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.