Final report from Independent Electoral Review released

In January, Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith released the final report of the Independent Electoral Review, a process started in May 2022 by then Minister Kris Faafoi.

The Government has promised to make a formal response to the review which includes over 140 recommendations covering many aspects of parliamentary electoral laws.

In announcing the release of the report Minister Goldsmith indicated that the Government is already moving ahead on the recommendation to amend the constitution extending the term of Parliament to four years. He also ruled out several recommendations immediately including lowering the voting age to 16 and allowing prisoners to vote and stand for Parliament.

Transparency International New Zealand participated in the consultation process on areas affecting transparency, democracy and open government.

Political Finance

The report acknowledges that while raising money and other resources is fundamentally important to parties’ and candidates’ participation in the electoral system, there are risks to electoral integrity and public confidence in the system if there is undue influence.

A recommendation included in the report is to eliminate the seldom used protected disclosure regime which allows large money donors to remain anonymous. In consultation with the Privacy Commissioner the review team determined that the public’s need to know outweighs a donor’s need for privacy.

The Independent Electoral Review is recommending that only individuals enrolled to vote should be able to make loans or donate to parties and candidates with stricter limits and controls. There are a number of proposals to close loopholes, reduce limits, and increase reporting requirements.

Tighter control over third-party promoters is recommended. These include requiring them to keep records of election campaign donations in separate bank accounts, more frequent reporting and disclosure of donors who donate over $30,000 in total during an electoral cycle. They are proposing rules aimed at restricting collusion between third-party promoters and political parties.

To support these changes the review is calling for increasing monitoring powers for the Electoral Commission and offence provisions in the Electoral Act.

Slight increases in government funding support are proposed to offset loss of revenue compared to the current system.


As stated in the report “...disinformation is a broad and significant all-of-society issue. It impacts more than just the electoral system. It is not possible to address the larger issue of disinformation in this review, but we are concerned about the risk it presents to the security and resilience of the electoral system, and voter participation.”

The Independent Electoral Review proposed:

  • Extending the time-frame for the offence of knowingly publishing false information to influence voters to include the entire advance voting period and election day.
  • That the overhaul and consolidation of the offences and penalties regime for electoral law specifically considers the scope of the undue influence offence, and whether it should be expanded to include disinformation methods and mechanisms.

In addition they stated “We recommend that the government gives broader consideration to whether the laws regulating the use of microtargeting, including for online election advertising, are sufficient. Any changes in this area could impact the risk of bad-faith actors using targeting technology to spread disinformation.”

Foreign Interference

In hopes to mitigate the risks associated with overseas influence in New Zealand elections, the Panel recommends:

  • Prohibiting registered third-party promoters from using money from overseas persons to fund electoral advertising during the regulated period.
  • Amending the overseas person definition to close potential loopholes.


The Independent Electoral Review was comprehensive in reviewing issues and risks to the integrity of Parliamentary elections and listening to interested parties. 

TINZ supports some recommendations, and not others. For example TINZ does not support an automatic right of prisoners to stand for election. Our reasoning is set out in our submission. 

TINZ does support the recommendation to increase monitoring powers for the Electoral Commission and offence provisions in the Electoral Act, including restricting collusion between third-party promoters and political parties. TINZ supports recommendations around transparency of political donations and third party promoters, and an overhaul and consolidation of all electoral offences and penalties, to ensure they are consistent and still fit for purpose. 

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