Part 1: Nomination of Candidates

This section explains the rules in the Electoral Act 1993 for the nomination of candidates at a by-election, including who is qualified to stand as a candidate and the timing of nominations.

Key messages
The deadline for nominations is noon on nomination day.
A candidate must be nominated by two registered electors enrolled in the electoral district to be contested.
A nomination cannot be withdrawn after noon on nomination day.

Candidates at a by-election

Only electorate candidates stand at a by-election.

There is only one vote allowed on the ballot paper at a by-election, for the preferred electorate candidate.

List MPs can stand as a candidate at a by-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 either a Māori or a general electorate seat irrespective of your race or ethnicity.

If more than one by-election is to be held on the same election day, you may only contest one of those by-elections.

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 


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

The Returning Officer will advertise for nominations in local newspapers and information will also be on

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.

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. 

Withdrawing nominations 

To withdraw your nomination 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.

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. 

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 ballot paper with any registered logo to the right of the name. 

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 have been processed after nomination day we will publish the names of candidates on 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 tell us that you do not wish us to do so. 

Candidate briefing session

The Returning Officer will brief you about the election process and your responsibilities as a candidate in a by-election. You may attend or send a representative. At this session, information packs containing a variety of materials will be available.

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

Last updated: 11 May 2018