General elections and referenda 

How do I check whether I'm on the electoral roll?

You can do this online, by checking the printed electoral rolls at your local Post Shop, or by calling the Electoral Commission on 0800 36 76 56 (available 24 hours).

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How do I enrol to vote?

If you are eligible to vote but aren't already enrolled, you can do so online

Application forms are also available at Post Shops. You can also contact the Electoral Commission (phone 0800 36 76 56 or free text 3676) to have an application form sent to you.

You can read about what information you’ll need to give when you enrol, on the Elections website.

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Can I enrol to vote if I’m homeless?

If you don’t currently have a place to live (for example if you are living on the street, in temporary accommodation or in your car) you can still enrol to vote.

When you enrol you’ll need to give a residential address:

  • if you are in temporary accommodation you will need to give the address of the place where you last lived for one month or more;
  • if you are homeless you can give the address of where you spend a substantial part of your time.

If you have any questions about where you ’reside’ you can call the Electoral Commission on 0800 36 76 56.

When you enrol you’ll also be asked to provide a postal address for receiving your enrolment confirmation, voting papers etc.

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Can I enrol to vote if I’m living overseas?

Yes, if you are eligible to vote. You will need to give your last home address in New Zealand as your current address - but you can register your overseas address as your postal address.

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Who can access my enrolment details and how would they do that?

The details of everyone registered to vote are published in the electoral roll book. Printed electoral roll books are available to all New Zealanders.

The electoral rolls are available at the Registrar of Electors' offices, Post Shops and some local libraries or council offices. (To find your nearest Registrar of Electors' office, go to the Electoral Commission website.) 

If for safety reasons you don’t want your details made public, read our information about the unpublished electoral role (below).

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How do I get on the unpublished electoral roll? I don’t want certain people having information about where I live.  
There is a special electoral roll for people who, for personal safety reasons, don’t want their address to be publicly available (for example, if you have experienced family violence and have a Protection Order). This roll is seen only by the registrars of electors.

To apply to be on this roll, you can call 0800 ENROL NOW (0800 36 76 56) to have the form Enrolling to vote on the Unpublished Electoral Roll posted to you, or get the form online. You can find out what information you need to give with your form on the Electoral Commission website.

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What difference will it make whether I enrol on the Māori roll or the General roll?
If you are a New Zealand Māori, or a descendant of New Zealand Māori, you can choose to enrol on either the General electoral roll or the Māori roll. You can’t be enrolled on both, but you have the opportunity to change from one roll to the other every five years.
Which electoral roll you are one won't affect who you can vote for with your party vote, but it will affect who you can vote for with your electorate vote:

  • Being on the General roll entitles you to vote for an MP in a General electorate at the next General Election. 
  • Being on the Māori roll entitles you to vote for an MP in a Māori electorate at the next General election.

You can find out what your General and Māori electorates are by checking this map on the Electoral Commission website.
More information about why we have a Māori electoral roll and what it means to be on it, is on the Electoral Commission website.

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Where do I go to vote?

The locations of polling places in your electorate will be on your EasyVote pack, which all enrolled voters will get closer to Election Day. You can also find out by calling 0800 36 76 56, or by visiting the Elections website a few weeks before Election Day.

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I won't be able to get to a polling place in my electorate on Election Day. Can I still vote?

Yes, you can still vote even if you won't be in your electorate on the day. You can do so by:

  • voting early at an advance voting place in your electorate - advance voting is available from two and half weeks before Election Day. Information about where, when, and how to vote in advance is available from the Electoral Commission website closer to Election Day. This information is also contained in the EasyVote information pack which voters receive in the post about a week before the elections. Or you can call freephone 0800 36 76 56 to get this information. 
  • casting a special vote - to cast a special vote you need to complete and return a special declaration form to have your voting papers sent to you. You can find out more about the special voting papers on the Electoral Commission website. When you have filled out your voting papers you send them back to your Returning Officer or drop them into a polling place - they will need to receive your voting papers by 7pm on Election Day.  
  • using the telephone dictation voting service - if you have a disability (e.g. you are blind or visually impaired) which prevents you from voting independently and in private at a voting place. Call freephone 0800 36 76 56 to find out more about this service.

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How do I vote if I’m in a rest home or hospital?

Voting teams visit rest homes and hospitals in the 12 days before elections, to provide voting services. You can ask your local returning officer whether your rest home or hospital will be visited.

Alternatively you can apply to be sent postal voting papers (see the previous question), or authorise someone to collect your voting papers for you. 

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Can I vote while I’m in prison?

If you are serving a prison sentence you will not be eligible to vote, but you can vote if you are on remand (held in custody while waiting for your trial or sentencing).

Voting teams visit prisons in the 12 days before Election Day to provide voting services to prisoners who are eligible.

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I'm a New Zealander living overseas. Can I still vote in the general elections?

You can vote from overseas by using a postal vote. You can download postal voting papers from the Elections website or write to the Electoral Commission to have the voting papers sent to you. An alternative to postal voting is voting in person at an overseas post (e.g. at the New Zealand Embassy). These are listed on the Elections website.

Note that you need to be an enrolled voter and:  

  • if you are a New Zealand Citizen you must have visited New Zealand within the last 3 years; 
  • if you are a permanent resident of New Zealand, you must have visited New Zealand within the last year.

More details are on the Elections website.

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Do I have to vote?

No, but you are required by law to be enrolled. If you don’t enrol and there’s no good reason for not doing so, you can be fined up to $100 for a first conviction, and up to $200 for a further conviction. 

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Who can join or start a political party?

Anyone can join a political party or start a new one, but if you want to be a candidate in an election you have to be eligible to vote, and the party you are standing for has to be registered with the Electoral Commission. There is more about registering a political party on the Elections website.

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What is a referendum and how do they work?

A referendum is when voters are asked to vote on a specific proposed law change. It’s usually phrased as a question, and you’re asked either to support or reject the law or proposal. There are two types of referendum:

  • Citizens-initiated: these happen if 10% of enrolled electors sign a petition to have a referendum on a particular topic. A citizens-initiated referendum is always non-binding (the results don’t have to be acted on or implemented).
  • Government initiated: the government has decided to hold a referendum. A government-initiated referendum can be either binding (the results have to be acted on or implemented) or non-binding.

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How do I start a Citizens-Initiated Referendum?

Any person can start a petition asking that a national referendum be held.

To initiate a referendum, you need to submit a proposal to the Clerk of the House of Representatives for approval (there is a fee for this). Once approved, you have 12 months to gather signatures for your petition calling for a referendum. You must have the signatures of at least 10% of all eligible voters in order for it to go ahead.

If you obtain enough signatures, you can present the petition to the House of Representatives and they will set a date for the referendum.

More information about referenda is on the Electoral Commission website.