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Electoral Commission accepts Auditor-General’s report

May 7, 2024 | Media release

The Electoral Commission welcomes the findings of the Auditor-General’s review of quality assurance processes for counting votes at the 2023 General Election. 

The Office of the Auditor-General’s report has been presented to Parliament and published on the Office of the Auditor-General’s website.

The Electoral Commission sought a review after errors were found in the 2023 General Election official results. The errors were corrected, and the results republished on 9 November 2023. During the Auditor-General’s review it was also identified that some possible dual votes were included in the official results.  

“None of these errors would have affected the outcome in an electorate or for the party vote,” says Karl Le Quesne, Chief Electoral Officer.

“There will always be errors in a predominantly manual process and we need to make sure our processes and controls pick them up effectively.

“These were errors made by people under pressure. While the errors were too small to affect the results, we deeply regret they occurred. Our priority is improving the systems and controls we have in place and continuing to deliver elections with integrity,” says Karl Le Quesne.

The Auditor-General found that there is room to strengthen the way votes are recorded, counted and checked. Recommendations include reviewing all vote counting and quality control checks and updating standard operations manuals and instructions on quality control activities.

“We thank the Auditor-General for the thorough review and welcome the recommendations, which will be fully implemented,” says Karl Le Quesne.

Work already underway includes:

  • a comprehensive internal review of the delivery of the 2023 General Election and post-election period
  • adopting a new assurance framework
  • audits of post-election and enrolment processes to identify any further gaps or improvements
  • reviewing operating manuals and training to improve the implementation of quality assurance controls during delivery of elections
  • prioritising improvements to post-election processes to improve the integrity and timeliness of the official count
  • approving short-term changes to strengthen the official count process for any by-election required before a full review of post-election processes is completed.

“The Board of the Electoral Commission will closely monitor and report on the delivery of these and other improvements to ensure New Zealanders can continue to have trust in the delivery of elections,” says Dame Marie Shroff, Board Chair.

“The Board is committed to seeing this process through and strengthening the quality assurance processes in place for the 2026 General Election,” says Dame Marie.

Frequently asked questions

What were the errors in the official results?

The official results of the 2023 General Election were amended on 9 November 2023 to reflect a small number of data entry errors and to include votes from a ballot box that had not been counted during the official count. There were no changes to the overall results, successful candidates or allocation of seats. More information is available on our website.

The Auditor-General decided to undertake a review to provide an independent assessment of the Commission’s quality assurance processes for the count of votes.

What are the possible dual votes that were identified during the review?

A dual vote is where a voter appears to have voted more than once.  An investigation is undertaken to determine whether it is a clerical error, for example, an incorrect marking of the roll, or a suspected case of dual voting.

The Electoral Commission has identified that there were cases where possible dual votes (known as apparent dual votes) that hadn’t been fully investigated were included in the official results. This does not mean they were dual votes, but that they could have been.

Our enquiries have shown that these votes would not have impacted the outcomes in any electorate or for the party vote.

How many errors were found?

The errors involved a small fraction of the almost 2.9m votes cast at the 2023 election. They did not make a difference to the outcome in any electorate or to the allocation of seats in Parliament.

The errors which were corrected after the election on 9 November increased party votes by 693 and candidate votes by 708. Most of these were from the ballot box that had not been counted (620).

  • Three voting places had misallocated party votes to the wrong parties during data entry.
  • 15 voting places had similar data entry errors for candidate votes.
  • One electorate had special votes entered incorrectly.
  • Data for five voting places had been entered as election day votes rather than advance votes. This did not affect the total numbers of votes for parties or candidates.
  • One electorate had missed counting the votes in a ballot box during the official count.

The number of possible dual votes that could have impacted candidate counts is 321 votes across 40 electorates. The number that may have impacted the party vote count is a maximum of 569.

These were errors made by people under pressure. A 46% increase in people enrolling during the voting period, and the large volume of special votes (600,000), placed significant pressure on our people and post-election processes.


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