Part 5: 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 your organisation.

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 persons 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 bumper stickers, t-shirts or 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 election material for delivery after Thursday 14 September, (9 days before election day).

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

If you 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 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. You are entitled to contact voters on election day for that purpose, but you are not allowed to say or do anything to influence voters’ choice.

If you or your supporters are contacting voters door-todoor 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 a candidate or party name to ensure that there can be no suggestion that the canvasser is attempting to raise the profile of a candidate or party on election day. A phone canvasser can introduce themselves as ringing on behalf of the promoter.

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 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 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 third parties temporarily deactivate their Facebook election 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.

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 candidate or party names, emblems, slogans or logos.

Clothing promoting a candidate or party

Clothing (such as t-shirts) promoting a candidate or party must 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, even if it is not an imitation of a ballot paper.

Last updated: 29 March 2017