Electoral Commission (New Zealand)

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New Zealand Electoral Commission
Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri
New Zealand Electoral Commission Logo.jpg
Agency overview
Formed 1 October 2010
Preceding agencies Electoral Commission
Chief Electoral Office
Electoral Enrolment Centre
Jurisdiction New Zealand
Headquarters Wellington
Agency executives Hon Sir Hugh Williams KNZM QC, Chair
Jane Huria CNZM,
Deputy Chair
Robert Peden,
Chief Electoral Officer
Website www.elections.org.nz

The New Zealand Electoral Commission is an independent crown entity responsible for the administration of parliamentary elections and referenda, promoting compliance with electoral laws, servicing the work of the Representation Commission, and the provision of advice, reports and public education on electoral matters. The Commission also assists electoral agencies of other countries on a reciprocal basis with their electoral events.

Objective of the Electoral Commission[edit]

The Electoral Act defines the objective of the Electoral Commission as

“to administer the electoral system impartially, efficiently, effectively, and in a way that –

  1. Facilitates participation in parliamentary democracy; and
  2. Promotes understanding of the electoral system; and
  3. Maintains confidence in the administration of the electoral system.”[1]

Functions of the Electoral Commission[edit]

Orange Guy, mascot of the Electoral Commission

The functions of the Electoral Commission are defined by law and in summary comprise-

  • Preparation and conduct of General Elections, by-elections, and referenda
  • Allocating government monies to registered political parties for radio and television broadcasting
  • Promoting public awareness of electoral matters through education and information programmes
  • Advice to the Minister and the House of Representatives on electoral matters referred to the Commission
  • Making available information to assist political parties, candidates, and third parties to meet their statutory obligations in respect of electoral matters administered by the Commission
  • Compiling and maintaining electoral rolls (from 1 July 2012).

Independence[edit]

The Electoral Commission is an independent Crown entity. The responsible Minister may not direct the Commission to give effect to, or have regard to, government policy.

In addition:

  • the Governor-General appoints and removes Electoral Commissioners on the recommendation of the House of Representatives
  • the Electoral Commission has a statutory duty to act independently in performing its statutory duties and functions and exercising its powers
  • the Electoral Commission may provide information and advice to the Minister of Justice or the House of Representatives at any time and of its own volition.

Electoral Commission Board[edit]

The Electoral Commission Board has three members, appointed by the Governor-General, including one member as the Chairperson, one member as the Deputy Chairperson and the Chief Electoral Officer, who is the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission.

Commissioner Position Appointed Finished
Hon Sir Hugh Williams KNZM QC Chair August 2010 Present
Robert Peden Chief Electoral Officer August 2010 Present
Jane Huria CNZM Deputy Chair July 2011 Present

Electoral Events Conducted by the Electoral Commission[edit]

Electoral Event Date
Mana by-election Saturday, 20 November 2010
Botany by-election Saturday, 5 March 2011
Te Tai Tokerau by-election Saturday, 25 June 2011
General Election Saturday, 26 November 2011
Referendum on the Voting System Saturday, 26 November 2011
MMP Review 29 October 2012
Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election Saturday, 29 June 2013

History[edit]

Formation of the Electoral Commission[edit]

The Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill, passed unanimously by Parliament 19 May 2010, established a new independent Electoral Commission which was given overarching responsibility to administer elections.

The Electoral Commission, which took over the responsibilities of the Chief Electoral Office and the previous Electoral Commission, was formed on Friday 1 October 2010.

On 1 July 2012 the statutory responsibilities of the Electoral Enrolment Centre of NZ Post will be transferred to the Commission in accordance with the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Act 2011.

Previous Electoral Commission[edit]

The previous Electoral Commission of New Zealand (1993–2010) was a governmental body responsible for administering certain aspects of the country's electoral system.

It was an independent Crown entity, not part of any larger department or Ministry, and was established under the Electoral Act 1993. It worked alongside two other bodies, the Chief Electoral Office and the Electoral Enrolment Centre.

The four primary functions of the previous Electoral Commission were:

  • Registration of political parties. The Commission was responsible for scrutinising and approving all changes to the electoral register. A place on the register allows parties to contest the party vote in general elections. Unregistered parties can put forward individual candidates, but cannot receive votes for proportional representation under the MMP system. The Commission must have been satisfied that such a party meets the requirements for registration, such as having five hundred financial members.
  • Allocating broadcasting funding. Political parties are given state funding for any broadcasting they conduct in an election campaign. The Commission was responsible for dividing money between the various parties, taking into account a party's membership, current number of MPs, previous election performance, and current polling. The Commission also supervises the actual payment of this funding.
  • Supervision of financial declarations. to ensure transparency, parties are required to submit records showing how much money they received as donations and how much money they spent campaigning. The Commission supervised this process.
  • Public education. The Commission was the primary body charged with ensuring strong public awareness of how elections in New Zealand work.

For most business, the previous Electoral Commission consisted of four members — a President, a Chief Executive, the head of the Ministry of Justice, and the Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court. Formerly, two additional members, one appointed by the Government and one by the Opposition, participated in the allocation of broadcasting funds. This participation is generally condemned by smaller parties, which claimed that Labour and National unfairly monopolised funding. These additional members were removed in 2007 by the Electoral Finance Act.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Electoral Act 1993". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 

External links[edit]