Electoral Commission (New Zealand)

Last updated
Electoral Commission
Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri
New Zealand Electoral Commission Logo.jpg
Agency overview
Formed1 October 2010
Preceding agencies
  • Electoral Commission
  • Chief Electoral Office
  • Electoral Enrolment Centre
JurisdictionNew Zealand
Agency executives
  • Hon Sir Hugh Williams KNZM QC, Chair
  • Currently vacant,
    Deputy Chair
  • Alicia Wright,
    Chief Electoral Officer
Website vote.nz elections.nz

The Electoral Commission (Māori : Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri) is an independent Crown entity set up by the New Zealand Parliament. It is 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

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

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

Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealandportal


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:

Electoral Commission Board

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.

Hon Sir Hugh Williams KNZM QC ChairAugust 2010Present
Alicia WrightChief Electoral OfficerJanuary 2017Present
Currently vacantDeputy Chair--

Electoral events conducted by the Electoral Commission

Electoral EventDate
Mana by-election Saturday, 20 November 2010
Botany by-election Saturday, 5 March 2011
Te Tai Tokerau by-election Saturday, 25 June 2011
2011 general election Saturday, 26 November 2011
Referendum on the voting system Saturday, 26 November 2011
MMP Review February – October 2012
Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election Saturday, 29 June 2013
2013 New Zealand local elections 12 October 2016
Christchurch East by-election Saturday, 30 November 2013
Asset sales referendum 22 November – 13 December 2013
2014 general election Saturday, 20 September 2014
Northland by-election Saturday, 28 March 2015
First New Zealand flag referendum 20 November – 11 December 2015
Second New Zealand flag referendum 3–24 March 2016
2016 New Zealand local elections 8 October 2016
Mount Roskill by-election Saturday, 3 December 2016
Mount Albert by-election Saturday, 25 February 2017
2017 general election Saturday, 23 September 2017
Northcote by-election Saturday, 9 June 2018


Formation of the Electoral Commission

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 New Zealand Post were transferred to the Commission in accordance with the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Act 2011.

Previous Electoral Commission

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:

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.

Two additional members, one appointed by the Government and one by the Opposition, participate in the commission e.g. on the allocation of broadcasting funds. This participation is generally condemned by smaller parties, which claim that Labour and National unfairly monopolised funding. These additional members were removed by Labour in 2007 by the Electoral Finance Act; but the Act was repealed by National in 2009, with clauses of the EFA dealing with donation disclosure inserted into the 1993 Electoral Act.

Related Research Articles

Mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation is a mixed electoral system in which voters get two votes: one to decide the representative for their single-seat constituency, and one for a political party. Seats in the legislature are filled firstly by the successful constituency candidates, and secondly, by party candidates based on the percentage of nationwide or region-wide votes that each party received. The constituency representatives are elected using first-past-the-post voting (FPTP) or another plurality/majoritarian system. The nationwide or region-wide party representatives are, in most jurisdictions, drawn from published party lists, similar to party-list proportional representation. To gain a nationwide representative, parties may be required to achieve a minimum number of constituency candidates, a minimum percentage of the nationwide party vote, or both.

Electoral reform in New Zealand

Electoral reform in New Zealand has, in recent years, become a political issue as major changes have been made to both parliamentary and local government electoral systems.

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, commonly known as Elections Canada, is the non-partisan agency responsible for administering Canadian federal elections and referendums. Elections Canada is an office of the Parliament of Canada, and reports directly to Parliament rather than to the Government of Canada.

Elections in New Zealand Political elections for public offices in New Zealand

New Zealand is a representative democracy. Members of the unicameral New Zealand Parliament gain their seats through nationwide general elections, or in by-elections. General elections are usually held every three years; they may be held at an earlier date at the discretion of the prime minister, although it usually only happens in the event of a vote of no confidence or other exceptional circumstances. A by-election is held to fill a vacancy arising during a parliamentary term. The most recent general election took place on 23 September 2017.

1996 New Zealand general election Election on 12 October 1996

The 1996 New Zealand general election was held on 12 October 1996 to determine the composition of the 45th New Zealand Parliament. It was notable for being the first election to be held under the new mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system, and produced a parliament considerably more diverse than previous elections. It saw the National Party, led by Jim Bolger, retain its position in government, but only after protracted negotiations with the smaller New Zealand First party to form a coalition. New Zealand First's position as "kingmaker", able to place either of the two major parties into government, was a significant election outcome.

Treasurer of Australia Australian government minister in charge of economic policy

The Treasurer of Australia is the minister in the Government of Australia responsible for government expenditure and revenue raising. The Treasurer plays a key role in the economic policy of the government. The current holder of the position is Josh Frydenberg, whose term began on 24 August 2018.

Electoral Commission (United Kingdom) an independent body set up by the UK Parliament

The Electoral Commission is the election commission of the United Kingdom. It is an independent body, set up in 2001 by the British Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for how elections should be run.

Australian Electoral Commission national election commission of Australia

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is the independent federal agency in charge of organising, conducting and supervising federal elections, by-elections and referendums.

The electoral roll is a list of persons who are eligible to vote in a particular electoral district and who are registered to vote, if required in a particular jurisdiction. An electoral roll has a number of functions, especially to streamline voting on election day. Voter registration is also used to combat electoral fraud by enabling authorities to verify an applicant's identity and entitlement to a vote, and to ensure a person doesn't vote multiple times. In jurisdictions where voting is compulsory, the electoral roll is used to indicate who has failed to vote. Most jurisdictions maintain permanent electoral rolls while some jurisdictions compile new electoral rolls before each election. In some jurisdictions, people to be selected for jury or other civil duties are chosen from an electoral roll.

New Zealand electorates voting district for elections to the New Zealand Parliament

An electorate is a geographical constituency used for electing members to the New Zealand Parliament. In informal discussion, electorates are often called seats. The most formal description, electoral district, is used in legislation. The size of electorates is determined on a population basis such that all electorates have approximately the same population.

Electoral system of New Zealand

The New Zealand electoral system has been mixed-member proportional (MMP) since 1996. MMP was introduced after a referendum in 1993. MMP replaced the first-past-the-post (FPP) system New Zealand had previously used for most of its history.

State Services Commission New Zealand government department

The State Services Commission (SSC) is the central public service department of New Zealand charged with overseeing, managing, and improving the performance of the State sector of New Zealand and its organisations.

Referendums in New Zealand

Referendums are held only occasionally by the Government of New Zealand. Referendums may be government-initiated or held in accordance with the Electoral Act 1993 or the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. Ten referendums have been held so far. Seven were government-led, and three were indicative citizen initiatives.

The New South Wales Electoral Commission is the statutory agency with responsibility for the administration, organisation, and supervision of elections in New South Wales for state government, local government, industrial and Aboriginal organisations, and registered clubs and statutory bodies.

Government of the Australian Capital Territory Government of the Australian Capital Territory

The Government of the Australian Capital Territory, also referred to as the Australian Capital Territory Government or ACT Government, is the executive authority of the Australian Capital Territory, one of the territories of Australia. The leader of the party or coalition with the confidence of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly forms Government. Unlike the Australian States and the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly directly elects one of their number to be the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory as the head of the Government, rather than being appointed by a Governor or Administrator.

Wellington Central (New Zealand electorate) Current New Zealand electorate

Wellington Central is an electorate, represented by a Member of Parliament in the New Zealand House of Representatives. Its MP since November 2008 has been Labour Party's Grant Robertson.

The Chief Electoral Office of New Zealand was a government office that was responsible for conducting general elections, by-elections and referendums. It was disestablished in 2010 and replaced with the New Zealand Electoral Commission.

The New Zealand voting system referendum, 2011, was a referendum on whether to keep the existing mixed member proportional (MMP) voting system, or to change to another voting system, for electing Members of Parliament to New Zealand's House of Representatives. It was held on Saturday 26 November 2011, in conjunction with the 2011 general election,

Electoral Act 1993 Act of Parliament in New Zealand

The Electoral Act 1993 "establishes the electoral agencies, electoral system, election processes, how MPs are replaced between elections, registration processes for political parties and logos, enrolment and electoral roll requirements, and provides for the Māori Electoral option, and the Representation Commission." One such agency is the Electoral Commission which is responsible, among other things, for the administration of parliamentary elections and referenda.

Broadcasting Act 1989

The Broadcasting Act 1989 creates a system of broadcasting standards.


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