Party Secretary handbook

This section explains the rules for nominating electorate and list candidates. Find out who can be a candidate, the timing of nominations and the different ways you can nominate candidates.

You can nominate electorate candidates, list candidates or both

There are two types of candidate under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system:

  • electorate candidates, who become members of Parliament (MPs) by winning electorate votes
  • list candidates, who are on registered party lists and can become MPs through the party vote.

A candidate can contest an electorate and be on a party list at the same election. A candidate can only contest one electorate and be on one party list for each election. 

Candidates must be New Zealand citizens who are enrolled to vote

To be a candidate, a person must be both:

  • enrolled to vote
  • a New Zealand citizen.

Send evidence of citizenship if a candidate was born overseas

If a candidate was born overseas, we need evidence that they are a New Zealand citizen with their nomination. This evidence could be a certificate of citizenship or a copy of their New Zealand passport.

There are two main grounds that disqualify someone from enrolling

A person can’t enrol to vote if they’re either:

  • a New Zealand citizen who hasn’t been in New Zealand within the last 3 years
  • in prison serving a prison sentence of 3 years or more.

There are exceptions to these rules. For example, the 3 years rule doesn’t apply to public servants or members of the Defence Force who are on duty outside New Zealand, or members of their families.

Other grounds for disqualification only affect a few people.

There are other grounds of disqualification that affect a very small number of people. You can find out more on the New Zealand legislation website:

www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/DLM308839.html

There are special rules for nominating state servants

State servants, board members of Crown entities and directors of Crown companies can become candidates.

State servants who want to be candidates must take leave starting on 18 September and ending on Monday 19 October, the first working day after election day. Taking leave helps avoid the possibility of real or perceived conflicts of interest.

The candidate’s employer may need the candidate to take leave before 18 September if they think the candidate’s responsibilities as a state servant make this necessary.

If a state servant is elected, they will have to resign from their state sector role.

Before they seek a nomination, state servants should talk to their employers and check the State Services Commissioner’s guidelines at: www.ssc.govt.nz 

You can nominate your electorate candidates in bulk

If you’re the secretary of a registered party, you can nominate all your party’s electorate candidates at once with a bulk nomination. This is the simplest way for registered parties to nominate candidates, and most registered parties use it.

If you’re the secretary of a registered party, you can nominate all your party’s electorate candidates at once with a bulk nomination. This is the simplest way for registered parties to nominate candidates, and most registered parties use it.If you don’t want to make a bulk nomination, or you’re an unregistered party, your candidates can get individual nominations. Find out more in our candidate handbook for the 2020 General Election and Referendums. You can use a bulk nomination or individual nominations, but not both.

Tell us you plan to make a bulk nomination by Monday 14 September

If your party decides to make a bulk nomination, you need to formally tell us by completing the Notice of Intention to complete a Bulk Nomination form. The due date for this form is Monday 14 September.

If you change your mind, complete the Withdrawal of Notice of Intention to complete a Bulk Nomination form.

We'll provide you with the Notice of Intention to complete a Bulk Nomination form and Withdrawal of Notice of Intention to complete a Bulk Nomination form.

You can sign up to our online system to make bulk nominations easier.

The Notice of Intention form will ask you whether you want to use our online system to complete your bulk nomination schedule online. If you do, training will be available and we’ll send you a login ID, password, and user guide in early August.

Complete the bulk nomination schedule

Complete your bulk nomination schedule and include the following details for each candidate you’re nominating:

  • the electorate they will contest
  • their full name
  • the name they want to appear on the ballot paper (up to 30 characters long)
  • the electorate they’re enrolled in.

Attach a consent form for each candidate

Get each candidate to sign a consent form and include the forms with your bulk nomination schedule.

Candidates going on the party list and contesting an electorate can give their consent to both on one consent form.

Include a $300 deposit for each candidate

Include a $300 deposit (including GST) for each candidate. You must pay the deposit for all candidates with either:

  • one bank draft or bank cheque made out to ‘Electoral Commission Trust Account’
  • direct credit.

If you pay with direct credit

Pay the direct credit into the following account, with your party name as a reference:

Electoral Commission Trust Account 

BNZ

02 0506 0077208 00

Include evidence of the time and date you made the deposit with your schedule. The evidence could be a copy of your receipt from the bank or a copy of your online transaction confirmation. 

Make sure that you leave enough time for your bank to process your payment before the deadline. Don’t pay with direct credit on the day before nomination day.

Sign the statutory declaration in your schedule

Sign the statutory declaration in your schedule that says you’re satisfied that each candidate on the schedule can qualify as an electorate candidate.

Send us your bulk nomination schedule by noon Thursday 17 September

You must get your bulk nomination schedule, consent forms, and deposit to us by noon on Thursday 17 September.

We recommend you bring your schedule to us in person as early as possible. This gives us time to check your nomination to make sure we can accept it. We can’t extend the nomination deadline.

You have until noon Friday 18 September to change your bulk nomination schedule

You have until noon on Friday 18 September to fix any errors in your bulk nomination schedule, or any document you lodged with the schedule. 

This doesn’t mean you can substitute or add new candidates to the schedule.

Your candidates can’t submit individual nominations if you’re making a bulk nomination

If you’re making a bulk nomination, that’s the only way your candidates can become electorate candidates. We won’t accept individual nominations for candidates representing your party. 

You nominate list candidates with your party list

If you’re the secretary of a registered party, you nominate your party’s list candidates by including their details in your party list and delivering the list to us. You can use the Commission’s online system to compile your party list documents.

Complete your party list and declaration form

Complete your party list and declaration form, listing your candidates in order of preference. Include the following details for each candidate you’re nominating:

  • their full name
  • their address
  • their phone number.

Attach a consent form for each candidate

Get each candidate to sign a consent form and include the forms with your party list.

Candidates going on the party list and contesting an electorate can give their consent to both on one consent form.

Include a $1000 deposit

Include a $1000 deposit (including GST) with your party list. You must pay the deposit with either:

  • a bank draft or bank cheque made out to ‘Electoral Commission Trust Account’
  • direct credit.

If you pay with direct credit:

Pay the direct credit into the following account, with your party name as a reference:

Electoral Commission Trust Account 

BNZ

02 0506 0077208 00

Include evidence of the time and date you made the deposit with your schedule. The evidence could be a copy of your receipt from the bank or a copy of your online transaction confirmation.

Make sure that you leave enough time for your bank to process your payment before the deadline. Don’t pay with direct credit on the day before nomination day.

Sign the statutory declaration and list any component parties

Sign the statutory declaration in your form that says:

  • you’re satisfied that each candidate on the list can qualify as a list candidate
  • whether your party has one or more component parties. List your component parties if you have any.

Send us your party list by noon Thursday 17 September

You must get your party list, consent forms, and deposit to us by noon on Thursday 17 September.

We recommend you bring your party list to us in person as early as possible. This gives us time to check your nomination to make sure we can accept it. We can’t extend the nomination deadline.

Tell us if there’s any change to your component parties

You must tell us about any change in your party’s component parties that happens before election day. Tell us as soon as possible by making a statutory declaration Notice of Change of Party List Declaration.

We can give you a Notice of Change of Party List Declaration form if you need one.

You can withdraw your candidates’ nominations

You can withdraw your bulk nomination schedule or party list. A candidate can also withdraw themselves from a bulk nomination schedule.

You can withdraw a bulk nomination

Withdraw your bulk nomination schedule by completing a Withdrawal of Bulk Nomination Schedule form, signing it in front of a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor, and sending it to us by noon on Friday 18 September.

After you’ve withdrawn your bulk nomination, you can submit another one. You must submit your new bulk nomination schedule by noon on Thursday 17 September.

A candidate can withdraw from a bulk nomination

A candidate can withdraw from your bulk nomination by completing a Withdrawal of Nomination from Bulk Nomination form. The candidate must sign the form in front of a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor, and send it to us by noon on Friday 18 September.

If a candidate withdraws, you can nominate another one. You must send us the new candidate’s details, consent form, and deposit by noon on Friday 18 September.

You can withdraw your party list

Withdraw your party list by completing a Withdrawal of Party List form in front of a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor, and sending it to us by noon on Friday 18 September.

After you’ve withdrawn your party list, you can submit another one. You must submit your new party list by noon on Thursday 17 September.

Contact us urgently if a candidate dies or is incapacitated

Contact us urgently if a candidate dies or is seriously incapacitated before nomination day, or between nomination day and the day we declare the official result. We’ll talk you through what to do next.

You may apply to cancel a candidate’s nomination if they become seriously incapacitated. Use our form for cancelling a candidate nomination because of incapacity, and get a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor to witness it. Also include a medical certificate for the candidate’s condition.

We’ll brief your candidates about their responsibilities

Your electorate candidates’ Returning Officers will brief them about how the election will work, the nomination process, and their responsibilities as candidates.

We’ll release some of your candidates’ information to the public

Once we’ve processed all the nominations and party lists, we’ll publish the names of all candidates on our website:

www.vote.nz

We don’t publish biographical information, policies, phone numbers or email addresses.

People who are enrolled to vote in the electorate can visit their returning officer and see the individual nomination forms for candidates in that electorate.

Any registered elector can inspect lodged bulk nomination and consent forms at the Wellington office of the Electoral Commission.

Tell us if you don’t want us to give your candidates’ contact details to the media.

The media often ask us for candidates’ contact details such as a telephone number and email. If the media asks for one of your candidate’s contact details, we’ll release them unless you or the candidate has told us in advance not to release them.

Don’t include candidates’ residential addresses if they’re on the unpublished roll.

Registered electors can inspect bulk nomination schedules and consent forms at our offices. The Commission will not make any address information available for inspection for candidates on the unpublished roll.

Electorate candidates appear alphabetically on the ballot paper

The names of the electorate candidates appear alphabetically by surname on the right-hand side of the ballot paper. Your party’s name will appear under your candidates’ names. If your party has a registered logo, the logo will appear to the right of your candidates’ names.

If your party is contesting the party vote, we’ll print the name of your party opposite your candidates’ names on the left-hand side of the ballot paper.

We list parties that are only contesting the party vote alphabetically on the left-hand side of the ballot paper, after the parties that are also contesting the electorate vote.

Your candidates can appoint scrutineers

If you’re an electorate candidate, you can appoint scrutineers.

Scrutineers oversee the conduct of the election

Candidates usually appoint scrutineers. If there’s no electorate candidate standing for your party in a district, you can appoint scrutineers for the district.

Scrutineers can observe:

  • the issuing of votes in voting places, including advance voting places
  • the preliminary count after 7pm on election night
  • the early count of advance votes
  • the checking of special vote declarations 
  • the scrutiny of the rolls and the official count
  • any judicial recounts of electorate votes.

If you or your candidates intend to appoint scrutineers to attend voting places to observe voting you should let us know the number of scrutineers and the voting places they will be attending in advance as the presence of scrutineers at voting places needs to be managed within the physical distancing requirements to keep everyone safe. You were advised of draft voting place locations in mid-June. We may need to limit the number of scrutineers at some voting places during voting hours for safety reasons and then have scrutineers present for the preliminary count.

There are no scrutineers appointed for the referendum counts. These will be overseen by Justices of the Peace during the official count.

We have a guide for appointing scrutineers

Your candidates can download our scrutineer handbook from our website.

The handbook tells candidates how to appoint scrutineers, has the declaration of secrecy that scrutineers need to sign, and includes all the rules scrutineers need to follow.

For 2020, there will be a centralised count of overseas votes at the Electoral Commission’s overseas vote processing centre in Wellington. The Commission will work with you to coordinate the appointment of 1 – 2 scrutineers to represent all of your candidates.

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