There has been further criticism of the police for delays in investigating electoral law breaches and calls for the job to be handed to another body.

Electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler told a select committee inquiry into the 2011 election that police were quick to consider issues such as people voting twice, but when more complex issues were sent to police "it seems very little happens because police perhaps do have more serious things to do".

Mr Edgeler said minor breaches should be dealt with by a fine so police time was not wasted but candidates would realise there was a consequence for breaching the rules.

The Electoral Commission has made a similar call in its report to the committee on the election, saying it was concerned about the priority police gave to referrals on more complex electoral law issues. It suggested another enforcement agency or a Crown solicitor be charged with investigating breaches.


Blogger and National Party pollster David Farrar, who has been involved in National Party campaigns, urged the committee to recommend to Government that police should not be the enforcement body for most electoral offences. He said the commission had raised its concerns "very diplomatically".

"I will perhaps be somewhat less diplomatic, applying the three strikes and you're out rule. I think [the police] have had their third strike. In 2005, 2008 and 2011, all had serious issues of non-performance. Timely enforcement is very important because sometimes you want these resolved before the election. The voters should know if people have breached electoral rules."

He said it was 12 months since some complaints were referred and no outcome was known. At the time the commission raised its concern, a police spokesman said the police gave them "due priority" but had to weigh up other priorities, such as investigating sexual offending, armed robbery and drugs offences.

Last election there were 24 cases referred to the police by the commission and 62 complaints about dual voting. Only one of those has been resolved - the police decision not to lay charges against Radio Live for giving the Prime Minister an hour-long talkback slot during the campaign which the commission believed was an election programme.

When asked for an update on progress this week, a police spokesman said the person in charge of that area was away for the week.

The justice and electoral committee is also considering whether the 2014 election should be held using current electorate boundaries because of the delay in the Census until March 2013 - a year later than scheduled.

That delay will mean revised electorate boundaries to account for changes in the population are not finalised until April 2014, which National MP Jackie Blue said left little time for parties to select candidates.

Mr Farrar said it was important to have the new boundaries in place for the 2014 election, especially because of significant changes in the population around Christchurch. Parties could take steps such as selecting candidates based on provisional boundaries which were usually released much earlier. If there were major changes in the final boundaries, new selections could be held for those seats affected.