Justice Minister Kris Faafoi announced that the government will review New Zealand’s electoral laws to ensure the rules remain fit for purpose and meet the needs of the next generation of voters.
“Although we have a world-class electoral system, times are changing and electoral law must continue to evolve with them.
“A lot has changed since the 1950s, but not most of our electoral rules. We want to make the electoral rules clearer and fairer to build confidence in the system and better help people exercise their right to vote, ”said Kris Faafoi.
“The electoral law has been subject to adjustment for the most part on an ad hoc basis over the years. We now have the opportunity to take an in-depth look at how we run our elections.
“We will be working with parties across Parliament on broad, non-partisan support for any change and I have written to other party leaders to express that intention.”
The government is taking two approaches; an independent review of New Zealand’s electoral law and targeted changes to support the conduct and turnout in the 2023 general election.
Independent review of electoral laws
The independent review will look at electoral rules such as:
- voting age and voting abroad
- financing of political parties
- the duration of the legislature
- the recommendations of the Electoral Commission on the RPM:
- changes in the party voting threshold
- one-seat electorate rule
- ratio of electorate seats to list seats
- the rule of overhang
The independent review will not examine:
- online voting
- a return to First Past the Post or alternatives to New Zealand’s MMP system
- the future of Maori electorate seats
- local electoral law
- fundamental constitutional change; like becoming a republic or having an upper house
“This is an opportunity to make important changes in the conduct of elections for this generation and the next so that:
- voters can continue to participate easily in elections
- the Election Commission can continue to organize the elections efficiently
- political parties and others have clear rules to follow and are held to account if those rules are broken.
“The next step in the independent review is to form a review committee. The panel will report by the end of 2023 with recommendations for change, ”said Kris Faafoi.
“I will consult with all parliamentary party leaders and Parliament’s justice committee on the terms of reference for the review before they are finalized. I also write to these and other groups, such as Maori organizations, youth organizations, universities and the New Zealand Law Society, to seek nominations for potential panel members.
“Some rules could be improved before the general election in 2023. For example, we are looking to improve the transparency of political donations to make it easier to see where the money is coming from.
“Another objective is to determine when people can move from the Maori voters list to the general list. At this time, Maori voters will not be able to move the lists until the 2023 general election.
“This work is a commitment signaled in the 2020 Labor Manifesto to protect the integrity of the New Zealand elections, and it is also part of the cooperation agreement between the New Zealand Labor Party and the Aotearoa Green Party.
“We are looking to move the work forward before the end of the year.