We have until the 14th of November (5pm Aotearoa time) to ​make submissions on the electoral process. This can be done in ​less than five minutes!

An independent panel is currently reviewing our electoral law. ​They will recommend changes to our voting system and the way ​elections are run. These reviews happen around once every ten ​years and the outcomes will determine how our elections work in ​the near future.

This review includes the rights of New Zealanders to vote from ​overseas and how this is done.

About the review

How to submit

There are two options for your submission:

What are the issues for overseas ​New Zealanders?

There are several areas of this review that impact overseas New ​Zealanders. The two most pressing are:

  • Extending the voting eligibility criteria for overseas-based New ​Zealanders
  • Making it easier to vote from overseas, including removing the ​need to physically print and sign a ballot. We also want to ​ensure that all voters, including those in remote locations or ​with accessibility requirements, are able to vote.

Tips for a good submission

You do not need to fill out all sections, only those that are ​important to you! A good submission does not need to be long to ​be impactful. Even a 100 word submission counts! For maximum ​impact your submission should:

  • Be written by yourself (copied and pasted submissions are ​largely ignored).
  • Identify what issue or issues are most important to you.
  • Specify what changes you would like to see and why this is ​important to you.
  • If possible, a personal story or anecdote is very helpful. It ​shows the panel how these rules impact on individuals. Have ​you had difficulty voting from overseas, or lost your voting ​rights, for example?

What are the facts about overseas ​voting eligibility?

To vote from overseas you must have visited Aotearoa New ​Zealand in the last three years if you are a citizen, or the last one ​year if you are a permanent resident.

This rule has been in place since 1956 without change. The nature ​of migration has changed dramatically since then and Aotearoa ​New Zealand now has one of the largest relative overseas ​communities in the world. Around one million New Zealanders live ​overseas, many of whom cannot vote. This was most notable in ​the 2020 election, when many lost their right to vote as they could ​not return home.

For the 2023 election only, the government announced they were ​extending this criteria to six years for citizens and four years for ​residents. However this is not a permanent change.

Many New Zealand citizens cannot vote in the countries where ​they live, meaning they have lost their democratic right to choose a ​political representative.

Aotearoa New Zealand is behind other countries in this regard. ​The USA, UK and Canada allow all overseas citizens to vote, while ​Australia does so if they “intend to return home” within six years.

Many New Zealanders remain connected to Aotearoa New ​Zealand through friends, family and whenua but do not have the ​money or opportunity to return home every three years. Extending ​this eligibility criterion would ensure the right to vote is more ​accessible to all, and not just those who can afford it.

What are the facts about voting​ accessibility?

New Zealanders overseas can vote in person at an overseas post, ​by downloading voting papers and then uploading them to the ​Electoral Commission website, or by post, fax or telephone ​dictation.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas voters ​should no longer be required to print their ballot papers and ​instead should be able to use a digital signature. This would make ​voting more accessible as printers are becoming harder to track ​down.

All accessible voting options, including telephone dictation (which ​is available for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand), should be ​available to voters living outside Aotearoa New Zealand. In ​previous elections, this has been difficult for diasbled voters to ​access.

Overseas voting posts should have accurate information on ​opening times on their websites and make every effort to extend ​their times to include as many voters as possible.

If a voter has trouble finding their details using electronic methods, ​the Electoral Commission should be able to help immediately. No ​one should lose their vote because of computer issues.

Who can I talk to for more information?

If you have any questions about the submission process, contact ​details for the electoral review panel can be found here.