Annual Report 2006
The Annual Report of the Electoral Commission, Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri, for the year ended 30 June 2006 was tabled in the House of Representatives on 21 November 2006. The key points section of the report follows, while the full report is available for download as a .pdf under under Downloads to the right.
All election generated obligations were delivered, with no complaint received concerning any aspect of the commission’s performance of these. Commission expertise is being increasingly sought out by international and domestic bodies.
Registered political parties and logos
Registered political parties were generally lax in meeting deadlines for the filing of statutory returns with the commission, thus compromising the transparency intended by the Electoral Act and potentially public trust. New incentives are needed to encourage compliance. One referral of a party to the police for apparent over-spending of its election expense limit was not pursued due to a lack of evidence to indicate that an offence had been committed by the party secretary.
Promotion of public awareness of electoral matters
Filling knowledge gaps concerning electoral participation by Māori, trialling the use of direct marketing techniques to improve new-voter turnout, and the development of seven research reports or resources emphasised the commission’s commitment to ensure its own policy and programmes and those of others have a sound research foundation.
Strategic citizenship and electoral education initiatives helped build new frameworks and programmes in the compulsory school sector, local government, and journalism. The general election context was used tactically in education delivered to teachers and students, journalists, and community groups.
A steady flow of international contacts and invitations underlined strong interest in both New Zealand’s electoral system and the work of the commission. Growing Pacific contacts are helping build an understanding of dynamics which may impact on the electoral participation of pacific New Zealanders.
Allocation of election broadcasting time and funds
The allocation of $3.212 million of state funding and 102 minutes of party address time on television and radio was finalised to support registered political parties’ election campaigning. The funding was paid out. Just a third of 67 broadcasters’ returns received came in by the due date. Four referrals were made to the New Zealand Police of suspected offences under the Broadcasting Act, leading to one prosecution and conviction.
Provision of advice on electoral matters
Election campaign issues relating to advertising, funding, and third party activity highlighted inconsistencies and inadequacies of electoral law, some of which have been raised previously by the commission and others. Different models of state funding, a rewrite of campaigning rules, and electoral administration structure all need to be considered in a principles-based review considering factors such as equality of access to the electoral process, public information and transparency, ease of compliance and enforcement, international standards of democratic practice, and the New Zealand contexts of MMP and public management.
Publicity in connection with the next general election
The public information and education campaign for the 2005 general election exceeded its advertising targets while coming in under budget. The Elections New Zealand website was an important tool in the programme. Low MMP-related 0800 calls pointed to voter information needs being satisfied by other campaign elements. The three electoral agencies have established joint projects working towards the 2008 general election to: improve access to voting for disabled people, encourage young people to enrol using the internet and then go on to cast an informed vote, and to encourage teachers to use authentic election contests in the classroom and school life.