also include the name of a member of the body who is the duly authorised representative of the promoter.

Example:
Promoted or Authorised by [duly authorised representative’s full name], [promoter’s name], [promoter’s relevant full street address].

For an incorporated or unincorporated body the address can be the full street address of the body’s principal place of business or head office.

For registered third party promoters this should be the same address as shown on the Register of Registered Promoters. For an individual, the address can be the full street address of either the place where the promoter usually lives or any other place where the promoter can usually be contacted between the hours of 9am and 5pm on any working day. A Post Office box or website address is insufficient.

The requirement for a promoter statement applies to all forms of election advertising in any medium. If the election advertisement is published in a visual form, the promoter statement must be clearly displayed in the advertisement. If the election advertisement is published only in an audible form, the promoter statement must be no less audible than the other content of the advertisement.

Publishers and broadcasters need to be aware that because it is an offence to publish or cause or permit to be published an election advertisement that does not comply with the promoter statement requirements, (independent of any offence committed by a promoter), the publisher/broadcaster is subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 for publishing an election advertisement without a promoter statement.

Whether a promoter statement has been clearly displayed will need to be determined on a case by case basis taking into account the type of advertisement that is published. In the Commission’s view, this does not require that a person be able to read the promoter statement from where an election advertisement is intended to be viewed, for example, on a billboard while driving. However, if a person inspects an election advertisement he or she should be able to read the promoter statement.

Where the website or webpage is an election advertisement, a promoter statement does not need to be included in each picture, article or entry on the site, provided the promoter statement is contained on the home page or the page that contains the election advertising.

Party and candidate election advertisements

Party advertisements promoted by a party need to include the party secretary’s name and address. The party may promote one or more of its electorate candidates with the written authorisation of each candidate. If a party promotes an advertisement that is both a party and a candidate advertisement, only one promoter statement is required. In this case, the party is the promoter and the advertisement will only need to include the name and address of the party secretary.

Electorate candidates can also promote their own election advertisements, or a joint candidate and party advertisement (with the written authorisation of the party secretary). If an electorate candidate promotes an advertisement that is both a candidate and party advertisement, only one promoter statement is required. In this case, the candidate is the promoter and the advertisement will only need to include the name and address of the candidate.

Third party election advertisements

Election advertisements promoted by a registered or unregistered (‘third party’) promoter need to include a promoter statement that features the promoter’s name and address.

There are some restrictions on who can be an unregistered or registered promoter. [See Appendix A for further details]

Written authorisation to promote a party or candidate

Election advertisements that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for an electorate candidate or a party must be authorised in writing by the candidate (in the case of a candidate advertisement) or the party secretary (in the case of a party advertisement).

If more than one candidate is featured in a candidate advertisement, written authorisation must be obtained from each candidate. A separate authorisation is not required where an electorate candidate is promoting his or her own candidacy or a party secretary is promoting his or her own party.

Publishers and broadcasters are advised to request and retain a copy of any written authorisation(s) required for a candidate or party advertisement.

Publishers and broadcasters need to be aware that because it is an offence to publish, or cause or permit to be published, an election advertisement that promotes a party and/or candidate without prior written authorisation, (independent of any offence committed by a promoter), the publisher/broadcaster is subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 for publishing or broadcasting this type of election advertisement where written authorisation has not been given.

Expenditure limits

Candidates, parties and third parties must not exceed the following expenditure limits for election advertising that is published during the regulated period (23 June to 22 September):

  • $26,200 for an electorate candidate
  • $1,115,000 for a registered political party plus $26,200 per electorate contested by the party
  • $12,600 for an unregistered third party promoter
  • $315,000 for a registered third party promoter

These amounts are inclusive of GST.

Third parties that intend to spend more than $12,600 on election advertising published during the regulated period must be registered with the Electoral Commission.

There are no limits on how much a candidate, party or third party can spend on election advertising published prior to the regulated period.

What is 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 an 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 is 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 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.

Example: Billboard
If a third party wants to spend $20,000 publishing these election advertisements during the regulated period for the election that encourage voters to vote for Party A, prior to publication:

  • the third party must register as a promoter with the Electoral Commission, and
  • must obtain the written authorisation of the party secretary of Party A.

If Party A agrees, and the item is published, it must include a promoter statement including the name and address of the third party.

The $20,000 cost of the election advertising will count toward both Party A and the third party’s election expense limits.

Example: Billboard
If a third party wants to spend $35,000 publishing these election advertisements during the regulated period that encourage voters not to vote for Party B, prior to publication, the third party must register as a promoter with the Electoral Commission. The prior written authorisation is not required from any party to publish this ad.

The advertisement must include a promoter statement including the name and address of the third party.

The $35,000 cost of the election advertising will count towards just the third party’s election expense limits.

    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, or type of 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 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.

    Other relevant factors that need to be considered can relate to who the promoter is and whether or not there is a public interest in knowing the promoter’s identity which will depend on whether or not the promoter is expressing views that are personal in nature and not incurring significant expense or represents a group or vested interest.

    The courts have said that 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 & Anor 2016)

    The definition of ‘election advertisement’ does not require an explicit statement (e.g, ‘Vote for X’, or ‘Don’t vote for Y’). The complete advertisement needs to be considered, in context. It is not enough to consider the words or visual images used in isolation.

    Example:
    Newspaper ‘advertorial’ announcing the launch of a new political party

    The party secretary for a newly registered political party pays for the publication of an ‘advertorial’ that highlights the names and qualifications of its office-holders. The text includes several references to the new party, and language that promotes the party in a positive way including:

    • “We have the people to protect families and promote local businesses”
    • “The [Name] Party will help all parents who want the best for their children”.

    In addition, there is a photo of the party leader handing an over-sized cheque to a local community group as a donation to its child-care initiative. A billboard with the party’s logo features prominently in the photo.

    This example is likely to be considered a party election advertisement. It should include a promoter statement including the name and address of the party secretary.

    Example:
    Third party flyer inserted in, and delivered with a community newspaper

    A person who is not involved in the affairs of a party or candidate prints a flyer and makes arrangements with the publisher of a community newspaper for the flyer to be distributed with it.

    The flyer presents loaded questions and answers about a topical issue and suggests answers framed in negative language with a cross, and answers framed in positive language with a tick.

    The flyer does not identify any party or candidate by name but the policy issue and the recommended answers reflect policy positions clearly identifiable with a party or type of party through messages and use of party colours.

    The promoter and the publisher would be wise to seek an advisory opinion from the Commission.

    If the flyer is an election advertisement or an advertisement relating to an election, a promoter statement will be required. If the flyer may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading electors to vote for a party, the party secretary’s prior written authorisation may be required.

    Depending on the amount of expenditure the promoter may need to be registered with the Commission.

    Issue advocacy about political issues may not be election advertising. Just publishing material with messages that take a position with which a party or candidate happens to be associated is not sufficient. More is needed. For example, if the flyer identifies party positions and establishes a yardstick for evaluating such positions, encouraging voters to vote accordingly then it could be an election advertisement.

    All requirements in respect of election advertisements apply to:

    • election advertisements published in New Zealand even if the promoter is outside of New Zealand, and
    • election advertisements published outside of New Zealand where the promoter is in New Zealand. [See section 3F of the Electoral Act]

    Publish means to bring to the notice of a person in any manner excluding addressing one or more persons face to face [see section 3D of the Electoral Act]. It includes but is not limited to print media, broadcast media, and the internet.

    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, a radio or tv programme, or news media internet site. The Electoral Act does not define ‘editorial content’ but the Commission’s view is that it includes any part of the publication except advertising or advertorial.

    It can include opinion and editorial pieces written by others and reader contributions that the editor has chosen to publish. A periodical is a newspaper, magazine, or journal established for purposes unrelated to the election, that has been published at regular intervals and that is available to the public.

    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. Individuals expressing personal political views on social media such as Facebook and Twitter are covered by this exemption and will not need to include a promoter statement.

    This exemption covers political views that are personal in nature. It does not extend to political views expressed on behalf of a group, organisation or views of a political party.

    Where an election advertisement posted on a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media is ‘liked’, ‘shared’, ‘retweeted’ or ‘reblogged’ by another person, it is the Commission’s view that the individual content appearing elsewhere online will not require a promoter statement if it appears on those other pages as the expression of personal political views by an individual who does not make or receive payment in respect of the publication of those views.

    MP contact details

    There is also an exemption for the publication of contact information by MPs.

    Further information for MPs is available in the Electoral Commission’s publication MP Handbook - General Election 2017.

    Requesting an advisory opinion from the Electoral Commission

    We are very happy to provide guidance to candidates, parties, third parties and media.

    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 still wish to seek your own legal advice.

    To request an opinion, please provide a copy of the advertisement and any relevant background information about the context of the 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 day 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.

    References to websites

    If advertising contains a website reference, you need to consider whether the website contains material that could be election advertising. 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 an election advertisement for the purposes of the Electoral Act.

    For example, if the statement: ‘Go to www. standupforanimals 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 words or graphics are used that encourage readers to visit a website, the content of both the publicity and the website will need to be considered.

    An advertisement ‘relating to an election’

    Even if an advertisement does not come within the definition of an ‘election advertisement’, it must still contain a promoter statement if it is ‘advertising relating to an election’ that is published in any newspaper, periodical, poster or flyer or broadcast on radio or television. [Section 221A of the Electoral Act]

    For example, a poster promoted by a third party that encourages the public to vote or not to vote at the election or encourages voters to think about a particular issue when they vote may not fulfil the definition of an election advertisement because there is no direct or indirect reference to a candidate or party or type of candidate or party. However, the advertisement will still need to have a promoter statement on it to comply with section 221A of the Electoral Act because it is ‘election-related’.

    Example: Radio ad
    If a third party wants to spend $10,000 broadcasting radio advertisements to encourage people to vote, this is not an election advertisement or election programme.

    There would be no requirement to register as a promoter.

    The $10,000 would not be an election expense. It is, however, election related and section 221A of the Act requires that a promoter statement still be included so that voters know who has promoted it.

    Electoral signs

    Local authorities are responsible for regulating when, where, and how election signs can be displayed.

    As the rules may vary between each local authority, the Electoral Act allows election signs up to 3 square metres in size to be put up from Saturday 22 July for the general election. This provision overrides any more restrictive local authority rules about the size of signs and when they can go up, but it does not mean parties, candidates and third parties can put their signs up from Saturday 22 July wherever they want to. Local authority rules about the location and density of signs and any application procedures to put up electoral signs will still apply. Some local authorities may allow larger signs to be put up and for signs to be put up before 22 July.

    Any queries or complaints about signs being up should be directed to the relevant local authority.

    A person must not pay an elector to display an electoral sign unless it is in the course of the elector’s business.

    It is an offence under the Electoral Act to display election signs on election day.

    Campaigning near advance voting places

    The restrictions that prevent electioneering on election day do not apply during the advance voting period. However, there are restrictions on campaigning inside or within 10 metres of an entrance to an advance voting place (“the buffer zone”).

    The full list of prohibited activities is set out in section 197A of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements in a buffer zone.

    Signs, clothing and other campaign material featuring party (other than a party lapel badge) or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos cannot be displayed or handed out inside the advance voting place or anywhere within the buffer zone. However, scrutineers and party supporters may still wear a party lapel badge.

    The rules about filming and photography in an advance voting place are the same as those on election day, see Part 3.

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    Part 2: Election broadcasting

    This section helps media understand the rules in the Broadcasting Act 1989 that apply to election campaigning on television and radio.

    Key messages

    Election programmes can only be broadcast on radio and tv from writ day (23 August) to midnight on the day before election day (22 September) (excluding 6am to noon on Sundays) - ‘the election period’.
    It is unlawful to broadcast an election programme prior to writ day or on election day.
    Registered political parties can only use funds allocated by the Electoral Commission to buy time to promote the party on radio or tv – though they can use their own funds for production costs.
    Broadcasters are required to offer the same rate card and terms to all parties and the same rate card and terms to all candidates (including any volume discounts and bonus allocations).
    Candidates can promote themselves on radio or tv during the election period, within their candidate election expense limit, provided the broadcast only features one candidate, does not promote the party vote, and does not attack other parties or candidates.
    Parties can use their allocation to promote candidates but candidate expense limits and donations rules apply.
    Changes have been made for 2017 to remove free time for opening and closing addresses, increase the amount of money available for allocation by the Commission, enable parties to use their allocations on the internet, and remove the requirement for broadcasters to file a return with the Commission after the election.

    What is an election programme?

    An ‘election programme’ is “a programme that—

    (a) encourages or persuades, or appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for a party or the election of a constituency candidate; or

    (b) encourages or persuades, or appears to encourage or persuade voters not to vote for a party or the election of a constituency candidate; or

    (c) advocates support for a constituency candidate or for a party; or

    (d) opposes a constituency candidate or a political party; or

    (e) notifies meetings held or to be held in connection with an election.”

    It includes “visual images, whether or not combined with sounds, that consist predominantly of alphanumeric text.”

    Election programmes may include:

    • advertisements initiated by parties or candidates
    • positive and negative messages by or on behalf of a political party or candidate, e.g., ‘Vote for X’ and ‘Don’t vote for Y’ (but candidates may not run negative advertising)
    • advertisements of election meetings by or for a political party or candidate.

    The courts have held that the election programme rules in the Broadcasting Act only apply to broadcasts for political parties or candidates and do not apply to broadcasts initiated by third parties or selected by a broadcaster, for example, editorial content, news, comment, current affairs, entertainment, documentaries, etc. (The Electoral Commission v Watson & Anor 2016)

    Broadcasting covers radio and television, including Pay TV such as Sky, but not other subscription or transaction on-demand online services. A broadcaster is someone who broadcasts programmes, but does not include a transmission service supplier unless they have some control over what is broadcast. The broadcaster will generally be a station or network manager.

    Broadcasting allocation

    Registered parties can apply to the Commission for consideration for an allocation of funds to spend on election advertising on radio or television. The allocation for the 2017 general election is $3,605,000 (plus GST).

    There is no allocation for a by-election, nor directly to electorate candidates.

    It is illegal for a party to spend its own funds buying radio or television time to promote the party.

    A party can choose to use the allocation on production costs for television and radio advertising.

    The allocation can also be used to produce internet advertisements that are published both before and during ‘the election period’ and to place or promote internet advertisements during the election period. Where the party uses its own funds for production costs on internet advertising published during the regulated period, these are election expenses for the purposes of the party expenditure limit. If the allocation is used for production or placement costs it does not count towards the party’s expenditure limit but has to be reported by the party in the party’s return of allocation expenses.

    An election broadcast or internet ad promoting an electorate candidate may be funded from a party’s broadcasting allocation or the candidate’s own campaign funds (within the candidate’s $26,200 election expense limit).

    Unregistered parties, and registered parties not allocated funds under Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act, may only use radio and television to promote their constituency candidates. The table below illustrates how the broadcasting allocation can be used.

    How can the broadcasting allocation be used?

    Type of advertising Production costs Placement costs Timing Election Expenses
    Radio and television advertising Parties can use the broadcasting allocation or use their own funds in whole or in part for production costs. Placement costs must be paid for out of the allocation. Parties cannot spend their own funds on placement. Advertising promoting parties and candidates can only be broadcast during the election period. 

    Production and placement costs funded from the allocation are not party election expenses.

    If parties use their own funds for any production costs these will be an election expense.

    If parties use the allocation to promote a candidate, then the cost (or the portion of the ad relating to the candidate) is both a candidate expense and a donation by the party to the candidate.

    Internet Advertising The broadcasting allocation can only be used for production costs if the advertisement is published during the election period or both before and during the election period.

    The allocation can only fund placement costs during the election period.

    Parties can spend their own funds for placement costs before and during the election period.

    Advertising promoting parties and candidates can be published at any time online – but use of the allocation for production and placement costs online is restricted as indicated.

    Production and placement costs funded from the allocation are not party election expenses.

    If parties use their own funds for production and placement, and if published during the regulated period, these costs will be an election expense.

    If parties use the allocation to promote a candidate, the cost (or the portion of the ad relating to the candidate) is both a candidate expense and a donation by the party to the candidate.

    Party election programmes

    Registered parties’ election programmes can only be broadcast during the election period (23 August to 22 September), excluding Sundays from 6am to noon and may advocate for or against a party and can attack a candidate. Registered parties may also advocate for an electorate candidate, with the candidate’s written authority.

    A programme may meet the test of being an election programme even if there is no explicit voting message.

    Example:
    If a party enters into a sponsorship agreement with a broadcaster for a sporting event the sponsorship statement may be an election programme because it ‘appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote for the party’.

    Candidate election programmes

    Electorate candidates’ election programmes can only be broadcast during the election period (23 August to 22 September) excluding Sundays from 6am to noon and must only promote a candidate’s own election. Although the party name and policies may be mentioned, the candidate must not encourage the party vote or promote the party list. Candidates cannot run advertising that attacks other parties or candidates, or their policies. All advertising must be paid for (although an advertising schedule may contain bonus airtime contingent on a spend level).

    A candidate may pay to broadcast election programmes or to publish advertisements on the internet promoting his or her candidacy or their party may fund it from its broadcasting allocation within the candidate’s campaign expense limit.

    A candidate cannot share their radio or television advertising with another candidate (unlike nonbroadcast advertising).

    Other election-related promoters

    Third party promoters (individuals or organisations other than candidates and parties) can undertake election broadcasting at any time except on election day. However, if the advertising is an election advertisement the third party expenditure limits will apply during the regulated period. The promoter statement and authorisation requirements apply to election advertising at all times (see Part 1). Any advertising is also subject to the ASA codes (see Part 5).

    Non-partisan, community service, station announcements (e.g., free listings of candidate meetings, encouragement to enrol or vote) may be broadcast, but must contain a promoter statement.

    Example: Broadcast ad
    If an animal welfare group wanted to place this tv advertisement it would be lawful for them to do so at any time except election day.

    It contains a promoter statement.

    The group would need to register to spend more than $12,600 during the regulated period and the overall expenditure limit for a registered promoter of $315,000 during the regulated period would apply.

    Broadcaster requirements

    Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring any election programmes are within the law and comply with broadcasting standards. Election programmes may only be broadcast during the election period.

    Election programmes are prohibited on television between 6am and noon on Sundays.

    There is no restriction on when broadcasters may begin to accept bookings for candidate and party election programmes, but broadcasters should check that any bookings made by parties are within the amount and any conditions of the broadcasting allocation under Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act. Bookings should record clearly whether it is for a party or a (named) electorate candidate.

    By law, the same rate card and terms (including any volume discounts and bonus allocation) must be offered to all parties and the same rate card and terms (including any volume discounts and bonus allocation) must be offered to all candidates. Party (not candidate) election programmes are eligible for Government Volume Incentive Discount.

    Editorial content - news, comment and current affairs

    As the courts have held that the election programme restrictions only apply to party and candidate programmes, broadcasters are not restricted in any way from broadcasting any and all editorial content, third party comment or opinion in relation to an election, e.g. news, comment, current affairs, entertainment, documentaries, etc.

    The content of the programmes will be subject to the broadcasting standards for radio, Free-to-Air and Pay TV, administered by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

    Example:
    A local radio station hosts a candidate to talk about issues of local interest in the week before the election with the broadcaster’s brief about the general programme format.

    After talking about the issues and the election and the importance of voting the candidate says: “Make sure you go to vote next Saturday and vote for me.”

    This would not be a breach of Part 6, but it would fall within the jurisdiction of the BSA and general broadcasting standards.

    There is no legal requirement for an on-air employee of a broadcaster to stop presenting their programme during the election campaign just because they are an election candidate. However, great care will need to be taken in how such employees engage on issues of the day that might be relevant to the election.

    Broadcasters and their employees should use their own judgement taking into account ethical, legal and employment considerations and broadcasting standards. If a candidate plans to continue in his or her broadcasting role during his or her candidacy, broadcasting standards will apply and he or she can expect to be the subject of careful public scrutiny.

    Party broadcasting allocation returns

    A law change means that broadcasters are no longer required to file broadcasting returns with the Commission within 10 working days after the end of the month in which an election is held. Instead, there will be a requirement on parties to file a return of all broadcasting allocation expenses with the Commission within 90 days of election day.

    Offences

    Under the Broadcasting Act a broadcaster may be liable for the following offences which are subject to a maximum fine of $100,000:

    • broadcasting an election programme of a type that is not permitted, or which is broadcast outside the election period (section 70)
    • broadcasting an election programme outside permitted days or hours (section 71)
    • not offering or giving identical terms of business to all parties (section 72)
    • not offering or giving identical terms of business to all candidates (section 72)
    • arranging for the broadcast of, or to broadcast on behalf of a political party, any programme or advertisement other than those meeting the requirements of Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act (section 80G).
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    Part 3: Election day

    This section outlines the special rules that apply on election day before voting closes.

    Key messages

    News items broadcast before 7pm must not include any words or images likely to influence voters.
    Newspapers published or distributed from 6pm on the day before election day to 7pm on election day should not include anything that could influence voters.
    Restrictions apply to photographing or filming voters or candidates at or near voting places.
    Election material should not be delivered to voters on election day.
    All election advertising that can be seen from a public place must be removed or covered before election day.

    No campaigning on election day

    The Electoral Act prohibits campaigning of any kind on election day and a person is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $20,000. The prohibition covers any statement that is likely to influence a voter as to which candidate(s) or party(s) a voter should, or should not vote for, or which influences people to abstain from voting. The general intention is to leave voters alone from midnight until 7pm on election day so they can vote without interference.

    Election day publications

    All election advertising and other statements by anybody, including the media, which could influence voters cannot be published on election day (23 September) until after the close of the poll at 7pm.

    Newspapers published after 6pm on the day before election day are treated as being published on election day. [Electoral Act, section 197(1)(g)]

    It is not a defence to argue that an election day publication is balanced (e.g., it looks at the pros and cons of a particular issue that has featured during the election campaign), or that it does not mention the name of a party or candidate, or that all candidates or parties are given equal coverage. The test is whether the publication is likely to influence a voter.

    Election day broadcasts

    News media may broadcast news in relation to an election provided the content is not likely to influence voters [Electoral Act, section 197(1)(c)(iii)]. For example, a news item may note that the election is taking place, when results will be available, and have footage of party leaders casting their votes. Candidate and party names can be mentioned, but the item must not include any words or visual images that are likely to influence voters about how they should vote.

    Broadcasters should take care with any items that feature candidates or parties, or include interviews with candidate or party officials. If in any doubt, broadcasters should delay broadcasting an election-related item until after the polls close at 7pm.

    Community stations also need to take care that programmes that would breach the election day rules are not scheduled to be repeated on election day.

    Examples:

    • News coverage broadcast before 7pm that shows a candidate at an election-related demonstration would be in breach of the election day rules.
    • An item broadcast before 7pm commenting on a party’s likelihood of winning an electorate seat or passing the 5% party vote threshold would breach the election day rules. 

    Media at voting places

    Media organisations can take photos or film at a voting place as long as:

    • the prior approval of the Returning Officer has been obtained. Media should contact the Electoral Commission before election day to arrange this
    • no photographs or footage are taken of voters actually completing their ballot papers or showing how a person voted. Media cannot go behind the voting screens
    • photographers or camera crews do not disrupt voters from voting, or officials from their duties
    • no undue delays are caused to voters
    • no interviews are conducted in or too near to the voting place.

    Websites

    Election material does not have to be removed from a media website on election day, so long as the material on the site is only made available to people who voluntarily access it. New election material that could influence electors must not be posted on the website on election day. Advertisements promoting the website must not be published on election day.

    There is no express exemption for editorial content or for personal political views online by individuals on election day.

    Where relevant, you should ensure public message boards and comment areas on a website cannot be added to on election day to ensure new election-related material is not posted on the website before 7pm. The measures you may need to put in place to ensure the rules are not breached will depend on the level of interactivity that is provided to others on a webpage or website.

    The same rules apply to the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. If you use social media, do not post messages on election day that could breach these rules.

    Delivery of election material

    Election material must not be delivered through the post or directly to mailboxes on election day. To avoid breaches, NZ Post will not accept election-related mail for delivery after Thursday 14 September (9 days before election day).

    To reduce the risk of delivery on election day, distributors should ensure that particular care is taken with the delivery of election-related material or inserts.

    If material is hand-delivered directly to mailboxes on the Friday before election day, voters will often complain because they think the material arrived on election day.

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    Part 4: General election results

    This section explains when and how votes are counted and results are released, as well as the processes for a recount or election petition.

    Preliminary results – election night

    After the voting place closes at 7pm on election day and all voters have left, the manager of every voting place will carry out the preliminary count of votes in the presence of scrutineers and voting place officials.

    The ballot boxes are opened and the party votes and electorate votes are counted. The result is phoned in to the Returning Officer and it is then input into the Electoral Commission’s National Election Results System. Results are displayed in real time on www.electionresults.govt.nz and at the same time are fed to television and radio media. Our target is to have 50% of voting place results available by 10pm on election night and 100% of voting place results available by 11.30pm.

    Special votes cast in voting places are not opened and must wait for the official count.

    Advance votes

    Advance voting for the general election will start on Monday 11 September. Advance votes (other than advance special votes) may be counted at any time from 9am onwards on election day at the Returning Officer’s headquarters if the Returning Officer can provide appropriate security. The start time may vary between electorates.

    The counts will be undertaken in separate secure areas. Officials and scrutineers in the secure area for the advance early count of votes must stay there until 7pm.

    Our target is to have advance vote results available by 8.30pm.

    Official results

    The official results are compiled in the Returning Officer’s headquarters by following a meticulous process which starts the day after election day. Electoral rolls are scanned and scrutinised to compile a list of all people who have voted (the master roll) and identify voters who have voted more than once. All votes counted on election night are recounted and checked to ensure accuracy.

    The Returning Officer checks the validity of all special vote declaration forms and the names of special voters against the electoral rolls and the list of late enrolments for the district. If the special voter is eligible to make a special vote and the voter’s name is found on the roll the vote will be counted. The party votes of enrolled voters who voted on the voting papers for the wrong electorate are also included in the count.

    If a name cannot be found, the declaration form is forwarded to the Registrar of Electors to check the voting qualification of the special voter. If the Registrar can confirm that the voter is enrolled in the electorate, the vote will be counted.

    The official results process will start on the Sunday after election day (24 September) but cannot be completed until after the last legal day for receiving special votes from other electorates and Returning Officers overseas, which is 10 days after election day (Tuesday 3 October).

    We expect to publish the official results for the general election 14 days after election day (7 October) by notice in the Gazette.

    The results will also be available at www.electionresults.govt.nz.

    Election of candidates

    After the official results have been published (and any electorate recounts have been declared) the writ is returned to the Clerk of the House with the names of the successful electorate candidates endorsed on the back. The writ is the written notice from the Governor-General instructing the Commission to arrange for the conduct of a parliamentary election.

    The Commission then determines which list candidates are elected using a statutory formula. The Commission publishes a notice in the Gazette to declare the election of list candidates.

    The Commission expects to make this declaration on 12 October, subject to any recount applications.

    Judicial recounts

    After the declaration of the official results, electorate candidates can apply to a District Court Judge for a recount of the electorate vote.

    The application must be:

    • made within three working days of the declaration of the result (by Wednesday 11 October), and
    • accompanied by a deposit of $1,000 (inclusive of GST).

    Only party secretaries may apply for a recount of the party vote. For more information see the Party Secretary Handbook – General Election 2017.

    Election petitions

    The only way to challenge the election of an electorate candidate is through an election petition. A petition may be brought by an elector or a candidate and is heard by three High Court Judges. It must be brought within 28 days of the Commission declaring the official results (by Monday 6 November).

    Only the party secretary of a party contesting the party vote can challenge the election of list candidates. To do this, they bring a petition to the Court of Appeal.

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    Part 5: Complaints about election advertising and election programmes

    This section explains what types of complaints are considered by the Electoral Commission, and the other agencies that are responsible for content of election-related advertising and programmes in different mediums.

    Introduction

    The rules in the Electoral Act and the Broadcasting Act impose procedural or timing requirements on publishers and broadcasters. The restriction on broadcasting election programmes outside the election period, and the requirement for all election advertising to contain a promoter statement are examples.

    The legislation does not prescribe the substantive content of election advertisements or election programmes, but publishers and broadcasters must comply with the relevant broadcasting standards or codes of practice.

    Electoral Commission

    The Electoral Commission is responsible for considering complaints about the breaches of election advertising rules and the election day rules under the Electoral Act and election programmes under Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act. The Commission has no prosecution or enforcement role. If the Commission believes an offence has been committed it must report the facts to the New Zealand Police. For a limited number of Electoral Act offences the Commission does not have to report an offence if the offence is so inconsequential that there is no public interest in reporting those facts to the Police.

    Complaints can be made in writing to enquiries@elections.govt.nz or by post to the Electoral Commission at PO Box 3220, Wellington.

    Broadcasting Standards Authority

    Election programmes on television and radio (which include party and candidate advertisements) come within the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA). Election programmes must comply with the Election Programme Code which is available on the BSA website.

    Third party programmes about election matters must comply with the relevant broadcasting standards for radio, Free-to-Air TV or Pay TV.

    Complaints about an election programme under the Election Programme Code must be made directly to the BSA:
    Broadcasting Standards Authority
    PO Box 9213, Wellington 6141
    Level 2, 119 Ghuznee Street
    Wellington 6011
    Tel: 04 382 9508
    Fax: 04 382 9543
    Email: info@bsa.govt.nz
    Website: www.bsa.govt.nz

    Complaints about election-related broadcasting by broadcasters and third parties under the broadcasting standards must be made to the broadcaster in the first instance. If a complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint to the broadcaster, they are entitled to refer their complaint to the BSA for review.

    For advice on the codes or the complaints process contact the BSA (telephone 0800 366 996 or email info@bsa.govt.nz).

    Advertising Standards Authority

    The content of election advertising in all media, other than election programmes on television and radio, comes within the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

    Advertising must comply with the ASA Codes of Practice.

    The codes are available on the ASA website. See also the Advocacy Advertising Principles Guidance. Complaints can be made directly to:
    Advertising Standards Authority
    PO Box 10 675, Wellington 6143
    Ground Floor, 79 Boulcott Street, Wellington
    Tel: 04 472 7852 or
    0800 ADHELP (0800 234357)
    Email: asa@asa.co.nz
    Website: www.asa.co.nz

    Press Council

    The New Zealand Press Council is responsible for considering any complaints about the editorial content of a newspaper, magazine or periodical in circulation in New Zealand (including their websites) or digital sites, with news content, that have been accepted as a member of the Council.

    Generally, a person bringing a complaint against a publication must, unless exempted by the Executive Director of the Council, first lodge the complaint in writing with the editor of the publication.

    If the complainant is not satisfied by the editor’s response or receives no response from the editor within a period of 10 working days from the date on which the editor received the complaint, the complainant may then complain to the Press Council (online at www.presscouncil.org.nz or PO Box 10 879, The Terrace, Wellington, 6143).

    Complaints must be made in writing preferably using the online form. Further information about the complaints procedure, time limits for bringing complaints, and a list of members of the Press Council are available at www.presscouncil.org.nz.

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    Appendix A: Further information about promoters

    Unregistered promoters

    An individual or group may be an unregistered promoter for the purposes of a parliamentary election provided that they do not incur advertising expenses exceeding $12,600 (including GST) in relation to election advertisements published during the regulated period. For more information on what is an election advertisement see Part 1.

    There is no requirement for an unregistered promoter to disclose how much has been spent on election advertising. However, unregistered promoters are required to keep records of the costs incurred in relation to election advertisements published during the regulated period for verification purposes until 3 years after the election.

    The following cannot be an unregistered promoter:

    • an electorate candidate
    • a list candidate
    • a registered party
    • a person involved in the administration of:
      • the affairs of a candidate in relation to the candidate’s election campaign, or
      • the affairs of a registered party.

    Registered promoters

    Any individual or group who is a third party promoter who spends, or intends to spend, over $12,600 (including GST) on election advertising during the regulated period must register with the Electoral Commission.

    The following cannot be a registered promoter:

    • an electorate candidate
    • a list candidate
    • a registered party
    • an overseas person
    • a person involved in the administration of:
      • the affairs of a candidate in relation to the candidate’s election campaign, or
      • the affairs of a registered party.

    A registered promoter can spend up to $315,000 on election advertising during the regulated period. For more information on the rules related to third parties see the Third Party Handbook - General Election 2017.

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    Appendix B: Quick guides for publishers and broadcasters

    Summary: CANDIDATE initiated advertising

    Broadcast advertising When broadcasts allowed Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party, candidate and party, or attacking another party or candidate Not allowed Not applicable
    Promoting electorate candidate only Election period (23 August to 22 September) Electorate candidate
    Non-broadcast advertising Period for which counted as election expense2 Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party or attacking party or candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Party secretary
    Promoting electorate candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Electorate candidate
    Promoting both electorate candidate and party Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Both the party secretary and electorate candidate

    1 Information about the authorisation and promoter statement requirements is provided in Part 1 of this handbook.
    2 There are no restrictions on when non-broadcast advertisements can be published, except that they cannot be published on election day.

    Summary: PARTY initiated advertising

    Broadcast advertising using allocation of funds by Electoral Commission When broadcasts allowed Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party or attacking party or candidate Election period (23 August to 22 September) Party secretary
    Promoting electorate candidate only Election period (23 August to 22 September) Electorate candidate
    Promoting both electorate candidate and party Election period (23 August to 22 September) Both the party secretary and electorate candidate
    Internet advertising using allocation When advertising allowed Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party or attacking party or candidate Anytime but must be published during election period (23 August to 22 September) Party secretary
    Promoting electorate candidate only Anytime but must be published during election period (23 August to 22 September) Electorate candidate
    Promoting both party and electorate candidate Anytime but must be published during election period (23 August to 22 September) Both party secretary and electorate candidate
    Broadcast advertising using private funding When broadcasts allowed Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party, candidate and party, or attacking another party or candidate Not allowed Not applicable
    Non-broadcast advertising using private funding (including internet) Period for which counted as election expense2 Must be authorised by1
    Promoting party vote or attacking party or candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Party secretary
    Promoting electorate candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Electorate candidate
    Promoting both electorate candidate and party vote Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Both the party secretary and electorate candidate

    1 Information about the authorisation and promoter statement requirements is provided in Part 1 of this handbook.
    2 There are no restrictions on when non-broadcast advertisements can be published, except that they cannot be published on election day.

    Summary: THIRD PARTY initiated advertising

    Topic Third parties can ...
    Election advertising - radio and television
    • Broadcast advertising that supports a candidate or party with the written authorisation of the candidate or party, subject to registration and promoter statement requirements and expenditure limits during the regulated period
    • Broadcast advertising that attacks the policies of candidates or parties
    Election advertising - other than television and radio
    • Support a candidate or party with the written authorisation of the candidate or party1
    • Attack the policies of candidates or parties subject to registration and promoter statement requirements and expenditure limits during the regulated period
    Topic Third parties can’t ...
    Election advertising - radio and television
    • Broadcast on election day
    • Broadcast in support of a candidate or party without written authorisation1
    • Broadcast without including the third party’s promoter statement
    Election advertising - other than television and radio
    • Publish in support of a candidate or party without written authorisation1
    • Publish without including the third party’s promoter statement
    • Publish on election day
    • Put new election material on a website on election day, advertise a website on election day or use systems on election day that make website election advertising available to persons who have not voluntarily accessed the website.

    1 Information about the authorisation and promoter statement requirements is provided in Part 1 of this handbook.

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    Appendix C: Election Statistics

    Election Statistics

    Total Voting 2014 2011 2008 2005 2002
    Number enrolled 3,140,417 3,070,847 2,990,759 2,847,396 2,670,030
    Total votes cast 2,446,297 2,278,989 2,376,480 2,304,005 2,055,404
    Number of informal votes* cast - Party 10,857 19,872 11,970 10,561 8,631
    Number of informal votes* cast - Candidates 27,886 53,332 25,332 24,801 26,529
    Turnout (all voters) 77,90% 74.21% 79.46% 80.92% 76.98%
    Special Voting          
    Number of special votes cast 331,005 263,469 270,965 248,677 218,846
    Percentage of total votes cast 135% 11.56% 11.40% 10.79% 10.65%
    Electorate with the most special votes Wellington Central Wellington Central Wellington Central Wellington Central Wellington Central
    Number of special votes disallowed 28,811 21,263 19,517 17,815 15,156
    Number of special votes disallowed - as percentage of special votes cast 8.70% 8.07% 7.2% 7.16% 6.93%
    Overseas Voting          
    Number of overseas votes cast

    40,132

    21,496 33,278 28,145 17,760
    Top five overseas voting places (votes issued)

    London (3,736)

    Melbourne (716)

    Perth (549)

    Gold Coast (447)

    Brisbane (420)

    London (1,134)

    Apia (442)

    Melbourne - VEC office (359)

    Melbourne - AEC office (178)

    Sydney - NSWEC office (161)

    London (2,964)

    Melbourne (603)

    Sydney (594)

    Rarotonga (372)

    Apia (361)

    London (3,402)

    Sydney (657)

    Melbourne (533)

    Brisbane (442)

    Apia (346)

    London (2,881)

    Sydney (790)

    Melbourne (395)

    Brisbane (384)

    Apia (334)

    Advance Voting          
    Number of Advance Votes 702,137 324,336 267,078 197,938 132,609
    Percentage of voters 28.7% 14.2% 11.27% 8.59% 6.45%

    Māori Roll

             
    Number of voters on Māori Roll 239,941 233,100 229,666 208,003 194,114
    Number of votes in Māori electroates 156,147 135,734 143,334 139,510 111,745
    Turnout (Māori Roll) 65.08% 58.23% 62.41% 67.07% 57.57%

    *Informal votes are where the voter's intention is not clear.

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    Appendix D: 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

    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
    Accessing legislation including the Electoral Act 1993 Parliamentary Counsel Office www.legislation.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
    Email: asa@asa.co.nz
    www.asa.co.nz
    Information and complaints regarding broadcasting Broadcasting Standards Authority Ph 0800 366 996
    Email: info@bsa.govt.nz
    www.bsa.govt.nz
    Information and complaints regarding press Press Council www.presscouncil.org.nz
    Election year guidance: Information on state servants being candidates State Services Commission www.ssc.govt.nz

     

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