A Maori politics lecturer at Massey University claims some Maori have been given "misinformation" by staff at early polling booths.

Veronica Tawhai said the misleading information was confusing some voters, putting them off exercising their democratic right and refreshing past claims of deliberate sabotage.

The Electoral Commission has confirmed it is taking the complaint seriously.

Ms Tawhai said she had received numerous complaints from across the country, her request that all staff be advised to ensure that accurate information was being provided to electors seemingly being ignored, calling into question the commitment of the Electoral Commission to the principle of 'democracy for all'.


"Maori, and particularly young Maori, are constantly criticised for being uninformed, uninterested or apathetic when it comes to participating in political activities such as voting," Ms Tawhai said.

"Yet, when our people attempt to be proactive in exercising our democratic rights, some are prevented from doing so due to ignorance amongst officials who are meant to be assisting in the process.

We want everyone to have a good experience when they go to vote, and if that doesn't happen, we want to hear about it


"This is completely unacceptable, and something the Electoral Commission and Chief Electoral Officer need to rectify immediately."

She and others had complained to the Electoral Commission over incidents including:

* Polling booth staff being unaware of the Maori roll, and insisting electors were not registered when their names did not appear on the general roll;
* Staff having difficulty locating Maori names, even when given identification;

* Staff giving incorrect information about the Maori electorates, electorate areas and where electors could be enrolled;

* Maori enrolled in Maori electorates being given the wrong voting forms and having to argue with staff to receive the correct ones;

* And electors on the general roll being told they could not vote for a 'Maori party' if they were not on the Maori roll.

Some Maori electors also claimed they had been ignored by those responsible for hearing complaints.

Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright it was important the commission that all voters were able to have their say in this election.

"We take this matter seriously," she said.

"The commission has been in touch with Veronica Tawhai to discuss the matters she has raised and to assure her that they will be followed up.

"A small number of complaints have been received from other voters, and they are being looked into."

Ms Wight said there were a large number people working on the election but they should have received adequate preparation.

"During the election period we have about 15,000 people working in our voting places.

"They all receive training, including on the General Roll and the Māori Roll, and every voting place issues both Māori and General electorate ballot papers.

"Our staff are trained about the importance of checking to ensure they issue the correct voting paper to each voter," Ms Wright said.

"We have sent a reminder of the processes to our voting place staff."

Ms Wright urged anyone with concerns to contact the commission as soon as possible.

"We want everyone to have a good experience when they go to vote, and if that doesn't happen, we want to hear about it."

Feedback could be emailed, with as much detail as possible, to enquiries@elections.govt.nz.

"Telling the commission when and where they voted will help us investigate and resolve any issues that have been raised."