Electoral Commission (New Zealand)

Electoral Commission (New Zealand)

The Electoral Commission of New Zealand is a governmental body responsible for administering certain aspects of the country's electoral system.

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

The four primary functions of the Electoral Commission are:

  • Registration of political parties. The Commission is 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 be 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 is 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 supervises this process.
  • Public education. The Commission is the primary body charged with ensuring strong public awareness of how elections in New Zealand work.

For most business, the Electoral Commission consists 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.

The current President is Hon. Sir Hugh Williams, KNZM QC, who was appointed in 9 November 2009 for a term of two years.

External links

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