The Independent Electoral Review was established in 2022 to consider how to make New Zealand’s electoral system more clear, fair, and accessible. VFF HQ made oral submissions, and we provided a resource to members to make their own submissions.
On 6 June 2023, the independent group released an interim report. It presents key findings from the first stage of public engagement and makes more than 100 draft recommendations. The interim report supports a second stage of engagement on the review that has been running from the 6th of June to Monday the 17th of July 2023.
As per usual, the language in these documents reflects the culture of the Wellington bureaucratic elite, with references to ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’. The Chair of the Independent Electoral Review Panel is Deborah Hart, a long-time government consultant. You can read the background of the other members of the panel here – HYPERLINK
The six key themes of the Interim Report, as stated by the panel, are:
- making our electoral law fit for the future
- improving MMP
- a referendum on the parliamentary term
- supporting more New Zealanders to vote
- fairer rules for political financing and campaigning
- upholding te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi.
The full report (338 pages) can be read here.
Recommendations You Should Know About
- R4. Requiring decision-makers to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles when exercising functions and powers under the Electoral Act. This obligation should apply generally across the Act and be explicitly included in the Electoral Commission’s statutory objectives.
- R6. Lowering the party vote threshold for list seat eligibility from five per cent of the nationwide party vote to 3.5 per cent – this is one of the few good points included.
- R7. Abolishing the one-electorate seat threshold, provided the party vote threshold is lowered.
- R9. Fixing the ratio of electorate seats to list seats at 60:40, requiring parliament to be an uneven number, and allowing the size of parliament to grow in line with the population – just how big is our population going to go?
- R13. Removing mental incapacity as a ground to remove a Member of Parliament.
- R17. Lowering the voting age to 16.
- R22. Granting all prisoners the right to vote.
- R40. Enabling the preliminary count to be conducted electronically.
- R72. Requiring the board of the Electoral Commission to have a balance of skills, knowledge, attributes, experience and expertise in te Tiriti o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi, te ao Māori and tikanga Māori – effectively forcing diversity on the electoral commission board.
- R78. Removing the ability for scrutineers to access marked copies of the electoral rolls, which show who has voted during the voting period and to share this information with political parties and candidates.
- R96. Extending the timeframe for the offence of knowingly publishing false information to influence voters to include the entire advance voting period and polling day.
- R97. That the overhaul and consolidation of the offences and penalties regime for electoral law (recommended above) specifically considers the scope of the undue influence offence and whether it should be expanded to include disinformation methods and mechanisms.
There are three options available to respond and impact what happens with this report:
- Complete the online survey – the 20-page survey includes the ten key themes with the opportunity to respond yes/no/don’t know. There are also text options.
- Download the online survey form and e-mail it to [email protected]
- Make your own written submission and e-mail it to [email protected]
There is also a postal option. Send to: Independent Electoral Review Free Post 113, PO Box 180, Wellington 6140.