Candidate Handbook

This handbook provides information you will need as an electorate candidate in the 2017 general election and includes detailed information on:

  • becoming a candidate
  • recording and reporting of donations and election expenses
  • the election campaigning rules
  • the election day rules

Click here to view the Candidate Handbook in Te Reo Māori.

What’s new at this election?

There will be some changes to advance voting at the election. Campaign activity inside advance voting places and within 10 metres of the entrance to an advance voting place will be prohibited. There will also be a slightly shorter advance voting period, starting 12 days before election day, but longer opening times and an advance voting service will also be available on the Sunday before election day. As the number of advance votes has grown the early count of advance votes may also start earlier at the Returning Officer’s headquarters. These changes are explained in more detail in the handbook.

Key dates for a candidate

23 June Start of the regulated period The three month period before election day where candidate 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 that date subject to local authority rules about location
23 August Writ day Candidate television and radio broadcasting can begin
24 August Nomination period begins Individual candidate nominations can be lodged with the Returning Officer and bulk nominations of candidates and party lists can be lodged with the Electoral Commission
Noon 28 August Noon on day before nomination day Deadline for party secretaries to lodge bulk nomination of candidates and party lists
Noon 29 August Nomination day All candidates must have submitted their nomination by noon on this date
6 September Overseas voting begins  
11 September Advance voting begins  
22 September Day before election day End of regulated period. You must remove all campaign signage 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 January 2018 Candidate election expenses and donations return due  

 

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Part 1: Nomination of Candidates

This section explains the rules in the Electoral Act 1993 for electorate and list candidate nominations, including who is qualified to stand as a candidate, the timing of nominations and the different rules for individual and bulk nominations.

Key messages

The deadline for individual nominations is noon 29 August.
The deadline for party list candidate and bulk nominations by registered party secretaries is noon 28 August.
A nomination cannot be withdrawn after noon on nomination day (noon 29 August).

Types of candidate

There are two types of candidate under the MMP electoral system:

  • electorate (or constituency) candidates who stand for election in electorates, and
  • list candidates on party lists who may be elected through the party vote.

As a candidate you can stand for an electorate and be on a party list at the same election.

Candidate eligibility

To be a candidate you must:

  • be enrolled as a voter
  • be a New Zealand citizen, and
  • not be disqualified from enrolling.

The main grounds of disqualification for enrolment that could affect eligibility to be a candidate are:

  • being a New Zealand citizen outside New Zealand who has not been in New Zealand within the last three years
  • being in prison serving a prison sentence.

There are exceptions to these rules, for example, in relation to public servants or members of the Defence Force who are on duty outside New Zealand, as well as members of their families.

There are other grounds of disqualification that affect a very small number of people. [For more details see section 80 of the Electoral Act]

Bankruptcy is not a ground for disqualification.

If you were born overseas, you will be asked to provide evidence with your nomination that you are a New Zealand citizen (such as a certificate of citizenship or a copy of your New Zealand passport).

Where can candidates stand?

You may stand:

  • in a different electorate from the one that you are enrolled in
  • in an electorate and, at the same time, be on a party list, or
  • in either a Māori or a general electorate seat irrespective of your race or ethnicity.

You cannot stand for more than one electorate or be on more than one party list.

Nomination of state servants etc.

You can be nominated to be a candidate if you are a state servant, board member of a Crown entity or director of a Crown company.

There are special rules for some state servants who stand as candidates.

If you are a state servant, to avoid the possibility of real or perceived conflicts of interest, the Electoral Act requires you to take leave of absence from nomination day until the first working day after election day.

An employer may require a state servant to take leave before nomination day if they believe the candidate’s responsibilities as a state servant make this necessary. If elected, a state servant is deemed to have resigned from their state sector role.

We recommend you discuss your nomination with your employer and consult the guidelines issued by the State Services Commissioner (SSC) (refer www.ssc.govt.nz).

Nominating electorate candidates

There are two ways to nominate electorate candidates:

Bulk nominations

This is where the secretary of a registered party nominates all the candidates representing the party by lodging a bulk nomination schedule with the Electoral Commission in Wellington. This is the simplest method for a registered party and most registered parties use it.

Individual nominations

This is where two voters enrolled in the electorate nominate a candidate by lodging an individual nomination form with the Returning Officer for the electorate. Nominations will be called for by newspaper advertisement and information will also be on www.elections.org.nz.

A registered party can decide to use one method or the other but not both. An unregistered party may not use the bulk nomination method.

Bulk nominations

Party secretaries lodge bulk nomination schedules directly with the Commission in Wellington. The legal deadline for lodging a schedule is noon on the day before nomination day (noon 28 August).

If a party decides to nominate its candidates by bulk nomination, Returning Officers will not accept individual nominations for candidates representing the party.

You will need to liaise with your party secretary about the following matters:

  • the details you want included on the nomination schedule. The schedule records the electorate you will be contesting, your full name, the name you want to appear on the ballot paper if different to your full name (up to 30 characters in total), and the electorate in which you are enrolled
  • your consent to be a candidate. The consent to nomination form is available from your party secretary who will include them with the bulk nomination, and
  • the deposit to be lodged with the schedule. The party secretary must lodge a deposit of $300 for every candidate listed on the schedule.

Individual nominations

This applies if you are:

  • an electorate candidate who is representing a registered party that is not making a bulk nomination
  • a candidate for an unregistered political party, or
  • standing as an independent.

Two electors, enrolled to vote in the electorate where you wish to stand, must nominate you. You cannot nominate yourself.

Your nomination must be:

  • on the individual nomination form (follow the checklist on the back of the form)
  • lodged with a deposit of $300 (money, bank draft or bank cheque). Personal cheques are not acceptable. The bank draft or bank cheque must be made out to “Electoral Commission Trust Account”. See also Part 3 for information on returning deposits, and
  • lodged with the Returning Officer by noon on nomination day (noon 29 August).

Returning Officers can start accepting nominations from the time the writ is issued. We recommend you submit your nomination in person as early as possible and do not leave it until nomination day. This will allow time for the Returning Officer to check your nomination to make sure it is in order. The Returning Officer cannot extend the legal deadline of noon on nomination day.

You should discuss any difficulties you might have in physically getting your nomination and the deposit to the Returning Officer to see what arrangements, if any, might be made.

You are required to indicate on the nomination form whether you are representing a party or are an independent. If you are representing an unregistered party, provide the Returning Officer, if required, with evidence (such as a party constitution) that the party you claim to represent exists and evidence of eligibility to represent that party (such as a letter from the party secretary).

If you are representing a registered party and the party has a logo registered with the Commission, the party logo will appear by your name on the ballot paper. Only registered parties can have a registered logo.

Nominating list candidates

Secretaries of registered parties must lodge party lists with the Commission no later than noon on the day before nomination day (noon 28 August).

If you are a list candidate, you should liaise with your party secretary about the following matters:

  • your details to be recorded on the list, including your name, address and phone number, and
  • your consent to be a list candidate. The consent form is available from your party secretary.

A candidate contesting an electorate and the list can indicate consent to both on one consent form.

Withdrawing nominations

If you were nominated through the bulk nomination procedure or consented to be included in a party list through your party secretary, but wish to withdraw, you must do so before noon 29 August. Consult your party secretary urgently. You will need to complete the withdrawal of nomination from bulk nomination schedule form.

If you were individually nominated directly to the local Returning Officer you must:

  • complete a withdrawal of individual nomination form (obtainable from the Returning Officer)
  • sign the form in the presence of a Justice of the Peace or solicitor, and
  • return the signed form to the Returning Officer no later than noon on nomination day (noon 29 August).

A nomination cannot be withdrawn after noon on nomination day.

Death or incapacity of candidates

There are procedures in the Electoral Act that must be followed if a candidate dies or is incapacitated before nomination day, or between nomination day and the declaration of the official result.

If this happens to a candidate included in a party list or nominated in a bulk nomination schedule, the party secretary should urgently contact the Commission and fill in an application to cancel a candidate nomination on grounds of incapacity form (in the case of incapacity).

If the candidate is an individual nomination, the electors who nominated the candidate should urgently contact the Returning Officer and fill in the form to cancel the candidate’s nomination (in the case of incapacity).

Candidate name

A person can be nominated under the name on their birth certificate, the name conferred on them by means of an adoption order, a name they have adopted by deed poll, or a name which they have commonly been known by in the preceding 12 months. For example, a candidate commonly known as Mike Young can use this name rather than their full legal name Michael Young.

Titles and honorifics are not allowed.

Order of candidates on ballot paper

Electorate candidates are arranged alphabetically by surname on the right-hand side of the ballot paper with any registered logo to the right of the name (the electorate vote).

If your party is contesting the party vote, the name of your party will be printed opposite your name on the left-hand side of the ballot paper (the party vote).

If you are an independent, the space on the left-hand side of the ballot paper, opposite your name, is left blank.

Parties contesting the party vote but not the electorate vote are listed alphabetically on the left-hand side of the ballot paper, after the other parties that are standing candidates.

Release of candidate information

Individual nomination forms are available for public inspection by a registered elector of the district at the Returning Officer’s headquarters. When all nominations and all party lists have been processed after nomination day we will publish the names of candidates on www.elections.org.nz. We do not publish biographical information, policies, telephone numbers or email addresses.

It is common for the media to ask for the telephone or email contact details for candidates, in which case we will release them unless you or your party secretary tell us that you do not wish us to do so.

Candidate briefing sessions

Soon after the close of nominations your Returning Officer will brief you about the election process and your responsibilities as a candidate in an election. You may attend or send a representative. At these sessions, information packs containing a variety of materials will be available.

Contact the Returning Officer for information on the date and time of the candidate briefing.

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Part 2: Campaign rules

This section helps you understand the rules in the Electoral Act 1993 and the Broadcasting Act 1989 that apply to candidates at a parliamentary election.

Key messages

Election advertisements must contain a promoter statement.
Election advertisements (other than election programmes on television and radio) can be published at any time except on election day (23 September).
Election programmes can only be broadcast on radio and television from writ day (23 August) to the day before election day (22 September).
Other people can only promote a candidate or party with their written authorisation.
Campaigning on election day is a criminal offence.

Promoter statements

All election advertisements, irrespective of when they are published, 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 form of words recommended by the Electoral Commission is:

Promoted or Authorised by [name], [relevant full street address].

Failing to include a promoter statement is an offence and subject to a fine of up to $40,000.

The requirement for a promoter statement applies to all forms of election advertising in any medium. If the election advertisement is published in 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.

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 Electoral 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.

The Commission advises parties to include a promoter statement on their party lapel badges as they may be considered to be an election advertisement (see Part 4 for further information about party lapel badges).

Candidate and party election advertisements

Candidate advertisements for the purposes of the Electoral Act only relate to electorate candidates, not list candidates. An electorate candidate includes any person who has made their intention to stand as an electorate candidate publicly known, i.e. notifying their intention to the media or at a public meeting, or who has been nominated to stand as an electorate candidate and has not withdrawn their nomination.

Candidate advertisements promoted by you as a candidate need to include a promoter statement that features your name and address.

The address can be the full street address of either the place where you usually live or any other place where you can usually be contacted between the hours of 9am and 5pm on any working day. A Post Office box or website address is insufficient.

This address could include:

  • your campaign office
  • your party headquarters address, or
  • your parliamentary or out-of-Parliament address, provided that this is where you can usually be contacted between the hours of 9am and 5pm on any working day.

You may need to consult your employer before including a work address on any election advertising.

As well as promoting yourself, you may promote the party vote with the written authorisation of your party secretary, but the costs then have to be apportioned between your election expense return and the party’s expense return. You should consult your party secretary in that situation. [See sections 204H, 205EA and 206CC of the Electoral Act]

If you promote an advertisement that is both a candidate and party advertisement, only one promoter statement is required. In this case you are the promoter and the advertisement will only need to include your name and address.

Similarly, advertising undertaken by your party that may reasonably be regarded as promoting your candidacy will require your written authorisation and disclosure in your election expense return. Candidate advertisements promoted by your party must include the party secretary’s name and address in the promoter statement.

Third party election advertisements

Third parties (persons or groups other than candidates and parties, or persons involved in the administration of the affairs of a candidate or party) can promote candidate advertisements but certain rules apply, including:

  • a promoter statement must be included on all third party election advertising so that the public can see who is responsible for the advertisement
  • where an election advertisement is promoted by a third party they will need to register as a promoter with the Electoral Commission if they spend more than $12,600 on election advertisements during the regulated period (23 June to 22 September)
  • advertisements promoting your candidacy published by a third party must have your written authorisation. An advertisement promoting the election of one or more candidates must be authorised by each of the candidates. Advertising promoting both a candidate and a party must be authorised by both the candidate and the party secretary
  • the costs of any third party advertisements published during the regulated period that you have authorised will count towards your candidate election expenses and will need to be disclosed in your return of election expenses and donations (see Part 3) as well as counting towards the third party’s election expenses.

For further information about the rules concerning advertising by third parties see the Commission’s Third Party Handbook - General Election 2017.

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 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 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 television and radio 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, 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.

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)

Election advertisements 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) are called candidate advertisements. Election advertisements that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a party (whether or not the name of the party is stated) are called party advertisements.

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]

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 television 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 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 Facebook, Twitter, or other social media site 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.

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. 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.

Party logos

The presence of your party logo in your advertising does not in itself make it a party advertisement if the size and relative prominence of the logo is consistent with the purpose of identifying you as a candidate for the party and could not be seen as going beyond that. It will come down to matters such as the context, size, and relative prominence of the logo and whether in the circumstances the presence of the party logo can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for the party.

If it is a party advertisement it will require written authorisation from the party secretary.

Radio or television advertising

There are separate rules applying to radio or television advertising as distinct from other forms of advertising. [See Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act 1989]

Candidate advertisements may only be broadcast on television or radio within the election period beginning with writ day (23 August) and ending with the close of the day before election day (22 September).

As a candidate you can advertise on radio or television to promote your election. The cost of an advertisement will be a candidate election expense.

You cannot share television or radio advertising with another candidate or candidates. You can include information about the party you represent and its policies, for the purpose of promoting your own election. However, you cannot attack the policies of other parties or candidates.

Candidates’ broadcasts must not encourage voters to give their party vote to the party since this would constitute a party broadcast to which special rules apply.

For example, a radio or television advertisement could say:
'Tick Joe Bloggs, your Y Party candidate for Wellington Central.'

It must not say:
'Tick Joe Bloggs, your Y Party candidate for Wellington Central, and give the Y Party your party vote.'

Party political broadcasting is governed by a separate regime, with broadcasting money allocated by the Commission.

All broadcasts of election advertisements must include a promoter statement.

Candidates need to carefully consider whether any broadcasting that they undertake falls under the definition of ‘election programme’ for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act.

An ‘election programme’ is defined as “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.”

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

Press and other advertising

Advertising in forms other than radio or television can promote a candidate and their party policies or attack another candidate and their party’s policies.

Expenditure on press advertising and other forms of promotion such as signs are election expenses.

Canvassing and surveys

The rules relating to the requirement for a promoter statement and election expenses apply to election advertisements that are ‘published’. However, the definition of publish expressly excludes addressing one or more persons face to face.

This means that face to face canvassing activities are exempt from the requirement for a promoter statement and do not need to be considered in terms of election expenses.

Whether telephone canvassing or surveys are election advertisements depends on their content. The Electoral Act includes an express exemption for surveys and opinion polls from the definition of election expenses, but this does not mean everything published in a survey format will automatically be exempt. If a survey goes beyond merely eliciting voters’ views and can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a constituency candidate or political party (often referred to as push polling) then it will be an election advertisement.

If survey questions promote you or your party’s policies or ask questions in a leading way and direct the answers, then the survey is likely to be an election advertisement and needs to comply with the election advertising rules.

We are happy to review a proposed script or survey and provide a view on whether or not it is an election advertisement, candidate advertisement and/or party advertisement.

Websites and social media

Where a website, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or other social media, is used by a candidate, party or third party to express party or third party political views, the exemption for personal political views does not apply.

To determine whether a website or social media page is an election advertisement, the Commission looks at the content of the site or page as a whole. A candidate website may be made up of several pages containing, for example, information about the candidate and their policies, how to volunteer or donate to the candidate. If a candidate website has content that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for the candidate or his or her party the whole website will be an election advertisement.

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

Where the website or webpage is an election advertisement, a promoter statement does not need to be included 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.

Where you pay for an election advertisement to appear unsolicited on another person’s webpage, for example, a promoted post or banner advertisement on Facebook or Twitter, a promoter statement must be included on the advertisement itself. You cannot rely on a link back to another page which contains a promoter statement.

If there are a limited number of pixels or characters to include a promoter statement on the advertisement it is acceptable to abbreviate the promoter statement, for example ‘Promoted by Anthony Secretary, 111 Any Street, Auckland’ could be abbreviated to ‘A Secretary, 111 Any St, AKLD’.

References to websites

If advertising 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. standupforanimals.com 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.

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 people to enrol so they can vote in the election would 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’.

Electoral signs

Local authorities are responsible for regulating when, where, and how election signs can be displayed. You should consult with local authorities about their rules before putting up any election signs.

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 you can put your signs up from Saturday 22 July wherever you 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.

You 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.

Using schoolrooms for election meetings

Electorate and list candidates are entitled to hold election meetings in public schoolrooms free of charge (apart from the cost of power, cleaning and repairing any damage). Three days notice must be given to the governing body of the school. Applications must be granted on a “first come, first served” basis.

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.

The Electoral Act states that the provision of a light supper after an election meeting does not constitute the offence of treating. The provision of a cup of tea or coffee and a light snack after a campaign meeting, therefore is not treating.

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. 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 AGM, campaign launch or annual party conference where the primary audience is party members 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 parties and candidates and their supporters to act cautiously and with restraint in providing food, drink - especially alcohol - and entertainment as part of their political activities.

If you are concerned that what you are proposing could constitute treating you can seek the view of the Commission.

The opinion of the Commission is not legally binding. A court of law may reach a different view and you may still wish to your own legal advice.

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 or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos cannot be displayed or handed out inside the advance voting place or anywhere within the buffer zone.

Returning Officers are authorised to remove or cover any advertising in breach of these rules and charge the costs to the people responsible for their display.

You, your supporters and scrutineers may wear a party lapel badge. A party lapel badge is a badge or rosette designed to be worn on the lapel and bearing the party’s name, emblem, slogan or logo. Do not include your name on the lapel badge.

Streamers, rosettes (other than those designed to be worn on the lapel), ribbons and similar items in party colours may be displayed in a buffer zone but only on people or vehicles and must not contain party names, emblems, slogans and logos or your name.

The rules about filming and photography in an advance voting place are the same as those on election day, see Part 4.

Complaints about election advertising

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 and 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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Part 3: Election expenses and donations

Candidates are responsible for managing their obligations in respect of an election, including record keeping and filing a return of expenses and donations after the election. This section explains how much a candidate can spend on their advertising campaign, the types of donations a candidate may receive and the reporting of expenses and donations.

Key messages

You can start campaigning and fundraising for the general election at any time.
Spending limits apply to advertising published in the regulated period (23 June to 22 September).
There is no overall limit on how much you can receive by way of donations.
Candidate donations and expense returns for the 2017 general election must be filed by 23 January 2018.
All candidates must file a return of election expenses and donations, even if no money was received or spent.

Election expenses

Expenditure limit

Your election expenses during the regulated period (23 June to 22 September) must not exceed $26,200 (including GST). It is an offence to spend more than this.

If you are representing a registered party, you should stay in touch with your party secretary about advertising. This is because the content of advertising may mean that it is both candidate advertising and party advertising, with consequential effects on the expenditure limits and expenditure returns of the candidate and the party.

Election expenses

Election expenses are the costs of advertising in any medium that:

  • may reasonably be regarded as either encouraging voters to vote for the candidate, or discouraging voters from voting for another candidate, or both (whether or not the name of the candidate(s) are mentioned)
  • is published, or continues to be published, during the regulated period, and
  • is promoted by the candidate or any person (including a registered promoter) authorised by the candidate.

[See section 205 of the Electoral Act]

Candidate election expenses include:

  • the cost incurred in the preparation, design, composition, printing, postage and publication of the advertisement
  • the reasonable market value of any materials used for the advertisement, including materials provided to the candidate for free or below reasonable market value
  • the apportioned costs for advertisements that promote two or more candidates, or a party and a candidate.

[See section 3E of the Electoral Act]

Your nomination deposit or the costs of food, hall hire, surveys or opinion polls, free labour, or replacing materials destroyed through no fault of your own are not election expenses. The cost of any framework that supports an electoral sign (other than a commercial framework) is not an advertising expense.

Surveys and opinion polls

The exclusion for surveys or opinion polls is not unlimited. If a survey goes beyond merely eliciting voters’ views and can reasonably be regarded as encouraging voters to vote for a constituency candidate or a political party then it will not be a survey or opinion poll for the purposes of the Act. It will be an election advertisement and the costs associated with the survey are election expenses. If it is a candidate advertisement undertaken by phone canvassers who provide their labour free of charge, the costs are exempt. Any other costs incurred (for example, line rental and costs of any calls) would be an expense. The costs of paying any canvassing company to undertake the canvassing would be an election expense.

Vehicle signage

The costs of candidate advertisement signage on campaign cars and other forms of mobile candidate advertising are election expenses. However, advertising expenses do not include the running costs of any vehicle used to display an election advertisement if the use of the vehicle for that purpose is not the subject of a contract, arrangement or understanding for payment.

Websites

Election expenses in relation to candidate advertisements published on a website include the costs that you incur preparing, designing and publishing the advertisement including hosting fees. They do not include the costs of setting up and maintaining the hardware and software infrastructure of the website.

Items distributed for public display

If you distribute items such as t-shirts, bumper stickers and flags before the start of the regulated period, you should assume that they will continue to be displayed during the regulated period and include the cost of these items as an election expense. [See section 205D of the Electoral Act]

Care should be exercised with such items because you could be exposing your supporters to the risk of prosecution if they display the items on election day.

Items reused between elections

Expenses cannot be apportioned between elections. If you purchase materials such as banners and then reuse them in subsequent elections, at each subsequent election you must account for the reasonable market value of the materials as an election expense.

We suggest that you either use the price that was originally paid for the item, or if this is not known, what the item would cost to purchase now based on two quotes.

Staff time

The cost of labour provided to you free of charge is not an election expense. The cost of paid campaign staff, for example a campaign manager, is also not an election expense unless the staff member is directly involved in the preparation, design, composition, printing, postage or publication of election advertising. An example where paying staff might be an expense is where the staff member is directly involved in preparing copy or artwork.

Election expenses paid before or after the regulated period

Expenses paid for or incurred either before the regulated period (23 June to 22 September) or after election day (23 September) must be included in your return to the extent to which they relate to election advertisements published within the regulated period.

Apportioning election expenses

Where a candidate advertisement is published before and during the regulated period, you are responsible for apportioning the advertising expenses so that only a fair proportion of the expense is attributed to the regulated period.

It will also be necessary for you to apportion election expenses if the total expenses of an election advertisement relate partly to the promotion of your candidacy and partly for:

  • the party and/or
  • another candidate, or candidates.

Candidates sharing advertising costs with a party seeking the party vote should discuss apportionment arrangements with the party secretary.

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

Election expenses for advertisements promoted by third party

Expenses cannot be apportioned with third party promoters. If you authorise someone else to publish advertising encouraging people to vote for you, the cost of the advertising will form part of your candidate election expenses. The same costs will also be an
election expense of the third party.

You will need to obtain information from the third party about costs incurred. The advertising and expenditure rules that apply to third parties are set out in the booklet Third Party Handbook – General Election 2017.

Paying election expenses

Invoices for election expenses must be sent to you within 20 working days of the official result being declared (by 6 November).

You must pay any bill within 40 working days of the declaration (4 December). It is an offence not to do this. Sections 205H and 205I of the Electoral Act set out a procedure to follow if a bill is disputed.

Donations

Candidate donations

A candidate donation is a donation of money, goods or services that is made for use in the candidate’s campaign. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

Candidate donations, and contributions to donations, of more than $1,500 (including GST) are required to be declared in your return of expenses and donations.

A series of donations or contributions to donations made by one person that adds up to more than $1,500 must also be declared.

A candidate donation includes:

  • where a candidate is provided with goods or services free of charge that have a reasonable market value greater than $300
  • where a candidate is provided with discounted goods or services and the reasonable market value of the goods or services is greater than $300, the difference between the contract or agreed price and the reasonable market value of those goods and services is a donation
  • where a candidate sells over-valued goods or services the difference between the price paid and the reasonable market value is a donation, for example a fundraising auction or dinner
  • where credit is provided to a candidate on more favourable terms than those prevailing at the same time for similar credit, the value of the favourable terms is a donation.

The following are not a candidate donation:

  • volunteer labour
  • goods or services provided free of charge to a candidate, or to any person on the candidate’s behalf, that have a reasonable market value of $300 or less, or
  • money provided by the candidate for his or her own campaign.

If a person or organisation gives or pays for goods or services that would otherwise be election expenses, or your party gives or pays for expense items, the reasonable market value of those items, whatever their value, should be recorded as an election expense. If the reasonable market value of the items exceeds $300 it should also be recorded as a donation.

Party donations

A party donation is a donation of money, goods or services that is made to a party. Sometimes a party donation will be made via a candidate or an electorate committee.

If the donor does not specify whether the donation is to the party or the candidate, the presumption is that it is a donation to the party.

If you receive a donation that is for the party it must be transmitted to the party secretary within 10 working days of receipt or deposited into a bank account nominated by the party secretary.

You must also tell the party secretary:

  • that the donation is being transmitted on behalf of a donor
  • the name and address of the donor
  • whether the donation is made up of contributions
  • in the case of contributions made by any individual contributor that either on its own or when aggregated with other contributions made by the same contributor are greater than $1,500, the name and address of the contributor, the amount of the contribution (or the total amount of the aggregated contributions) and whether the contributor is an ‘overseas person’, and
  • the total amount of any other contributions.

If the name and address of the donor are not known the donation must be treated as an anonymous donation to the party.

Donations made up of contributions

A donation can be made up in part by funds contributed by more than one person (contributors), for example where there is a collection or whip-round for a candidate’s campaign. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

The total proceeds of a collection or whip-round are treated as a donation under the Electoral Act. The person who collects the money will normally be the donor. The individuals who contribute to the collection are contributors for the purposes of the Electoral Act.

If a candidate donation, other than an anonymous donation, is made up of contributions, the transmitter or donor must tell the candidate:

  • the name and address of the donor
  • that the donation is made up of contributions
  • in the case of contributions made by any individual contributor that either on its own or when aggregated with other contributions made by the same contributor are greater than $1,500: the name and address of the contributor, the amount of the contribution (or the total amount of the aggregated contributions), and whether the contributor is an ‘overseas person’, and
  • the total amount of any other contributions.

If you know, or have reasonable grounds to believe, that the donor has failed to supply information about contributions, the whole donation must be returned to the donor.

Example:

If person A writes four cheques for $500 to the candidate’s campaign committee and persons B, C and D each give $100, and the committee then makes a donation to the candidate, the candidate campaign committee organiser would need to disclose to the candidate that the $2,300 donation is funded from contributions including a contribution of $2,000 from person A, and provide person A’s name and address, and $300 in total from other contributors < $1,500.

Example:

If the electorate committee holds five fundraisers in the run up to the election and gives the candidate five cheques for $1,000 over a six month period this is an aggregated donation of $5,000. These are not contributions. The total amount needs to be included in the candidate return.

Raffles, stalls and other fundraisers

Supporters providing you with free cakes or other goods or services to use for fundraising are not making a donation for the purposes of the Electoral Act if the value of the items given is worth $300 or less. Purchasers of raffle tickets and cakes from a cake stall are not ‘donors’ as they are not making a donation to anyone. The total proceeds of a raffle or a cake stall for your campaign are treated as a donation. The person who runs the raffle or cake stall will normally be the donor.

If the total funds from the raffle or cake stall are over $1,500, then your return must include the name and address of the person who ran the fundraiser and subsequently donated the proceeds, along with the total amount given and the date that the donation was received.

Whether the individuals who purchase a ticket or buy a cake are ‘contributors’ depends on whether they bought their ticket or cake in the knowledge or expectation that some or all of the money paid would be included in a donation to the candidate. This will be a question of fact. It would need to be very clear to purchasers that it is a candidate fundraiser for the purchasers of tickets to be ‘contributors’.

If the purchasers of raffle tickets are ‘contributors’, the organiser must tell the candidate at the time of making the donation that the donation is funded from contributions. The donor must also disclose whether the donation is made up of contributions of more than $1,500. If an individual pays more than $1,500 for raffle tickets, their name and address would have to be disclosed in your return, along with the amount of their contribution.

If a ticket is sold to a fundraising event, such as a dinner, or an item is auctioned at a fundraising auction, the difference between the price paid for the ticket or item and the reasonable market value of the ticket or item is a donation. Determining the reasonable market value for unique items may be difficult. For example, if you have speakers at the dinner or auction a one-off item. However, you should not rely on the price paid at a fundraising auction as evidence of reasonable market value.

In the absence of an objective basis to value the donation component that you can defend, the Commission’s advice would be to err on the side of caution and treat the entire difference between the ticket price or auction price and the reasonable market value of assessable goods or services such as food and beverages, as a donation.

Example:

If person A bids and wins two separate items at a candidate fundraising auction and pays $1,500 for each item (i.e. $3,000 in total), both of which have a reasonable market value of $500 (i.e. $1,000 in total) - the donor responsible for the fundraiser would need to disclose that the donation is funded from contributions and identify that person A has contributed $2,000 to the donation and provide person A’s name and address.

Transmitted donations

A donation can be made either directly by the donor to you or indirectly by a transmitter who transmits a donation to you on someone else’s behalf, for example via a lawyer’s trust fund.

Any person who receives a candidate donation on your behalf must transmit it to you within 10 working days.

When transmitting a donation, the transmitter must tell you:

  • that the donation is being transmitted on behalf of a donor
  • the name and address of the donor
  • whether the donation is made up of contributions
  • in the case of contributions made by any individual contributor that either on its own or when aggregated with other contributions made by the same contributor are greater than $1,500: the name and address of the contributor, the amount of the contribution (or the total amount of the aggregated contributions), and whether the contributor is an ‘overseas person’ (see below), and
  • the total amount of any other contributions.

Where a transmitter does not disclose the name and address of the donor, the donation must be treated as an anonymous donation.

Anonymous donations

Candidates are not allowed to retain anonymous donations exceeding $1,500. An anonymous donation is a donation made in such a way that the candidate who receives the donation does not know the identity of the donor and could not, in the circumstances, reasonably be expected to know the identity of the donor. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

If you receive an anonymous donation greater than $1,500, you may retain $1,500 of that donation. The balance of the donation must, within 20 working days of receipt, be paid to the Electoral Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

A donation from a trust must include the names and addresses of the settlor of the trust, or the person at whose direction the donation was given.

Overseas donations

Candidates are not allowed to retain donations or contributions of more than $1,500 made by an overseas person. [See section 207K of the Electoral Act]

An overseas person is:

  • an individual who resides outside New Zealand and is not a New Zealand citizen or registered elector
  • a body corporate incorporated outside New Zealand, or
  • an unincorporated body that has its head office or principal place of business outside New Zealand.

If you receive a donation from an overseas person exceeding $1,500 (either on its own or when aggregated with all other donations from the overseas person), you can retain $1,500 of that donation. The balance of the donation must, within 20 working days of receipt, either be returned to the overseas person who made the donation, or if this is not possible, be paid to the Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

If you receive any donation from a donor who is not an overseas person that includes a contribution from an overseas person greater than $1,500 (either on its own or when aggregated with all other donations from the overseas person), you must return the whole donation to the donor. If that is not possible, you must forward the whole donation to the Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

Keeping records of expenses and donations

You must take all reasonable steps to keep records of all candidate donations received (even donations of less than $1,500) and all candidate election expenses. You must keep invoices and receipts for all election expenses of $50 or more for three years after returns are filed. You will need to have systems in place to track aggregated totals by donors for the purposes of the return.

Return of election expenses and donations

After a general election you are required to file a return of candidate expenses and donations with the Commission. [See sections 205K and 209 of the Electoral Act]

The return must:

  • be made on the Return of Electorate Candidate Donations and Expenses form, and
  • be filed within 70 working days of election day ( by 23 January 2018).

The return form is available through the Commission or through your party secretary, and contains detailed advice about how to complete and file the return.

Candidates representing registered parties are recommended to consult closely with their party secretary about their expense returns. This is because apportionment issues may arise between the candidate’s expense return and the party’s expense return.

If there are no election expenses or donations to report on, you must file a nil return.

The returns are open to public inspection and will be published on the Commission’s website.

List only candidates

A candidate who is on the party list and does not contest an electorate is not required to file a return.

Election expenses incurred and donations received must be returned by the party.

Return of nomination deposits

If you receive 5% or more of the votes cast for all candidates in the electorate you are entitled to a refund of the $300 deposit paid when you were nominated.

A deposit cannot be refunded until you have filed your return of election expenses and donations. If you were nominated by a party on its bulk nomination schedule, the deposit cannot be refunded until all candidates on the schedule have filed their returns.

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Part 4: Election day

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

No campaigning on election day

Any activities (including advertising) promoting the election of a candidate or party, or attacking a party or candidate, are prohibited on election day (23 September) and are a criminal offence. The full list of prohibited activities is set out in section 197 of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements.

You should be particularly careful to avoid any grounds for complaints against you or your party.

Before election day you must remove or cover all your election advertising that can be seen from a public place. Returning Officers are authorised to remove or cover advertising and charge the costs to the people responsible.

Signs on vehicles, including bumper stickers, must be covered or removed. T-shirts and flags featuring party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos cannot be displayed on election day. For this reason, the distribution of candidate or party bumper stickers, t-shirts and flags is not recommended. Once distributed, you cannot be sure that they will not continue to be displayed on election day. You could expose your supporters to the risk of inadvertently committing an offence.

Delivery of election material

You must not deliver election material through the post or directly to mailboxes on election day. To avoid breaches, New Zealand Post will not accept mail for delivery after Thursday 14 September (9 days before election day).

To reduce the risk of postal delivery on election day, candidates should also ensure that any mail is clearly identifiable as being election-related.

If you or your supporters hand-deliver election material directly to mailboxes on the Friday before election day, you can expect complaints by voters who think the material arrived on election day.

All complaints will be reviewed by the Electoral Commission and, where appropriate, referred to the New Zealand Police.

Contacting voters

You may wish to offer voters assistance to get to the voting place and can contact voters on election day for that purpose. However, you are not allowed to say or do anything which encourages them to vote for you or for your party.

If your supporters are contacting voters door-to-door or by phone, the Commission recommends that you use a script and advise your supporters to adhere to it to ensure that they do not make any statements that breach the law.

The script should not include reference to the candidate’s name to ensure that there can be no suggestion that the canvasser is attempting to raise the profile of the candidate on election day. A phone canvasser can introduce themselves as ringing on behalf of the party.

We are happy to provide you with a view on whether any script complies with the rules for election day.

Websites

Election material does not have to be removed from a website on election day, so long as the material on the site is only made available to people who voluntarily access it. New material 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 the expression of personal political views online by an individual on election day.

You will need to ensure that public message boards and comment areas on your website cannot be added to on election day to ensure new election-related material is not posted on the website before 7pm. The measures that 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 the 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.

The Commission recommends candidates temporarily deactivate their Facebook campaign page 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.

Party lapel badges

You and your supporters may wear party lapel badges in public on election day. A party lapel badge is a badge or rosette designed to be worn on the lapel and bearing the party’s name, emblem, slogan or logo.

Do not display the lapel badge on vehicles or in other places on election day.

Do not include your name or a website on the lapel badge.

The Commission advises parties to include a promoter statement on its party lapel badges as they may be considered to be an election advertisement.

Streamers, rosettes, ribbons etc.

Streamers, rosettes (other than those designed to be worn on the lapel), ribbons and similar items in party colours may be displayed on election day but only on people or vehicles and must not contain party names, emblems, slogans, logos or your name.

Clothing promoting the party or candidate

Clothing (such as t-shirts) promoting the party or candidate must not be displayed on election day.

Presence in voting places

Candidates and their supporters (except an authorised scrutineer) may only enter a voting place to vote. After voting, they must leave. You should not enter a voting place to interact with scrutineers.

If you wish to be filmed or photographed voting, you must have the prior approval of the Returning Officer.

Approval will be given on condition that:

  • the filming or photography does not disrupt the voting place, and
  • no interviews are given in the voting place or in the area around it.

Parties and candidates are asked to exercise restraint in the vicinity of voting places to avoid complaints.

MP signage

Fixed signage that does not relate specifically to the election may remain on display on an MP's out-of-Parliament office.

MP’s sign-written vehicles that include a party name, emblem, slogan or logo should not be displayed on election day.

Imitation ballot papers

You must not print or distribute, on election day or after midnight on the Tuesday before election day (Tuesday 19 September) anything which imitates a ballot paper (or part of a ballot paper) to be used at the election and which contains any direction or matter likely to influence a voter. Do not print or distribute on election day any card or paper showing the candidates or parties even if it is not an imitation of a ballot paper.

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Part 5: Enrolment

This section provides you with key enrolment dates for election year and outlines the resources and roll information that are available to candidates for the election.

Deadline for enrolment

Anyone who is enrolled by the Friday before election day can vote in the general election. This includes a valid enrolment application postmarked or date stamped by the Electoral Commission as received before election day.

Enrolment update campaign

The update campaign for the 2017 general election is planned to start on 26 June with a personalised letter sent to every enrolled elector at their current postal address on the roll to make sure they are correctly enrolled and ready to vote.

There will be follow up advertising telling people if they did not get an update pack they need to enrol or update their details.

Voters need to be enrolled by writ day (23 August) to be sent an EasyVote card. EasyVote cards are sent out to voters at the beginning of the advance voting period.

Encouraging enrolment

Candidates play an important role in encouraging electors to enrol and take part in elections. We can provide you with user-friendly resources to use as part of your canvassing activities.

We produce a range of resources in different languages that include information about enrolling and voting.

Information about printing or ordering these resources is available on our website or by contacting the Commission. Go to www.elections.org.nz/resources-learning, email: publications@elections.govt.nz or phone the Electoral Commission (04) 495 0030.

Parties, candidates and MPs can also contact their local Registrar of Electors to obtain lists of residential addresses where there are no registered electors.

Rolls and enrolment information

The Electoral Act provides that candidates can purchase electoral information in hard copy or electronic form for the purposes of their campaigns.

The printed rolls for the election will be available for purchase from 11 September 2017.

For information on the application process and the prescribed fees, email data@elections.govt.nz or phone the Data Co-ordinator on (04) 495 0030.

Checking your enrolment

Prior to nominations, you should check and update your enrolment details, if, for example, you have changed address.

Checking and updating enrolment details is easy. You can go to our website www.elections.org.nz and follow the instructions.

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Part 6: Ways to vote

This section describes the different voting services available in New Zealand and from overseas during the advance voting period and on election day.

Resources available

Candidates play an important role in engaging with electors to encourage them to take part in elections. The Electoral Commission can provide user-friendly resources for candidates to use as part of their canvassing activities.

We produce a range of resources in different languages that include information about the ways that voters can cast a vote, as well as print and video resources in accessible formats, Plain English, New Zealand Sign Language, and for those with learning impairments.

Information about printing or ordering these resources is available on our website or by contacting the Commission. Go to www.elections.org.nz/resources-learning, email: publications@elections.govt.nz or phone the Commission (04) 495 0030.

EasyVote pack for voters

At the beginning of the advance voting period each enrolled voter will receive a personal information pack containing:

  • an EasyVote card (or slip if enrolled late) to take to the voting place
  • details of the voting places and advance voting places
  • names of candidates for their electorate
  • party lists for those parties contesting the party vote, and
  • the contact details of the local Returning Officer.

It will be helpful if you encourage your supporters to use the EasyVote card or slip because it will save them time.

Ways to vote

A person who can be marked off the printed roll in a voting place will be issued with an ordinary ballot paper.

Anyone who cannot be found on the printed roll and individuals who cast their vote away from a voting place are required to cast a special vote. Special voting papers include a declaration form, which is completed and signed by the voter. There are a number of reasons why a person may not be found on the printed roll – for example, if the person has enrolled after writ day, is enrolled in a different electorate, is on the unpublished roll, or is not enrolled.

Voters who need help to read or mark their voting papers can be assisted by a friend, family member or electoral official in the voting place.

Advance voting

Advance voting starts on Monday 11 September.

A limited service for advance voters leaving New Zealand before advance voting starts will be available from the Returning Officer from 6 September.

Voters on the printed roll at the advance voting place do not have to make any written declaration to cast an advance vote.

If the voter is not enrolled he or she can complete an enrolment form either at the advance voting place or by enrolling online, at a PostShop or at the Registrar of Electors. Provided the voter’s application for enrolment is received by the Registrar of Electors or Commission before election day their vote can be counted.

Advance voting services can also be provided in mobile facilities – for example, a caravan that moves from one location to another. Mobile services are most often used in large rural electorates where voting services need to be provided for widely dispersed populations.

Information about advance voting places and mobile voting services is available after nomination day at www.elections.org.nz.

Election day voting

Voters can vote at a voting place from 9am to 7pm on election day (23 September). The doors close at 7pm - anyone inside the voting place at 7pm is allowed to complete their vote.

Voters do not have to be enrolled in the electorate to vote at a voting place in the electorate. A voter enrolled in any electorate can vote at any voting place anywhere in the country. Voters are not able to enrol to vote on election day.

Casting a special vote at a voting place or advance voting place

Voters will need to cast a special vote if they are:

  • not on the printed roll used to issue ordinary votes at a voting place
  • not enrolled by writ day, or
  • on the unpublished roll.

At the advance voting place or voting place these voters will be given a declaration form to complete with their voting papers.

Hospitals and rest homes

Vote issuing teams visit hospitals and rest homes to issue votes to patients and residents in the 12 days before the election. Issuing teams are accompanied by a Justice of the Peace.

Voting places are located in large hospitals on election day for staff, visitors and mobile patients. Voting teams also visit large hospitals on election day.

Takeaway and postal voting

A voter who is unable to get to a voting place can arrange for special voting papers to be picked up or posted to them.

Applications should be made by the voter:

  • in writing - voters generally complete the application for special declaration voting papers contained in the Unable to get to a voting place leaflet, or
  • by fax, email or telephone to the Returning Officer.

A family member or friend, party agent or any other person can be appointed to pick up takeaway voting papers for a voter. Special voting papers can be collected from voting places or from the Returning Officer’s headquarters during opening hours in the voting period.

An application for special declaration voting papers made by post, fax or email should be sent to the Returning Officer’s electorate headquarters. The Returning Officer’s contact details for the general election are published on www.elections.org.nz.

Where the voter requests postal voting papers, the voter should factor in sufficient time for the voting papers to be received and returned.

Completed voting papers must be received by the Returning Officer or a voting place no later than 7pm on election day. Votes returned by post must be postmarked before election day and received by the Commission or a Returning Officer before noon on the Wednesday after election day (Wednesday 27 September).

A candidate may nominate people to be authorised by the Returning Officer as witnesses of special voting declarations to assist people who need to vote from home (authorised witnesses). See Part 7 for more information.

Dictation voting

A phone dictation voting service is available for blind and vision-impaired voters and voters who have a physical disability that prevents them from marking the voting paper independently and in secret. Voters have to register with the Commission to use the service by 5pm on Thursday 21 September.

More information about this service is available at www.elections.org.nz in the run up to the general election.

Prisoner voting

During the 12 days before the election, mobile voting teams will attend prisons and set up voting facilities for prisoners who are eligible to vote. Prisoners serving a sentence of imprisonment are not eligible, but voting services are provided for remand prisoners. Returning Officers liaise with local Probation Services to provide voting services for people on home detention and other community-based sentences.

Teams may also visit any police stations in the electorate shortly after midday on election day, to enable registered electors who are being held in police cells to vote.

Overseas voting

Overseas voters can obtain their voting papers by either:

  • downloading them from the Commission’s website
  • applying to the Commission to have their voting papers posted to them, or
  • voting in person at a designated overseas post.

Overseas voters can return their voting papers by:

  • uploading their voting papers to a secure server on the Commission’s website
  • faxing their voting papers to the Commission
  • posting their voting papers to the Commission, or
  • posting or hand delivering their voting papers to the nearest designated overseas post.

Faxed overseas votes and votes returned using the overseas upload need to be received by the Commission before 7pm on election day. Postal votes need to be postmarked in another country before or on the second to last day before the election and received by the Commission or a Returning Officer before noon on the Tuesday 10 days after the election.

Information about voting at an overseas post is available at www.elections.org.nz in the run up to the general election.

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Part 7: Scrutineers and special vote witnesses

This section explains which parts of the election scrutineers can be appointed to observe and the training of special vote witnesses.

Appointment

You can appoint scrutineers and special vote witnesses. Scrutineers and special vote witnesses need to be well briefed on their rights and obligations.

A Scrutineer Handbook - General Election 2017, is available from the Electoral Commission, the Returning Officer, or www.elections.org.nz. The Returning Officer will provide training for special vote witnesses.

A candidate may not be appointed as a scrutineer.

Role of scrutineers

You may appoint scrutineers to observe the conduct of the election in the following situations:

Voting places and advance voting places

Your scrutineers can observe the issue of votes during election day and advance voting, and the preliminary count in voting places after 7pm. The number of scrutineers for each candidate in a voting place at any one time must not exceed the number of issuing officers designated for the voting place.

Scrutineers may:

  • require an issuing officer to question a voter who the scrutineer suspects of impersonation or double voting
  • communicate to party officials the names of persons who have voted in the voting place
  • observe the preliminary count.

Scrutineers must not talk to voters or help with the count.

Scrutineers may use laptops/tablets, but only on strict conditions. Scrutineers will not be allowed to engage in any activity on these devices which would compromise the secrecy and integrity of the voting place.

Laptops or tablets can only be used to record name, page and line numbers. Commenting on social media or using a video or camera is not permitted.

If scrutineers have any concerns about the conduct of an election in a voting place they should raise them with the Voting Place Manager.

Early count of advance votes

One scrutineer per candidate can attend the early count of advance votes at the Returning Officer’s headquarters which commences at any time from 9am on election day.

The Returning Officer will notify you of the start time for the early count for the electorate. Scrutineers may not leave the secured counting area in the Returning Officer’s headquarters before the poll closes at 7pm without the Returning Officer’s permission.

Special vote declarations

Scrutineers may attend the office of the Registrar of Electors to observe the checking of special vote declarations against the electoral rolls, which starts from the Wednesday after election day. Only one scrutineer per candidate may attend at any given time.

Scrutiny of the rolls and the official count

You can appoint one scrutineer to attend the scrutiny of the rolls and the official count at the Returning Officer’s headquarters unless the Returning Officer allows more.

Judicial recount

You may appoint one scrutineer to attend a judicial recount of electorate votes, unless the Judge allows more.

Hospitals and rest homes

Local party organisations may, with the approval of the person in charge of a hospital or rest home, appoint scrutineers to accompany an electoral official issuing hospital votes on or before election day.

Appointing scrutineers

Before being allowed to serve as a scrutineer, all scrutineers must make a declaration that they will not compromise the secrecy of the poll. The declaration is provided in the Scrutineer Handbook - General Election 2017 or is available from the Returning Officer and must be made before an electoral official, Justice of the Peace or a solicitor.

Scrutineer appointments must be in writing with your signature. You should provide your scrutineers with a copy of their written appointment to produce to electoral officials. The appointment form can be an original, fax or photocopy. It must specify the voting place and/or advance voting place that the scrutineer has been appointed to. It must also specify if a person is being appointed for the early count, special vote declarations scrutiny and/or the official count.

The Scrutineer Handbook contains an optional appointment form that you can use for appointing scrutineers.

Special vote witnesses

You may nominate people to be authorised by the Returning Officer as witnesses of special voting declarations. Appointments must be in writing with your signature. These people may then witness the declarations of voters who cannot get to a voting place on election day.

The Returning Officer may:

  • reject an appointment but must give reasons for doing so, or
  • revoke an approval if the person nominated does not comply with the rules for witnessing special vote declarations.

The Returning Officer will not approve special vote witnesses unless they have been trained to the Returning Officer’s satisfaction. This is to avoid voters being disenfranchised by incorrect procedures. The Returning Officer will advise you of training times for special vote witnesses.

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Part 8: 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 places close 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 Returning Officer will notify the candidates of the start time for the electorate.

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 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 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 Thursday 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).

If you wish to seek a recount, the Commission will provide you with information on the process to be followed.

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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Appendix A: Summary of election advertising rules for electorate candidates

Broadcast advertising
When broadcasts allowed
Must be authorised by1
Electorate candidate expense?
Candidate promoting party, candidate and party, or attacking another party or candidate Not allowed Not applicable Not applicable
Promoting electorate candidate only (not using broadcasting allocation2)

Election period

(23 August to 22 September)

Electorate candidate Yes (and the value is a donation if paid for by the party or campaign supporter)
Non-broadcast advertising
Period for which counted as election expense3
Must be authorised by1
Electorate candidate expense?
Promoting party or attacking party or candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Party secretary No
Promoting both electorate candidate and party Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Both the party secretary and electorate candidate Yes (for the cost of that portion of the ad relating to the electorate candidate)
Promoting electorate candidate Regulated period (23 June to 22 September) Electorate candidate Yes

1 Information about the written authorisation and promoter statement requirements is provided in Part 2 of this handbook.
2 Guidance on the use of the broadcasting allocation for advertising that promotes a candidate is provided in the Party Secretary Handbook - General Election 2017.
3 There are no restrictions on when non-broadcast advertisements can be published, except that they cannot be published on election day.

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Appendix B: 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
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/
 

Having your say on the law relating to parliamentary elections through the Inquiry into each election conducted by the select committee Justice and Electoral Select Committee

Justice.Electoral@parliament.govt.nz

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/scl/justice-and-electoral/

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
Information and resources on how to protect yourself online National Cyber Policy Office, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet www.connectsmart.govt.nz
Election year guidance: Information on state servants being candidates State Services Commission www.ssc.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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