Candidate handbook for the 2020 General Election


Referendums on the End of Life Choice Act 2019 and the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill will be held with the general election. There are advertising rules and spending limits for the referendums, similar to those for third parties at a general election. This handbook will help explain how the referendum rules apply to you.

Advertising and campaigning

All advertisements relating to the election in any medium will need a promoter statement.

From 1 January 2020, parties and candidates can’t keep overseas donations greater than $50.

Enrolling and voting

People can enrol to vote online using their driver licence, passport or RealMe verified identity.

Voters in New Zealand will be able to enrol on election day.

Prisoners sentenced to less than 3 years imprisonment will be eligible to vote.

Counting votes and releasing results

Referendum votes will not be counted on election night — we’ll count referendum votes after election day. We’ll release preliminary results (ordinary referendum votes) for each referendum on Friday 30 October.

We’ll process and count overseas votes in Wellington rather than in the electorates.

The period for declaring the official results and returning the writ has been extended. After we count special votes, we’ll release the official results for the general election and referendums on Friday 6 November.

Key dates for a candidate

This table shows the key dates you need to know as a candidate for the 2020 General Election.

Date What happens
Monday 10 August Nominations can be lodged from this date
Tuesday 18 August The regulated period starts
During the regulated period, any advertising you run to promote your candidacy or an option on the referendum counts towards your expense limits
Saturday 13 September You can start broadcasting advertisements for your candidacy on TV and radio
Thursday 17 September Noon is the deadline for party secretaries to get their bulk nomination schedules and party lists to us
Friday 18 September Noon is the deadline for electorate candidates to get their individual nomination forms to us
Wednesday 30 September Overseas voting starts
Saturday 3 October Advance voting starts. You can’t campaign within 10 metres of an advance voting place
Friday 16 October The regulated period finishes
You must take down all campaign signs before midnight
Saturday 17 October Election day
Voters can vote between 9am and 7pm. You can’t campaign on election day
Friday 30 October Preliminary referendum results will be released (ordinary votes)
Friday 6 November We declare the official results for the general election and referendums
We aim to release the results by 2pm
Thursday 12 November If there are no judicial recounts, we return the writ showing elected electorate candidates and declare the elected list members of Parliament (MPs)
Wednesday 17 February 2021 The deadline for reporting your election and referendum expenses and donations to us
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