Rugby stars Israel Dagg and Jonah Lomu and champion rower Eric Murray have been referred to police over tweets they made on election day.

The Electoral Commission today confirmed that the trio were among 26 incidents were referred to police yesterday in response to complaints about social media activity on election day.

At the last election the commission referred only five.

Dagg's referral stemmed from a tweet he sent to his more than 83,000 Twitter followers saying: "Just voted for @johnkeypm and the National party all the best for tonight #blueallday #National".


All Blacks legend Lomu, who has nearly 48,000 twitter followers, tweeted: "@johnkeypm All the best Tonight Get in there everyone your last chance to vote and grow NZ go "National" #vote2014nz".

Olympic gold medal-winning rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond tweeted: "Get out & vote NZ! Plenty of time left #decision14 Don't worry @johnkeypm you got my vote! #sportfunding".

Bond later blamed Murray for the gaffe, telling the Herald: "He's a moron".

Of the incidents this year, 24 involved people publishing or distributing statements likely to influence voters on election day in breach of the Electoral Act, including seven people publishing material indicating how they voted or publishing statements likely to influence voters - including comments posted by high profile sports personalities, Israel Dagg, Jonah Lomu and Eric Murray.

Two incidents were of a person posting a photograph of a completed ballot paper together with a statement that could influence voters.

Thirteen incidents involving people sharing on election day a video featuring John Key and a 'vote National Party' message posted on the Young Nats Facebook page after the close of advance voting on Friday, September 19.

Two incidents involving people sharing on election day a 'vote for Nikki Kaye National Party candidate, Auckland Central' message posted on her Facebook page on Friday, September 19.

A further two incidents which have been referred to police involved individuals who posted online that they intended to vote more than once - also an offence under the Electoral Act.

Rules apply to social and main stream media

Publishing anything on election day which could potentially influence another voter is prohibited until voting booths have closed under the Electoral Act 1993.

The rule applies to social media users as well as main stream media, and the maximum penalty for a breach is $20,000 according to the Electoral Commission.

Prime Minister John Key said people had to obey the law.

"It's not for me to speak about their particular case but I'd probably surmise at least it was done out of ignorance of the law rather than some intent."

Asked if people should face prosecution for a tweet he said the increased use of social media and rise in advance voting raised some issues. Social media in particular was difficult to control.

"Generally the Police seem to be in my experience pretty good at it - looking at what might be a technical breach versus something more serious."

The Electoral Act currently prohibits any electioneering on election day itself and Mr Key indicating he would be reluctant to change that.

"It depends where you want to end up. I lived in Australia for a year when there was a general election on and it's a bit of a fiasco when you go down to the polling booth - people are constantly trying to give things to you and all the rest of it.

"When you're in that one period where you probably want a bit of peace of quiet to decide who you're going to vote for. I'm not a great fan of a massive expansion on the day. I think if you haven't made the case by then it's probably a bit late.

"It's a complex piece of law which is in an interesting space now because of advance voting. And that might be something the Justice and Electoral Select Committee ultimately go and look at. I suspect though that any changes would reflect what happens prior to election day maybe than on the day."

Mr Lomu had appeared alongside Mr Key during the campaign, including accompanying him to a South Auckland Tongan Church meeting. Asked if he would be happy give the men a character reference he said he would.

Police confirmed a referral from the Electoral Commission regarding 26 incidents in relation to the 2014 general election had been received.

"This information will now be assessed to determine what further steps are necessary. Police will not be providing any further comment."

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