Party Secretary handbook

This section explains what happens after the election including reporting your expenses, getting nomination deposits back, recounts and input into the parliamentary review of the election.

Report your party’s expenses to us

You must report your party’s election expenses to us.

If we gave your party a broadcasting allocation, you must also report your party’s broadcasting allocation expenses.

Send us your election expense return by 17 March 2021

You must send us a return of your party’s expenses within 90 working days of election day - by 17 March 2021. Use the Return of Party  Expenses form to make your return. You can contact us to get the form.

Include an auditor’s report with your party’s expense return

You must include an auditor’s report with your party’s expense return. Sections 206L and 206LA of the Electoral Act set out the full requirements for audits of your party’s expenses.

The auditor must assess and report on whether your party’s election expenses and associated record keeping have been legal. The auditor must also report on whether they got all the information they needed to form an opinion.

You must use a qualified auditor

Your party’s auditor must be qualified under section 36(1) of the Financial Reporting Act 2013. The auditor can only be a body corporate if it’s a registered audit firm.

Your party’s auditor can’t be any of the following:

  • a candidate
  • a candidate’s partner or employee
  • an officer or employee of your party. 

Your party must properly appoint its auditor and tell us who the auditor is.

The auditor must audit all your party’s expenses, not just a sample. The Electoral Act gives auditors powers to access your party’s records and to require information and explanations from you as party secretary.

We recommend using a representation letter

We recommend using a representation letter in the final stages of the audit. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand also recommend this. We will provide you with a template representation letter.

The auditor may give a qualified opinion if they don’t have enough information

If the auditor doesn’t have enough information to reach an unqualified opinion, they may give a qualified opinion, an adverse opinion, or a disclaimer of opinion under the suitable auditing and assurance standards.

We can reject your party’s report if it doesn’t meet the requirements

We can reject your party’s report if it doesn’t meet the requirements of sections 206L and 206LA of the Electoral Act. If we reject a report, you must get a new one that meets the requirements.

We won’t accept any of the following excuses for not sending us an audit report that meets all the requirements:

  • the cost or time involved in the audit
  • not being able to find or access relevant documents
  • alleged autonomy of organisations in your party.

Send us a return even if you don’t have any expenses

If your party doesn’t have any election expenses to report, you still need to complete and send a return form with an auditor’s report. The form will tell you how to show your party has no expenses.

Send us your referendum expense return by 17 February 2021

If your party spent over $100,000 on referendum advertising in respect of either referendum, you must also report your party’s referendum expenses. You must send us a return of your party’s referendum expenses within 70 working days of election day- by 17 February 2021. Use the Return of Referendum Expenses form to make your return. You can contact us to get the form.

The form will guide you through the expense returns process

The return form includes detailed advice about how to complete your return and send it to us.

We’ll release your party’s expense return to the public 

We’ll publish your party’s return on our website. Members of the public can also visit us to view the return forms.

You may be able to get your nomination deposits back

We may be able refund your $1,000 nomination deposit for your party list and your $300 nomination deposits for each of the candidates in your party’s bulk nomination.

Your party must get at least 0.5 percent of the party vote or an electorate seat

We can only pay your $1,000 deposit back if your party wins either:

  • at least 0.5 percent of the party vote
  • at least one electorate seat. 

We’ll pay the deposit back once we have your party’s audited return of election expenses.

Candidates on your bulk nomination schedule must get at least 5 percent of the vote

If a candidate on your bulk nomination schedule wins at least 5 percent of the votes in the electorate they contested, we’ll refund the $300 deposit you paid for their nomination.

We must get all your candidates’ expense and donation returns before we can refund any of the $300 bulk nomination deposits.

You can apply for a recount or challenge a result

As party secretary, you can apply for a recount of the party vote or challenge the election of list candidates.

Only an electorate candidate can apply for a recount of the electorate vote or challenge a result in the electorate they contested.

Apply to a District Court Judge for a judicial recount

You can apply to a District Court Judge for a recount of the party vote in any particular electorate or to the Chief District Court Judge for a nationwide party vote recount. 

You must apply within 3 working days of us declaring the official election results – by Wednesday 11 November. Include a deposit of $1,533.33 (including GST) with each application. For a nationwide party vote recount, you must include a deposit of $92,000 (including GST).

The judge must start the recount within 3 working days of getting your application. They’ll tell the other candidates and parties when and where the recount will take place.

If the judge finds the official count was wrong, we’ll change the final result.

File an election petition to challenge a result

An election petition is the only way you can challenge the allocation of party seats.

You must file your petition before the Court of Appeal within 28 days of us declaring the official election results – by Friday 4 December. Three Court of Appeal Judges will hear the petition. You can find out more in the Court of Appeal (List Election Petitions) Rules 1998:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/1998/0326/latest/DLM263363.html

Only an elector or electorate candidate can challenge the election of an electorate candidate to the High Court. You can find out more in the Constituency Election Petition Rules 2008:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2008/0383/latest/DLM1647201.html

You can have your say on election law

After the election, the Justice Select Committee will usually conduct an inquiry into the election. The inquiry will let you share your thoughts on election laws and administration with the select committee.

You can read more about the Committee on the Parliament website:

www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/scl/justice/

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