Candidate handbook for the 2020 General Election

If you’re an electorate candidate, you can publish election and referendum advertisements. This section explains the rules you must follow when advertising and campaigning, including how much you can spend on advertising, restrictions on campaigning once voting has started and complaints about election advertising.

Different rules apply if you’re a list candidate only. Advertising counts as an expense for your party, and you must get your party secretary’s authorisation. Contact your party secretary for more information.

What is an election advertisement?

An election advertisement is an advertisement that may reasonably be regarded as  encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a:

  • candidate
  • party
  • type of candidate or party the advertisement describes by referencing views they do or don’t hold.

Election advertisements about electorate candidates are called candidate advertisements, and election advertisements about parties are called party advertisements.

What is a referendum advertisement?

A referendum advertisement is an advertisement that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote in a particular way in the referendum.

Whether an advertisement encourages or persuades voters depends on its effect as a whole

An election advertisement’s encouragement or persuasion can be direct or indirect.

An advertisement doesn’t have to include a candidate or party’s name to be an election advertisement.

Similarly, it doesn’t have to include a referendum option to be a referendum advertisement.

Whether an advertisement encourages or persuades voters depends on its:

  • content
  • style
  • apparent purpose
  • factual context
  • effect as a whole.

We must assess whether something is an election advertisement from the perspective of a reasonable observer, recognising the importance and value of political speech in a democracy (The Electoral Commission v Watson & Anor 2016).

Election and referendum advertisements can be in any medium

Referendum or election advertising can be in any medium, such as:

  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • posters
  • billboards
  • leaflets
  • TV and radio broadcasting
  • online advertising.

Unpaid advertising can still be an election advertisement or referendum advertisement.

There are exceptions to election and referendum advertisement rules

The following don’t count as referendum advertisements or election advertisements:

  • editorial content
  • personal political views online
  • an MP’s contact details.

Editorial content is any part of a publication except advertising or advertorials

Editorial content in periodicals, radio or TV programmes, and on news media websites are not election advertisements or referendum advertisements.

Editorial content includes any part of the publication except advertising, advertorials and sponsored content. It can include opinion and editorial pieces that others write, and contributions from readers the editor has chosen to publish.

A periodical is a newspaper, magazine, or journal that:

  • was established for reasons unrelated to the election
  • is published regularly
  • is available to the public.

A periodical can be digital or printed.

Personal political views online aren’t advertising if they’re unpaid

An individual publishing their personal political views on the internet or another electronic medium doesn’t count as election or referendum advertising. This exemption covers people posting on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

This exemption doesn’t cover:

  • any paid content
  • anyone expressing the political views of a group, organisation or political party.

Election and referendum rules apply to advertisements published in New Zealand or overseas

The rules apply to referendum advertisements or election advertisements published either:

  • in New Zealand, even if the promoter is outside New Zealand
  • outside New Zealand, only if the promoter is in New Zealand.

Publish means to bring to a person’s attention in any way, except for talking to the person face to face.

Your advertisements must include a promoter statement

All your election and referendum advertisements must include a promoter statement, even advertisements you publish before the regulated period.

There’s a limit to how much you can spend on advertising

If you’re an electorate candidate, there’s a limit to how much you can spend on election advertising during the regulated period.

There’s another, separate limit to how much you can spend on referendum advertising for each referendum during the regulated period.

You can get an advisory opinion on whether your advertisement is an election advertisement a referendum advertisement, or both

You can ask us for our opinion on whether your advertisement counts as an election advertisement a referendum advertisement, or both. We don’t charge a fee for this.

Our advisory opinions are not legal advice

Our opinions are our interpretation of the Electoral Act and Referendums Framework Act. They're not legally binding or legal advice. A court of law may reach a different opinion. You may want to get your own legal advice before you publish your advertisement.

Send us your request by email

To make a request please send us:

  • a copy of the advertisement
  • how you'll publish it
  • when you'll publish it
  • the scale you'll publish it on.

Send us your request by email:

Email advisory@elections.govt.nz

We'll send you an advisory opinion as soon as we can

Once we get your request, we'll respond with an advisory opinion as soon as we can. We'll aim to respond within 5 working days.

We’ll keep your request confidential until the election is over

We'll treat your request and our advice as confidential until after 13 November 2020. After that, we'll make our opinions available if someone asks for them, subject to the Official Information Act.

You can publicly release the advice we give you at any time, if you want to.

You must declare who is promoting your advertisements

All your election and referendum advertisements must include a promoter statement. This applies at all times, not just during the regulated period.

A promoter statement shows the name and address of the person promoting the advertisement. We recommend you word your promoter statements like this:

Promoted or authorised by [your name], [your full street address].

Your promoter statements must be easy to see or hear.

You must clearly display the promoter statement in your advertisements.

In our view, this doesn’t mean someone should be able to read the promoter statement from where you mean them to see the advertisement.

For example, people don’t need to be able to read the promoter statement on a billboard while they’re driving past it. A person should be able to read the promoter statement if they stop to examine the billboard.

Whether you’ve clearly displayed a promoter statement depends on the advertisement and the context it’s in.

Advertisements related to an election or referendum also need a promoter statement

You need a promoter statement in some types of advertisements about an election or referendum, even if they don’t encourage or persuade voters to vote or not vote for a party or candidate or referendum option and won’t count as an election or referendum expense.

For example, if you put up posters encouraging people to enrol to vote in the election, you need to include a promoter statement because it’s related to an election.

This now applies to advertisements in all mediums, including:

  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • posters
  • billboards
  • leaflets
  • TV and radio broadcasts
  • online advertising.

You could be fined if you don’t include a promoter statement

Not including a promoter statement is an offence. If you don’t use a promoter statement when you’re meant to, you could be fined up to $40,000.

There’s a limit to how much you can spend on advertising

If you’re an electorate candidate, there’s a limit to how much you can spend on election advertising and referendum advertising during the regulated period.

During the regulated period, any advertising you run to promote your candidacy or a referendum option count towards your expense limits.

The regulated period is from 18 August to 16 October.

Your candidate expense limit is $28,200.

Unless you register as a referendum promoter, your referendum expense limit is $13,600 per referendum. If you think you’ll spend more than $13,600 on referendum advertising, you need to register as a referendum promoter. Contact us for more information.

Advertising you run during the regulated period counts towards your expense limit

Candidate and referendum advertisement expenses count towards your limits if you publish the advertisement, or continue to publish it, during the regulated period.

If someone you approve promotes you as a candidate, this will also count toward your candidate expense limit. Expenses you paid or incurred outside the regulated period still count towards your limits if they were for advertisements you published during the regulated period.

Expenses include the cost of creation and the value of materials

Election and referendum expenses that count towards your limits include:

  • the cost of preparing, designing, composing, printing, posting and publishing the advertisement
  • the reasonable market value of any materials you use for the advertisement. This includes materials you get for free or below reasonable market value.

Candidate expenses don’t include the cost of:

  • your nomination deposit
  • food
  • hiring halls.

Candidate and referendum expenses don’t include the cost of:

  • surveys or opinion polls
  • free labour
  • replacing materials destroyed through no fault of your own
  • framework that holds up your advertisements (except for commercial frames)
  • running any vehicle you use to display advertisements.

Stay in touch with your party secretary

If you’re representing a registered party, stay in touch with your party secretary about advertising. The content of your advertisements may mean they count towards the spending limits of both you and your party.

Keep a record of what you spend on advertising

Keep a record of what you spend on advertising as you spend it.

You’ll need to report your candidate expenses to us after the election. You may also need to report your referendum expenses, but only if you spend over $100,000 during the regulated period.

Learn more about reporting your expenses

Take all reasonable steps to keep records of all your election and referendum expenses. You must keep invoices and receipts for all election expenses of $50 or more for 3 years after you’ve reported your expenses to us.

Expenses for advertisements that continue into the regulated period count towards your limit

If you publish an advertisement before the regulated period, the costs of continuing to publish it during the regulated period will go towards your expense limits.

You must split the expenses so you assign a fair proportion to the regulated period.

Contact us if you have any questions about splitting your expenses.

You must split expenses if you share an advertisement with a party or candidate

You must split expenses if your election advertisement also promotes a registered party, another candidate, or both.

Joint election and referendum advertisements count towards both your limits

You can’t split the cost of advertisements that are both election and referendum advertisements.

If someone else pays an expense for you, it still counts towards your limit.

If someone gives you or pays for something that would otherwise be an expense, it counts towards your expense limit. The expense is the reasonable market value for the good or service you got.

If the reasonable market value is more than $300, you should also record it as a donation.

Learn more about the requirements for donations from an overseas person.

Reusing items from previous elections counts towards your expense limit

If you reuse something, such as a banner, from a previous election, its reasonable market value goes towards your expense limit. You can’t split an expense over multiple elections.

We suggest you record the price you originally paid for the item. If you don’t know the original price, record what the item would cost now, based on two quotes.

Pay all advertising bills by Monday 25 January

Make sure you get all the invoices for your election and referendum expenses by Monday 4 December (within 20 working days of us declaring the official election result).

You must pay all these invoices by Monday 25 January (within 40 working days of us declaring the official result). It’s an offence to not pay your invoices on time.

If you’re disputing a bill, you can follow the procedure in sections 205H and 205I of the Electoral Act or sections 69-70 of the Referendums Framework Act.

How the rules apply to your advertising, shared advertising and advertising by others that you approve

Promoter statements, expenses and other election and referendum advertising rules can depend on who’s promoting the advertisement, and who the advertisement is promoting.

Your candidate advertising

Advertisements that you promote as a candidate need to include a promoter statement with your name and address.Your address can be the full street address of either:

  • the place where you usually live
  • any other place where usually someone can contact you between 9am and 5pm on any working day.

For example, you could use your:

  • campaign office
  • party headquarters address
  • parliamentary or out-of-Parliament address.

Talk to your employer before putting your work address on any election advertising. You can’t use a post office box or website address.address on any election advertising. You can’t use a post office box or website address.

You can use your party logo without promoting your party

You can use your party logo in your advertisements to identify yourself as a candidate for that party. If it looks like you’re using the logo for any other purpose, you could be promoting your party.

You should consider:

  • the context logo is in
  • how prominent the logo is
  • whether the logo encourages or persuades voters to vote for your party.

If you’re promoting your party, you’ll need written authorisation from your party secretary. You must also split the expenses with your party.

How you refer to websites can affect who you’re promoting

If your advertising refers to a website, the content of the website may help decide who the advertisement is promoting.

Listing a website is fine, but if you use words or graphics that encourage readers to visit a website, consider the content of both the advertisement and the website.

For example, if your print advertisement encourages readers to visit a website, and the website encourages them to vote for your party, you’re promoting your party.

You can share advertisements with your party or another candidate

You can share advertisements with your registered party, another candidate, or both. You’ll need to get or give written permission and split the expenses.

You can promote parties and candidates in your advertising

As well as promoting yourself, your advertisements can promote your registered party, another candidate or both. You must get prior written authorisation from the party secretary or candidate.

Your advertisements that promote you and your party only need one promoter statement. In this case you are the promoter and the advertisement will only need your name and address.

Parties or candidates can promote you in their advertising

Your registered party and other candidates can also promote your candidacy in their advertising. You must give the party or candidate your written authorisation first. The party or candidate must include their details in the promoter statement.

You must split expenses if you share an advertisement with a party or candidate

If an advertisement promotes you and your registered party, another candidate, or both, you must split the expenses with them based on coverage.

Talk to your party secretary if you’re splitting costs with your party.

How you should split the expenses depends on the circumstances of each case. Contact us if you have any questions about splitting your expenses.

You can promote yourself and a referendum option

If your advertisement is both a candidate advertisement and referendum advertisement, the full cost counts towards your candidate expense limit and your referendum expense limits. You can’t split the cost of the advertisement.

Other people and organisations can promote you

Third parties, people or groups other than candidates or registered parties, can promote your candidacy in their advertisements. They must include their name and address in the promoter statement.

The third party must have your prior written authorisation to promote you.

The full cost of third party advertisements counts towards your expense limit

You can’t split expenses with third parties like you can with registered parties or other candidates.

If you authorise someone else to publish advertising encouraging people to vote for you, the full cost of that advertising will count towards your expense limit. The same costs will also count towards the third party’s expense limit.

Get the information you need about the cost of the advertising from the third party.

How the advertising and expenditure rules apply to different types of advertising

The medium your advertisement is in can affect how promoter statements, expenses and other advertising rules apply.

Your website or social media account

Your whole website or social media account is an election advertisement if any part of it encourages or persuades voters to vote or not vote for a party or candidate.

The whole website or account is a referendum advertisement if any part of it could be seen as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote in a particular way for the referendum.

Even if you don’t pay to promote your website or social media account, it can still count as an election or referendum advertisement.

The exemption for personal political views online usually applies to individuals posting comments on your website or social media pages.

You need a promoter statement on your website or account

On websites, put your promoter statement on the page that contains the election or referendum advertising. If you have many pages with election advertising, put your promoter statement on your homepage.

On social media accounts, include your promoter statement in your ‘About’ or profile section.

You don’t need a promoter statement if you like or share an election or referendum advertisement that someone else published on social media.

Setting up and looking after the hardware and software behind your website doesn’t count towards your expense limit

Election and referendum expenses for websites and social media include the costs of:

  • preparation
  • design
  • publication
  • hosting fees.

The costs of setting up and looking after the hardware and software of the website don’t count towards your expense limits.

You can make your website accessible

We recommend you make your website as easy to access as possible. For example, you could make sure your website meets the New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standard

This isn’t compulsory, but it’ll make your website easy to access for people:

  • with low vision
  • with reading, learning or intellectual disabilities
  • using phones, tablets, screen readers or speech recognition software.

Your online advertisements

You can pay for an election or referendum advertisement to appear unsolicited on another person’s webpage. For example, you can:

  • place a banner advertisement on someone else’s website
  • promote a post on social media promote a post on social media
  • promote a web search result.

You must include your promoter statement on the advertisement

You must include a promoter statement on the advertisement itself. You can’t rely on linking back to another page which contains a promoter statement.

You can shorten the promoter statement if you have a limited number of pixels or characters. For example, you could shorten ‘Promoted by Alice Candidate, 111 Any Street, Auckland’ to ‘A Candidate, 111 Any St, AKLD’.

Expenses include the cost of creating and hosting the advertisement

Expenses for placing an advertisement online include the costs of:

  • preparation
  • design
  • publication
  • hosting fees.

Different rules apply if you advertise on TV and Radio

You can advertise your candidacy on TV or radio, but some separate rules apply.

These rules apply to a broadcast if a political party or candidate sets it up, and the broadcast does any of the following:

  • encourages or persuades voters to vote, or not vote, for a party or candidate
  • appears to encourage or persuade voters to vote, or not vote, for a party or candidate
  • supports or opposes a party or candidate
  • tells voters about meetings about an election.

You can only broadcast advertisements from 13 September to 16 October

You can only broadcast advertisements on television or radio within the election period. The election period starts on 13 September and finishes at the end of 16 October, the day before election day.

The general rule is that referendum advertisements can be broadcast at any time, except for on election day. However, it is likely that broadcasting by a candidate about the referendum will also be an election programme and therefore can only be broadcast from Sunday 13 September to Friday 16 October. If you are unsure whether your advertisement is both a referendum and a candidate advertisement, you should ask for an advisory opinion.

You can’t share TV or radio advertisements with your party or another candidate

In your TV and radio advertisements, you can’t do any of the following:

  • share an advertisement with another candidate or candidates
  • encourage voters to give their party vote to your party
  • attack the policies of other parties or candidates.

You can include information about your party and its policies, if you’re doing it to promote your own candidacy.

For example, your radio and television advertisements can say:
'Tick Joe Bloggs, your Y Party candidate for Wellington Central.

Your radio and television advertisements can’t say:
'Tick Joe Bloggs, your Y Party candidate for Wellington Central, and give the Y Party your party vote.'

You still need to include a promoter statement

You must include a promoter statement in all your broadcast advertisements, whether they’re election or referendum advertisements.

If you publish an advertisement only in an audible form, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Broadcast advertisements count as expenses

The cost of a broadcast advertisement will count towards your expense limits.

You can place an advertisement in a publication

You can place election or referendum advertisements in a publication, such as a newspaper, magazine, or journal. The publication can be electronic or printed.

Editorial versus advertorial content

If a publication, such as your local paper, asks you to write a column or opinion piece, it doesn’t count as an election or referendum advertisement. It will fall under the exception for editorial content.

However, your column or piece will count as an advertisement if you pay a publication to run it, for example as part of an advertising package.

Only the cost of the advertisement counts towards your expense limit

Only the cost of the advertisement itself counts towards your expense limit. You don’t need to account for the cost of the whole publication your advertisement is in.

You can put up signs, banners, posters

You can put up signs, banners and posters to advertise your candidacy or a referendum option. Remember to always include your promoter statement.

Local councils are responsible for regulating election signs in their region

Local councils are responsible for regulating when, where, and how you can display election signs. Talk to your local councils about their rules before you put up any election signs.

The Local Government New Zealand website can show you how to contact local councils

In the 9 weeks before election day (from Saturday 15 August), you can have election signs that are up to 3 square metres in size. This applies wherever you are in New Zealand, but you’ll still need to follow your local council’s application processes and rules about where you can put them up. Talk to your council if you want to have larger signs.

The timing and size requirements for referendum signs may be different. You’ll need to check with your council.

You can only pay certain people to display election or referendum signs

You can only pay someone to display an election or referendum sign if displaying signs is part of their business.

The costs of framing for election and referendum signs generally do not count as expenses

The cost of framing material that holds up signs, such as wooden framing, doesn’t go towards your expense limits unless they are part of the cost of a commercial framework you’ve used.

Mobile advertising counts towards your expense limit

The cost of mobile advertising, such as signage on campaign cars, goes towards your expense limits. The cost of running a vehicle with signs on it is not an expense unless you’re paying to use the vehicle to display your advertisements.

You can pay your campaign staff to work on advertising

The cost of paying campaign staff only counts towards your expense limits if they’re directly involved in doing any of the following to an election or referendum advertisement:

  • preparing
  • designing
  • composing
  • printing
  • posting
  • publishing

The cost of labour you get for free from a volunteer doesn’t count towards your expense limits. However, if a company donates its employees’ services to your election or referendum campaign, the employees’ time counts towards your expense limits and as a donation to you.

You can give out items

You can give out items to supporters to promote your candidacy or the referendum, such as t-shirts, bumper stickers, lapel badges and flags.

Count items you give out before the regulated period as expenses

If you give out any items before the regulated period starts, assume your supporters will keep displaying them during the regulated period and count the cost of the items towards your expense limit.

Your supporters can’t display items on election day

Take care when giving out items to promote your candidacy or the referendum. Your supporters could break the law if they display them either:

  • within 10 metres of an advance voting place
  • anywhere on election day.

You can survey, poll and canvass voters

Your surveys, opinion polls or telephone canvassing are election or referendum advertisements if they go beyond just getting voters' views. If they encourage or persuade voters to vote or not vote for a candidate, party, or referendum option, you’ll need to follow advertising rules.

For example, if your survey asks leading questions that promote your candidacy or your party’s policies, it’s probably an election advertisement.

We can review your canvassing script or survey and give our view on whether it’s an election advertisement.

If your survey, opinion poll or telephone canvassing is an election or referendum advertisement, any costs will go towards your expense limits, such as the cost of:

  • renting phone lines
  • making phone calls
  • paying a person or group carrying out the survey, opinion poll or telephone canvassing.

Face-to-face canvassing doesn’t count as election or referendum advertising

Face-to-face canvassing doesn’t count as advertising, so you don’t need a promoter statement and the costs don’t go towards your expense limit. However, the costs of any leaflets you hand out, for example, would be expense items if they promote you or your party.

Public meetings

You can hold or attend meetings with members of the public. Contact the organiser of an event if you have any questions about it. We don’t organise candidate debates or ‘meet the candidate’ evenings.

You can use schoolrooms for election meetings

You can hold election meetings in public schoolrooms. You’ll only need to pay for:

  • power
  • cleaning
  • repairing any damage.

These costs are not election expenses.You must give the school’s governing body 3 days' notice. Schools will provide rooms on a first come, first served basis.

You can’t treat people

Treating is giving people food, drink or entertainment to intentionally influence their vote. It’s a criminal offence to treat before, during or after an election.If a court convicts you of treating, you could:

  • go to prison
  • be disqualified from voting for 3 years
  • lose your seat in Parliament, if you have one.

Before you give people food, drink or entertainment, consider:

  • how much you’re giving, and how much money it’s worth. Ordinary hospitality that’s part of a political meeting isn’t treating.
  • who you’re giving to. For example, giving out food at an annual party conference, where the audience is mainly party members, is unlikely to be treating. Giving out food at a public meeting is riskier.
  • how much political material you’re giving with the food, drink or entertainment.

Providing a light supper, such as a cup of tea and a snack, after an election meeting isn’t treating.

To avoid complaints, we suggest you be cautious and restrained when giving out food, drink or entertainment as part of your campaign. Be especially cautious with giving out alcohol.

If you’re concerned that something you’re planning might be treating, you can ask us for our opinion.

You can get information about people who are enrolled to vote

You can buy lists of people who are enrolled to vote to use when polling and campaigning.

You can buy electronic or printed copies of the lists. We’ll make printed lists available in the lead up to the 2020 General Election.

Contact our data coordinator to find out how much the lists cost and how to apply.

Email data@elections.govt.nz
Phone 04 495 0030

There are limits on election and referendum campaigning once voting has started

There are limits on what you can do once voting starts on Saturday 3 October.

It's a criminal offence to do anything that can influence voters:

  • in an advance voting place
  • within 10 metres of an advance voting place
  • on election day.

This includes advertising, public statements, processions, and speeches, as well as displaying candidate and party names, emblems, slogans or logos. Sections 197 and 197A of the Electoral Act have the full lists of restricted activities.

The rules apply equally to the referendum, referendum voting papers, activities by referendum proponents and references to referendum options.

Remove all your election and referendum advertising that’s visible from a public place before election day (17 October). Returning Officers can remove or cover advertising that breaches the rules.

You can wear a party lapel badge or rosette

You can wear a party badge or rosette on your lapel at any time, including inside voting places and on election day.

Your badge can show a party's name, emblem, slogan or logo. It can’t show your name or website. Include a promoter statement on your badge because it’s likely to be an election advertisement.

Don’t display your lapel badges in other places such as on vehicles.

Showing and wearing party colours

You can display streamers, ribbons and similar items in party colours within 10 metres of advance voting places and on election day if both of the following are true:

  • they are on people or vehicles.
  • they don’t show party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos.You can also wear clothes in party colours if they don’t show party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos.

Referendum lapel badge, or rosette and colours

The same rules apply to the wearing of a referendum badge or rosette and colours associated with a referendum option. 

You can’t deliver election or referendum material on election day

You can’t deliver election or referendum material through the post or directly to mailboxes on election day.

To avoid breaches, New Zealand Post stops accepting election and referendum material for delivery from Thursday 8 October. Clearly mark any election or referendum-related mail you send so New Zealand Post knows not to deliver it on election day.

Be careful about hand-delivering election and referendum material to mailboxes on Friday 16 October. If a voter doesn’t check their mail until the next day, they may think it arrived on election day and complain.

We’ll review all complaints and refer them to the New Zealand Police if necessary.

You can’t hand out anything that mentions candidates or parties or the referendums

On election day, don’t print or give out anything that mentions any candidates, parties, or the referendums.

It’s illegal to imitate ballot papers

It's illegal to imitate ballot papers from midnight on the Tuesday 13 October to the end of election day. Don’t print or share anything that’s likely to influence voters and does any of the following:

  • looks like a ballot paper
  • looks like part of a ballot paper
  • lists candidates, parties, or referendum options.

Contacting voters on election day

Your supporters can contact voters on election day to remind them to vote or offer to help them get to a voting place. They can’t say or do anything to influence their vote.

We recommend your supporters read off a script so they don’t say anything that breaks the law. Keep candidate names and the referendum out of your script. That way there's no suggestion you're trying to promote yourself, or how to vote in the referendum, on election day in breach of the rules.

You can contact us to get our opinion on whether your script follows the rules for election day.

Be careful what you post on websites and social media

On election day, it's illegal to post or share anything that’s likely to influence voters. This includes photos of completed ballot papers. Posting your personal political views on election day can also break the law.

You can keep existing election and referendum material on your website or social media page, so long as all the following apply:

  • you published the material before election day
  • the material is only available to people who voluntarily access it
  • you don’t publish advertisements promoting the page or site on election day.

We recommend you disable the public message boards and comment sections of your websites and social media on election day. This will stop users from posting new election and referendum-related material.

Don’t post anything that encourages voters to vote, or not vote, for candidates, parties or referendum options. We recommend you don’t use profile pictures or frames that support a candidate, party or referendum option.

Take down your signs and posters before election day

Take down your election and referendum signs and posters before election day. This includes signs and graphics on vehicles, and bumper stickers.

If you have any election or referendum signs or posters within 10 metres of what will be an advance voting place, take them down before advance voting starts.

Members of Parliament can keep signs on their offices

If you’re an MP, you can keep fixed signs on your out-of-Parliament office if they don’t refer to the election or referendum.

You can only enter a voting place to vote

You may only enter a voting or advance voting place to vote. Once you've voted, you must leave.

When you're near a voting place on election day or within 10 metres of an advance voting place, do not say or do anything that could influence voters. Exercise restraint to avoid complaints.

You can get permission to film and photograph

You can have someone to film or photograph you voting if you have permission from the returning officer.

Contact us before the voting period to get permission.

If the returning officer gives you permission, you must agree to not:

  • disrupt the voting place with your filming or photography
  • photograph or film voters completing their ballot papers
  • give or conduct interviews in or near the voting place.

Complaints about election advertising

There are different agencies people can go to if they have concerns about an election or referendum advertisement.

Contact us about breaches of election or referendum advertising rules

The Commission is responsible for ensuring that the rules regarding transparency of promoter statements, authorisation of advertising and electoral finance rules are being complied with. You can complain to us about breaches of election advertising and the election day rules under the Electoral Act, referendum advertising rules under the Referendums Framework Act, and election programmes under the Broadcasting Act.

Post or email your complaint to us:
Electoral Commission
PO Box 3220
Wellington
Email enquiries@elections.govt.nz

If we believe the person or group has committed an offence, we’ll report the facts to the police. We can’t enforce laws or prosecute offenders.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority, the ASA and the Media Council all have roles when it comes to considering whether the content of campaign advertising, broadcasts and media activity meets the relevant standards they administer.

Contact the Broadcasting Standards Authority about broadcasting

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) oversees broadcasting on TV and radio.

Election programmes must follow the Election Programmes Code

Election programmes on TV and radio, such as party and candidate advertisements, must follow the Election Programmes Code of Broadcasting Practice.

The BSA website has more information about the code, and how to complain under it

Third-party programmes must follow broadcasting standards

Third party programmes about elections and referendums must follow the relevant broadcasting standards for radio, free-to-air TV or pay TV.

If you think a programme has breached a standard, complain to the broadcaster first. If you can’t resolve your complaint, you can go to the BSA.

The BSA website has more information about the standards and how to complain

Contact the Advertising Standards Authority about other election or referendum advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) oversees advertising in all media other than party or candidate election programme broadcasts on TV and radio.

Referendum and election advertising must comply with the ASA Codes of Practice. The ASA website has more information about the codes and how to complain

Contact the Media Council about editorial content

The New Zealand Media Council oversees its members, which include publications and news websites.

If you want to complain about editorial content, you must go to the publisher first. If you can’t resolve your complaint, you can go to the Council.

The Media Council website has more information about its members, and how to complain:
Contact local councils about election signs

If you have any questions or complaints about the placement of election signs, talk to the local council of the area the sign is in.

The Local Government New Zealand website can show you how to contact local councils.

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