About election advertising

This page summarises the election advertising rules for the 2020 General Election. There are spending limits for election advertising published during the 2-month regulated period, which runs from 18 August until 16 October.

Candidates, parties and third party promoters must follow  these rules. Our election handbooks explain these rules in detail.

Read the candidate handbook
Read the party secretary handbook
Read the third party handbook

See also: about referendum advertising

What is election advertising?

An ‘election advertisement’ is an advertisement in any medium 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.

What is not election advertising?

Election advertising doesn’t include:

  • editorial content (for example, news items)
  • unpaid individuals expressing their personal political views online (for example, tweeting about which party you support).
  • an MP’s contact details.

Every election advertisement needs a promoter statement

All election advertisements must include a promoter statement. This rule 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 wording promoter statements like this:

Promoted or authorised by [promoter’s name], [promoter’s full street address].

If the promoter is unregistered and is a group or organisation, the promoter statement should also include the name of a person who is authorised to represent it.

Promoter statements must be clearly displayed in election advertisements. For audible election advertisements, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Not including a promoter statement is an offence

Not including a promoter statement is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to $40,000.

Spending more than $13,600 means you need to register

If you put out advertising about a candidate, party or election issue, but are not a candidate or party yourself, you're a third party promoter. You’ll need to register with us if you spend, or intend to spend, over $13,600 on election advertising published during the regulated period.

Read the Register of Promoters

Third parties need permission to promote candidates and parties

As a third party promoter, you must get written authorisation from a party secretary or candidate before they can promote that party or candidate in your advertising.If your advertisement promotes more than one party or candidate, you need written authorisation from each party secretary or candidate.

There are limits to spending on advertising

Different groups have different limits to what they can spend on election advertising published during the regulated period.

  • Candidates can spend up to $28,200
  • Registered political parties can spend up to $1,199,000 if they contest the party vote plus $28,200 for each electorate candidate for the party
  • Registered third party promoters can spend up to $338,000
  • Unregistered third party promoters can spend up to $13,600

Costs that count towards the spending limits include all publication, design, distribution, and paid labour costs associated with preparing advertising.

Candidates, parties and promoters that spend over $100,000 must file an expense return

After election day, all candidates and parties must file an expense return to tell us what they spent on advertising published during the regulated period. Third party promoters only need to file a return if they spent more than $100,000 on election advertising published during the regulated period.

The deadline for expense returns is 17 February 2021 for candidates and third party promoters and 17 March 2021 for registered parties. We’ll make all expense returns public on elections.nz.

Tell us if someone’s breaking the rules

Contact us if you believe someone is breaking the election advertising rules for promoter statements, authorisation of advertising or electoral finances.

Learn more about making a complaint

Different rules apply once voting starts

Different rules apply once voting starts, and on election day (17 October 2020).

Read the rules for once voting starts and on election day

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