New Zealand Law Society - Updates to Electoral Act 1993 recommended

Updates to Electoral Act 1993 recommended

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Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee has released the report of its inquiry into the 2014 General Election, recommending that the Electoral Act 1993 and regulations be updated.

By convention, after a general election, a select committee inquiry is conducted into the legal and administrative aspects of that election.

The committee was advised by the Ministry of Justice and received 211 submissions. Its resulting report makes a number of recommendations on the law and administrative procedures for the conduct of parliamentary elections.

It recommends that the Electoral Act 1993 and regulations be updated to remove references in the Act to the historical separation of services between the Chief Electoral Office, the Electoral Enrolment Centre, and the Electoral Commission.

Other recommendations related to proposed law change include:

  • Amending the Electoral Act and regulations to only prescribe the data and purpose of the electoral forms, to provide the Electoral Commission with discretion and flexibility to better meet the needs and circumstances of electors.
  • Amending regulation 36 of the Electoral Regulations 1996 to remove reference to "endorsement" in order to facilitate a fully electronic process for special vote declaration processing.
  • Changing regulations relating to dictation voting for remote overseas voters to allow for applications until 4pm on the Thursday before election day, and for dictation votes to be cast until the close of polling at 7pm on election day.
  • Enabling voters of Māori descent to change roll type once each electoral cycle with the Māori Electoral Option period taking place every three years.
  • Reviewing whether the emergency provisions in section 195 of the Electoral Act 1993 are adequate and fit for purpose.
  • Considering aligning the statutory tests of "election programme" in the Broadcasting Act 1989 with "election advertising" in the Electoral Act 1993.
  • Aligning liability for breaching Part 6 of the Broadcasting Act to apply to the broadcaster and any person who arranged for the broadcast of an election programme, whether within or outside an election period.