Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Campaigning near early voting booths to be banned

Labour candidate Hamish McDouall on the first day of advance voting in 2014. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Labour candidate Hamish McDouall on the first day of advance voting in 2014. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Law changes are on the way to stop politicians campaigning around advance voting booths and to prevent a repeat of a 2014 ban on a satirical music video.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the Government was likely to adopt all of the recommendations made by a select committee inquiry into the 2014 election.

That included clarifying the law to make it clear satirical and humorous productions were exempt from strict advertising and broadcasting rules that apply to election programmes.

In 2014 the Electoral Commission banned the broadcast of satirical song and video Planet Key during the campaign because it considered it an election programme or advertisement.

Musician Darren Watson later successfully challenged that in the High Court which found the song was not covered by electoral or broadcasting laws.

The changes will be done as part of a wider overhaul of broadcasting laws. It would also consider recommendations for more flexible use by parties of their broadcasting allocations.

Adams also expected to change the law before 2017 to cater for the increasing trend of advance voting in 2014 and the Northland byelection after that.

That would result in a ban on election campaigning or campaign advertising around advance voting booths, as well as providing more booths and allowing votes to be counted earlier.

In 2014, 29 per cent of voters (717,579) voted early - much higher than in 2011.

Although campaigning is banned on election day itself, there are no restrictions for advance voting and the Electoral Commission has relied on the good will of the candidates not to campaign outside them.

Several candidates, including then Labour leader David Cunliffe, voted early and urged their supporters to do the same.

Adams said the Government would work on those as well as proposals to boost voter turn out with the Electoral Commission.

- NZ Herald

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