Electoral Commission has some questions to answer


There is some social media buzz online regarding a letter allegedly sent by the Electoral Commission to some voters telling them that their votes weren’t counted?



Questions for the Electoral Commission:

Have you sent these letters out to voters?

How many have you sent?

Why could some voters votes not be counted?

What happens if a voter can prove they were enrolled?

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How many votes were involved?


  1. I’m hearing of lots of people receiving these letters. Many say they voted from overseas or had the Easy Vote card, or had always successfully voted before and are adamant they were enrolled to vote. I hope that answers can be obtained from the Electoral Commission.

  2. I have also heard accounts of resthome residents having their ballot papers ticked for National without their permission, or in an Epsom resthome, helpers reading out the list of candidates and stopping at the Act candidate’s name. Also, polling place workers wearing National Party lapel badges.

      • i think scrutiners and polling workers are two distinct groups

        ie: polling workers are reqd to be neutral, where scrutiners are there as a party rep keeping an eye on things

      • From what I’ve heard these people with the National party lapel badges were not scrutineers as they were helping people at the polling places. Scrutineers are not allowed to talk to voters at all.

    • I know for a fact that Electoral Commission staff are strictly instructed that ALL the names must be read out, even if the voter doesn’t want them all read out. I would be interested to know if these “helpers” were EC staff or just people assisting the residents. It is permissable for non EC staff to assist a person to vote as long as they are not instructing who to vote for, but there is sometimes a fine line between assistance and instruction. The claim about polling place workers wearing National Party lapels is more worrying. In absolutely no circumstance is an EC staff member allowed to wear any Party paraphenalia. Also scrutineers from the parties are not allowed to communicate with or accompany a voter behind a voting screen in any circumstance, although they are allowed to wear one party rosette on their clothes. If you have any evidence of a party scrutineer getting involved in the voting then this is abolutely forbidden and a complaint should be laid.

  3. I read before the election that you could vote if you weren’t registered (enrolled) if you filled in a form at the voting poll…
    Is that true?

    • Yes, but they don’t count that vote (unless it was before the election day) because for some reason they don’t allow enrolling on election day. Which is pretty undemocratic…

  4. These letters are nothing new Martyn.
    The procedure the informs non enrolled that their votes haven’t been counted has been going on for years and occurs after every election.

    • Amusing how a simple statement of fact attracts down votes, lol.

      I received one of these letters after the 1996 election when I had cast a vote erroneously assuming I was on the roll.

      • Hi Richard, I think what most people are wondering, inthe current case and your previous one, is that given that the polling booth staff have to check your name off on the list (of currently enrolled voters in the stated electorate) before issuing voting papers, how were you able to place a vote at all? There is a major glitch in the process it seems?

    • I moved and updated my address with the electoral commission too soon (I think you’ve got to live at the new address 2 months). They sent a confirmation/you were too soon letter to my new address but didn’t update my electorate in the system. Then, all subsequent letters went to my old address!

  5. Well it seems rather sick for officialdom to say haha your vo-oo-te! was wasted–loser! How about using resources to enable and encourage people to vote rather than put the boot in after the fact. The public effort from Elections NZ was less than previous years from what I observed.

    Presumably if these letters are sent to addresses it means the people were in the system at some stage or at least tried to enrol at a polling station.

    There is random behaviour from polling booth staff some of whom take it seriously and others just for a few hours paid work. And some are actively pro tory–farmers wives and the like that get the jobs in rural booths.

    The figures are there to look at and there is a disproportionate amount of disallowed votes in most Māori and some more working class electorates compared to the overall figure.

    It could be considered perhaps that if you are a NZ citizen you should have a voting authorisation number following a one off statutory declaration, that follows you for life like an IRD number irrespective of postal address.

    Postal addresses are way down the list these days in proving bona fides. An address only serves your electorate vote really and this could be updated on line with return emails etc. for activation.

    • Tiger Mountain – you suggest that the Electoral Commission actions are those of sick officialdom, and that instead they should be putting effort into encouraging people to vote. Is that not indirectly what they are doing? Are they not ‘enabling people to vote’ by pointing out to people who apparently want to vote, that if they want their vote to count, they should check that they are enrolled first?

      • sgthree,
        Martyn points out clearly WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE COMMISSION.

        Tiger mountain is right this was a botched election, evidenced by the large number of disallowed votes the Commission declared even before the election took place!

        Then they did nothing to fix their own incompetent system.

        Best we lay blame on the Commission for failing the voters in this time where many are forced to move into temporary accommodations eg; Cars, Sheds or Caravans with no address eh?

        We need to take the Commission to task as they failed in their assigned task.

        • Would be interesting to know what the peoples vote was that was disallowed Right or Left.
          So many strange things occurring like Key saying Grosser is on his last chance this term, he’s given Grosser the job of negotiating the TPP in his (Keys) place, maybe it means if Grosser dosnt get the job done soon, hes out, why else would he be given a last chance ,what has Grosser done that his job is on the line.
          Lets hope Grosser has a conscience and puts the people first instead of his job ,the TPP is not in NZ interest.

  6. Richard Christie. It’s not the fact that letters are being sent out, it’s that some people receiving them are saying they received Easy Vote cards or hadn’t changed their voting details and see no reason why they are not on the Electoral roll. I would be interested to see how many right wing voters received this letter.

    • Hi Kristi,

      Might you please quote the section of Martyn’s post upon which you base this interpretation.

    • Oh please, yet another excuse why the left lost the election? Corruption from the Electoral Commission. I suppose it makes a change from blaming the media.

  7. The electoral commission has refused to investigate any and all complaints around the election. From excusing the ABs who tweeted, to ppl who bragged on fb about making multiple votes. Both Natz voters, one had stolen a neighbours easy vote as he knew they wouldn’t use it. There have been multiple complaints from multiple sources and none of them are being investigated. A rigged election all the way.

  8. I know I’m not the brightest star in the sky, but I don’t understand this. If the Electoral Commission is sending out these letters to voters, who are supposedly not enrolled, how is it in possession of the address of the non enrolled voter? Surely the ID information can only come through a voter who is registered!

    Another point is this. A person intending to vote cannot get the voting papers and enter a polling booth, without first having their details checked off on the roll! So WTF is going on?

    Yet something else rotten in the corrupt state of NZ? Could well be.

    • Ans: In all probability nothing, these letters are probably sent to voters who either vote outside their electorate were not on the roll or could not produce an easyvote card at the booth. They then proceeded to cast a special vote aftertheir details had been recorded by the returning office officials at the site. They are informed at a later date, after checks have been made, should their vote have been invalid.

      It would help if Martyn produced more specific examples of his complaint so that no one here is left playing this silly guessing game.

  9. Aren’t they just trying to be helpful? Do you think it would be better to let people carry on thinking their vote counted when it didn’t?

  10. I’ve seen reports of people going to vote who had always been enrolled and voted successfully in the past for as many as 40 years, being told they were no longer on the roll.

    • There is to much amiss here, for us to just brush aside these errors.

      My son had awfull issues with voting in this election as he had no problem previously in the last two elections since he has been living in Germany for the last ten years.

      This time he had to call two times from Germany and wait for a representative to answer the call that took 15 minutes on a long distance call, very costly. It was a sham.

      He sweated on this and was about to throw the whole issue away without caring.

      This election he had to re-register after being registered automatically o/k as being in the same location address as the previous two elections so why have they changed the whole system?

      Is there any way he can re check if his vote was allowed this time?

      It may be it wasn’t, and if not then was this election rigged purposefully to achieve the Governments aims?

      • There seems to be a lot that needs to be looked into regarding the Electoral Commission. Also, it’s unheard of for electorate boundaries to be changed so close to an election.

  11. So…
    There’s an electoral roll that records who you are so you can vote.

    if you’re not on the roll how do they know who you are to write you a letter.

    they do know who you are so you must be on some roll, somewhere.

    What’s wrong with the roll that tells them you’re not on the electoral roll?

    What am I missing here?

    • If they can’t find you on the roll, you can make a special vote.

      In the process of making the special vote, you fill out a form that includes asking your address to help try and find you on the role.

      Therefore they have your address. Now if you’re not enrolled to vote, they use that address to send you a letter. Simple as that.

      No conspiracy here.

  12. I’ve just been informed that 27,467 people who voted by way of special declaration had their votes disallowed because they were not enrolled. That compares to about 20,000 last election (when turnout was lower). However, some whose votes were disallowed had Easy Vote cards.

  13. If you enroll late, or don’t have an easy vote card you have to make a special vote.

    There are three stages to making a special vote:
    1) You fill out a form giving out your address.
    2) The election staff check your electorate and give you the appropriate ballot paper.
    3) You make your vote.

    When your special vote is counted, you are checked to see whether you are on the unprinted electoral roll of your electorate. If you are, great, your vote is counted. If you aren’t, unfortunately your vote can’t be counted.

    The electoral commission cannot add you to the roll after the election, as this would break the law. So, they send you a letter, trying to get you to enroll properly well before the election so this doesn’t happen again.

    In other words: whats the problem here?

  14. If these arrive at the correct address surely that validates that enrolment and their vote. Something stinks…

  15. Hi,

    Everyone knows that they have to be enrolled to vote. This isn’t new. And yes undoubtedly they do have some addresses for for those who didn’t enroll but were enrolled previously. But the chances are that they also sent those same letters to others who were previously enrolled but are no longer, because they moved. No doubt those letters got returned unopened without anyone making a fuss.

    Cheers, Greg.

  16. The notification in itself is obviously appropriate. Would we prefer people weren’t notified ?

    It would be good to have Martyn’s questions answered though….how many votes were affected etc…

  17. As an assistant voting place manager (enquiry officer) on election day I believe I can answer a few questions here:

    1. Our goal is to make sure that no person leaves the voting place without having had the opportunity to vote. This means that if they are not on a printed roll (and thus can’t have their name checked off) then we issue a special vote. To do a special vote a voter must complete a special vote declaration form on which they are asked for their contact details. Special votes are always processed and counted at electorate HQ, never at the polling places. If a special vote is not counted it can be for a number of reasons, but very often involves change of electorates (moving house or electorate boundaries changing) within one month of polling day or not updating their details when the forms come out a few months before polling day. Those special votes that meet the criteria are counted and those that don’t aren’t. The basic idea is to give everyone the opportunity to vote first, and then check the details second. The issuing of letters to voters informing them that their vote did not count is outside my expertise but I assume it is part of normal EC process to help prevent future mistakes and to make sure people are kept informed.

    2. You can’t enrol on election day, in any circumstances. If a voter knows they are not enrolled they can still ask for and receive a special vote but it will not count and it will be disqualified after the usual processes of checking eligibility.

    3. There are a number of reasons why a voter’s name doesn’t appear on a printed roll. It includes enrolment after the roll was printed, change of electorate after the roll was printed, and inclusion on an unpublished roll. The unpublished roll is not available for public scrutiny and usually includes names of people who want their private addresses kept away from the public – generally high profile entertainment people, top police, politicians, billionaires, etc.

    4. Easy vote cards are designed to assist vote issuing officers to issue votes quickly without asking lots of questions and asking people to spell out their names, etc. as used to happen before 2002. They are very useful for this purpose. They are NOT designed to be a form of identification. It is a fact that no voter in New Zealand is actually required to produce an id to prove who they are before they vote. Perhaps this is not a good thing, but this how it works at the moment. It is quite possible for an unscrupulous person to steal someone else’s easy vote card, cast a vote (ostensibly on their behalf) and then go to another polling place and cast another using their own card. As the system works at the moment it is almost impossible to catch someone who is clever enough and wants to do this. The only practical way to catch someone doing this is if the issuing officer happens to know either the person voting or the name on the card and knows that they do not match. If a vote issuing officer has any suspicions they can require the voter to complete a special form in which the person legally declares that they haven’t previously voted. However this doesn’t often happen because of time constraints, and that people generally react with hostility if their honesty is questioned. That is one reason why the EC prefers to employ polling place staff who live near the polling place, so they have a better chance of recognizing people. We would be naïve to think that this kind of cheating does not happen. The nearest I got to this was one man who turned up with (what he claimed was) his elderly mother’s easyvote card and asked if he could cast a vote on her behalf to save time. At least in this case he was open about it and I think he was genuinely trying to be helpful, but of course he wasn’t able to do this. (We can issue takeaway votes in such circumstances).

    5. Scrutineers and party helpers. All scrutineers are required to register before the election. They normally do this via their party. They cannot simply turn up at a polling place on election day and expect to be able to stay there. A scrutineer may wear one Party lapel or rosette on the front of his/her clothes. They must not wear anything else that identifies the party and/or candidate they are helping. In other words they can’t wear a T-shirt that says vote for a party or a candidate. They are NOT allowed to communicate with voters before or during the voting process. They are NOT allowed to assist any voters either physically or verbally, nor can they accompany a voter behind a voting screen. They are there primarily to observe and report back to their own parties. They are not even supposed to communicate with vote issuing officers, the only EC person they are allowed to talk to is the polling place manager. Any scrutineer who doesn’t follow these rules can be kicked out and barred from re-entering a polling place and their party informed. In my experience, I have generally had an amicable relationship with scrutineers, and most of them rigorously keep to the rules and guidelines.
    6. Helpers. Anyone that assists a voter to do something is a helper. Basically anyone can be a helper. It may be just physically supporting someone, usually an elderly person, pushing a wheelchair, reading out the list of candidates and parties to blind people or using sign language to deaf voters. They do not have to be registered or licensed in any way. At polling places EC staff prefer to help voters with things involving the ballot paper but naturally many voters prefer their own helpers to do this. As we are not allowed to accompany a voter behind a voting screen unless invited, it is sometimes difficult to judge from a distance the fine line between a voter being helped, and a voter being instructed. We certainly do not permit anyone to instruct a voter who to vote for and if we think this is happening we have the right to intervene. But this is the age of privacy concerns and we have to keep this in mind all the time. In my experience the biggest problems is with dictatorial men who want to make sure their wives/partners vote a certain way so they accompany them behind the voting screen. (Muslim men are chief culprits here, I am sorry to say).
    There is certainly no way I would allow any person wearing any party identification to accompany another voter behind a voting screen. In fact if anyone comes into a voting place wearing any party identification material (apart from a rosette) I would ask them to leave and remove it before re-entering.

    A long piece but hope it answers some concerns here.

    • Marcus,

      “But this is the age of privacy concerns and we have to keep this in mind all the time.”

      Perhaps the Government needs to think this way now also but unfortunately this administration is changing the law to place surveillance upon us all you included, so how d you balance this EC policy with the mass surveillance that the Government has now set upon us, so what is the point here?

      “The unpublished roll is not available for public scrutiny and usually includes names of people who want their private addresses kept away from the public – generally high profile entertainment people, top police, politicians, billionaires, etc.”

      Now we ALL feel as though we are under the Government intelligence spying control we now as citizens would rather see our abilities for us to check online for the details of our voting information that the EC has as it records our voting preferences; as you state, “votes are always processed and counted at electorate HQ, never at the polling places.”

      This way we can easily check to see that our vote was recorded correctly by EC, and avoid any future public suspicion surrounding possible electoral fraud.

      The voting form was given me with the line & page number as my location identifier of who it was that cast that voting paper right?

      So there is a way we can ask for the record in the EC system for a copy of our Voting paper, and there therefore is a way to have our record also placed on the list of votes collected for a Party vote and candidate.

      So when this record keeping is made at the voting booth it could simply be inputted electronically at the same time when the voting paper is handed to us to fill in right?

      Though I am not an accountant I will advance this possibility.

      This accounting procedure could then be a clean system of stocktaking of all voters records at the same time as shop cash registers now also take inventory for future stock requirements.

      Then we can access a voter register for our independent voting record later to check for accuracy?

    • This does not answer the question of why people are saying they’ve lived at their current address for more than 3 years, have always voted successfully in the past, had an Easy Vote card but still received a letter saying their vote was not counted.

      • No, and this should be investigated. You are obviously talking about experienced voters here, not first-timers, and it is unlikely they would make a simple mistake to invalidate their vote.
        Personally I suspect that penny pinching is part of the problem with this election. At our polling booth, this year, we were not supplied with some gear and stationery that was available the previous time and had to improvise. Also they made a new rule about no photos and cellphones in the voting places, but supplied only one tiny poster about the photos and nothing at all about the cellphones. Didn’t make my job much easier having to continually ask people to stop using their cellphones in the hall when there was nothing in writing about it.
        It will be interesting to see what happens about the pro-JK tweets by the All Blacks on election day. My guess is that the EC will just growl at them and do nothing. The EC cannot prosecute, the police have to do this and do we have any confidence in the police to fully investigate anything that questions the supposed integrity of John Key and his government? nah!

    • Good general technical answer on various levels and you appear to be sincere, BUT my original contention stands that something is amiss with the disparity of disallowed votes being higher in Māori and certain other electorates compared to the overall numbers.

      Two elections back my partner worked in a Northland electorate “voting place” on election day and the supervisor did not even unpack the Te Tai Tokerau stuff by opening time. Some people on the Māori roll were given general seat voting papers and approached my partner as their preferred candidate was not listed of course. “Oh! all right, is it that important” said the supervisor and got her act together but blanked my partner for the rest of the day. I will go out on a limb and state this was at Mangonui School.

      So bias did occur on that day for some potential voters. In rural areas “good ’ol boys” often hang around the polling places too, just giving that unsubtle message to people. It is about patronage, who gets the farm and tradie jobs, “we are blue around here mate”.

  18. Yes Martyn,


    Can you please also find out how we can obtain all our personal details surrounding our vote, I.E. what party vote and candidate plus occupation and current address we are registered as?

    We know the electoral role comes out but surely in this electronic age we should be able to access our vote details also?

  19. Hey ! Where are my previous comments ?

    You know , the ones about what happens to our vote/numbers once they become entangled in the computers ?

    The above by @ Marcus , while all terribly interesting , doesn’t address what happens to our votes between the time they’re entered into the computer/s and made public as results .

    Is there a data base within which all our votes are collated then made ready for public release via the media ?

    I’m trying to get my head around the process . Years ago , before the internet etc , votes were laboriously sorted and the results were phoned in as the votes were counted .

    Am I being dull minded and simplistic and missing something here or is there an opportunity to fiddle with the numbers before they’re made public ?

    After all the good people who’ve done all their good work to the best of their ability and in a good , decent and honourable way … is there an opportunity for a Dirty Politic to creep in and start moving zeros around ? That’s all I’m asking .

    Yes or no . Please .

    If there is an opportunity , a possibility ?

    If there is the slightest possibility , then that needs to be investigated .

    As a citizen of New Zealand ( Which is still a Member of the British Commonwealth . ) I do not believe john key and the National Government achieved a majority vote to govern this country by fair means and I call upon those who’s responsibility it is to maintain voting standards consider my concerns above . If there can be doubt cast upon the NZ voting process during the 2014 general elections , then a full Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed forthwith . In my opinion .

  20. My wife, daughter, and I live overseas. Although we are enrolled and the Electoral Commission was apprised of our whereabouts we never received our ballots. We did download ballots and declarations (costly in our location to have notarised) and sent them by speed post to the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. I would like to think that our votes were counted, but who knows?

    • I downloaded mine, voted, took a photo of the voting papers, and uploaded it on the site. No notary publics necessary. Didn’t cost a thing. MInd you, my party vote didn’t go anywhere because of Labour and Winston First, who tag teamed Hone on behalf of FJK.

  21. We lost. We have ourselves to blame. We knew the MSM was against us. We knew FJK plays dirty. We fucked up because Labour is not on our side and hasn’t been for 30 years. We fucked up because Labour and Winston First did a job on Hone. We fucked up because we thought IMP was a good idea and someone who could be portrayed as a cartoon villain would inspire people to vote. FFS, let’s stop crying and build something that can do a hell of a lot better.

  22. Here are 2 more comments I read online today from those who received these letters:

    “When I went to vote my name wasn’t down on the roll, even though I got letters from the Electoral Commission before the election, saying “Thank you, you’re now enrolled to vote this upcoming election”. So I had to make a special vote.

    “I voted last time, but this time round I had to do a special vote because they told me I wasn’t registered but I had also been receiving letters telling me I was able to vote.”

  23. Why is the electoral commission refusing to check complaints, it seems the whole of government agencies are owned by John Key, he is judge and jury of everything, what fools the NZ public is to put up with this lying corrupt dictator.

    • How hard would it be for the NatZ to rig the election after reading Investigative Journalist Greg Palast’s introduction of his book called Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.
      Probably very easy as the book graphically shows our current non electronic paper trail shows how venerable it really is.
      We called for an independent verification of those skewed election results Martyn correctly questioned recently. We believe an investigation is required as this Government cannot be trusted.

      Read here


      by Greg Palast
      It’s called Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.
      An investigation of Karl Rove, the Koch Gang and their billionaire Buck-Buddies. The guys who bought Ryan.
      It’s the most important bullet I’ve ever fired.
      I watch these smug jerks at the Republican Convention and I’m ill … because I know something they won’t tell you on CNN or CBS, let alone Fox. And here’s the facts, ma’am:
      In 2008, no fewer than 2,706,275 ballots were cast—and never counted.
      It didn’t make a difference then, but it will make a difference now.
      And, in 2008, no fewer than 3,195,539 legal voters were denied the right to vote. Told to get the hell out of the polling station.
      Add it up. That’s at least 5,901,814 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count.
      So God Bless America. By the way, these numbers are from the raw data supplied to me by the US Elections Assistance Commission.
      It’s official. It’s in your face. It’s sick. It’s unreported. Read more…

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