Third Party handbook for the 2020 General Election

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

It's a criminal offence to do anything that could be seen as encouraging or persuading 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, referendum options, emblems, slogans or logos. The full lists of restricted activities are in sections 197 and 197A of the Electoral Act.

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. Returning Officers can remove or cover advertising that breaches the rules.

Party lapel badges or rosettes

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

The badge can show the party's name, emblem, slogan or logo. It can’t show a candidate’s name or website. A party lapel badge should be authorised by the party secretary and include a promoter statement. 

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

Party colours

Anyone can display streamers, ribbons and similar items in party colours within 10 metres of advance voting places and on election day if:

  • they are on people or vehicles, and
  • they don’t show party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos.

Party supporters 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, parties, or the referendum

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

You can contact voters on election day if it doesn’t influence their vote

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

We recommend you read off a script so you don’t say anything that breaks the law. Keep candidates, parties and the referendum out of your script. That way there's no suggestion you're trying to promote a candidate, party or referendum option 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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

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