There are limits on what you can do during voting periods for general elections and by-elections. These apply to everyone, including candidates, parties, promoters, the media, and members of the public.
It's a criminal offence to do anything that can influence voters:
- on election day
- in an advance voting place
- within 10 metres of an advance voting place.
This includes public statements, processions, and speeches, as well as displaying candidate and party names, emblems, slogans or logos. Sections 197 and 197A of the Electoral Act have the full lists of restricted activities.
Remove or cover all your election advertising that’s visible from a public place before election day. Returning Officers can remove or cover advertising that breaches the rules.
Wearing party lapel badges and rosettes
Party supporters and scrutineers can wear party badges or rosettes on their lapels at any time, including inside voting places and on election day.
Your badges can show a party's name, emblem, slogan or logo. They cannot show a candidate’s name or website. Include a promoter statement on your badges because they’re likely to be an election advertisement.
Do not display your lapel badges in other places such as on vehicles.
Showing and wearing party colours
You 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
- do not show party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos.
You can also wear clothes in party colours if they do not show party or candidate names, emblems, slogans or logos.
Delivering election material
You must not deliver election material through the post or direct to mailboxes on election day.
To avoid breaches, New Zealand Post stops accepting election material for delivery nine days before an election. Clearly mark any election-related mail you send so New Zealand Post knows not to deliver it on election day.
Be careful about hand-delivering election material to mailboxes on the day before election day. If a voter does not 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.
Handing out items
Think carefully before you give out items that promote a candidate or party, such as bumper stickers, t-shirts and flags. Once you've given the items out, your supporters could unintentionally break the law by displaying them on election day or near an advance voting place.
On election day, do not print or give out anything that mentions any candidates or parties.
Imitating ballot papers
It's illegal to imitate ballot papers from midnight on the Tuesday before the election to the end of election day. Do not print or share anything that’s likely to influence voters and:
- looks like a ballot paper
- looks like part of a ballot paper
- lists candidates or parties.
Contacting voters on election day
You can contact voters on election day to remind them to vote or offer to help them get to a voting place. Do not say or do anything to influence their vote.
We recommend you read off a script so you do not say anything that’ll break the law. Keep candidate and party names out of your script. That way there's no suggestion you're trying to promote a candidate or party. If you're calling voters, you can say whether you're ringing on behalf of a promoter or party.
You can contact us to get our opinion on whether your script follows the rules for election day:
Websites and social media on election day
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 material on your website or social media page so long as:
- you published it before election day
- it's only available to people who voluntarily access it
- you do not publish advertisements promoting the page or site on election day.
If you're a candidate, party, or promoter, 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-related material.
You can remind people to vote
It's okay to remind people to go vote, or show that you’ve voted, on election day. For example, you can use filters or frames on social media saying you’ve voted or post a photograph with your "I have voted" sticker.
Do not post anything that encourages voters to vote, or not vote, for candidates or parties. We recommend you do not use profile pictures or frames that support a candidate or party.
Taking down your signs and posters
Take down your election signs and posters before election day. This includes signs and graphics on vehicles, and bumper stickers.
If you have any signs or posters within 10 metres of what will be an advance voting place, take them down before advance voting starts.
Members of Parliament can keep signs on their office
Members of Parliament (MPs) can keep fixed signs that do not refer to the election on their out-of-Parliament office.
Parties can keep signs on their headquarters
Parties can keep statements, party names, logos, slogans and emblems on their headquarters on election day if they do not refer specifically to the election campaign.
This exception does not apply to a mobile headquarters such as caravans or camper vans.
When you're in a voting place
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.
Filming and photography at voting places
If you're a member of the public, you cannot film or take photos, including selfies, at voting places. Wait until you're outside the voting place to take a photo with your "I have voted" sticker.
Candidates and media can get permission to film and photograph
If you're a candidate or media organisation, you can film and take photos at a voting place if you have permission from the Returning Officer. Candidates can get permission to have someone to film or photograph them voting. Media organisations can get permission to film or take photos for news coverage.
Contact us before the voting period to get permission.
If the Returning Officer gives you permission, you must agree to not:
- disrupt the voting place with your filming or photography
- photograph or film voters completing their ballot papers
- give or conduct interviews in or near the voting place.
Publishing and broadcasting on election day
Media cannot publish or broadcast anything that could influence voters on election day until after voting closes at 7pm. If you publish a newspaper after 6pm on the day before election day, it counts as publishing it on election day.
You could still influence voters even if:
- your item is balanced (for example, it looks at the pros and cons of an issue that featured in the election campaign)
- you do not mention the name of a party or candidate
- you give all candidates or parties equal coverage.
For example, you would break election day rules if you ran an item that:
- showed a candidate at an election-related demonstration
- commented on a candidate’s likelihood of winning an electorate seat
- commented on each party’s likelihood of passing the 5% party vote threshold.
You can broadcast and publish news about an election
You can broadcast and publish news about an election if it's unlikely to influence voters. For example, your news item may:
- note that the election is taking place
- note when results will be available
- mention party and candidate names
- have footage or pictures of party leaders casting their votes.
Take care with any item that features candidates or parties. If you have any doubts, delay publishing or broadcasting until voting closes at 7pm.