INDEPENDENT NEWS

Media Activity on Election Day

Published: Mon 21 Nov 2011 12:22 PM
MEDIA ADVISORY
Monday 21 November
Electoral Commission
Te Kaitiaki Take Kōwhiri
Media Activity on Election Day
The Electoral Commission advises that no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day. This covers any statement that is likely to influence a voter as to which candidate, party or referendum option they should or shouldn’t vote for, or which influences people to abstain from voting.
The general intention is to leave voters alone from midnight until 7pm on election day so they can vote without interference. The key messages are:
• News items must not include any words or images likely to influence voters.
• Restrictions apply to photographing or filming voters or candidates at or near polling
places on election day.
All election and referendum advertising and other statements, by anybody including the media, which could influence voters cannot be published or broadcast on election day until after the close of the poll at 7 pm.
Newspapers published after 6 pm on the day before election day are treated as being published on election day
News stories posted on websites before election day can remain, as long as the website is not advertised on election day. Comment functions should be disabled on all websites, including social media sites, until after 7pm on election day to avoid readers posting statements that could influence voters.
News media may print or broadcast a statement having direct or indirect reference to the election or referendum. A news item may note that an election (and referendum) is taking place, and when results will be available. Candidates’ and party names can be mentioned, but the item must not include any words or visual images that are likely to influence voters about how they should vote.
It is not a defence to argue that an election day publication is balanced (e.g., it looks at the pros and cons of a particular issue that has featured during the election or referendum campaigns), or that it does not mention the name of a party or candidate, or that all candidates or parties are given equal coverage.
The test is whether the publication is likely to influence a voter.
Broadcasters should take care with any items that feature candidates or parties, or include interviews with candidates or party officials. If in any doubt, broadcasters should delay broadcasting an election-related item until after the polls close at 7pm.
Photo/filming opportunities on election day
Candidates may only be in a polling place for the purpose of voting.
Media organisations can take photos or film at a polling place as long as:
• the prior approval of the Returning Officer has been obtained. Media must contact the Electoral Commission before election day to arrange this;
• no photographs or footage are taken of voters actually completing their ballot papers or showing how a person voted. Media cannot go behind the voting screens;
• photographers or camera crews do not disrupt voters from voting, or officials from their duties;
• no undue delays are caused to voters;
• no interviews are conducted in or near the polling place.
The Electoral Commission’s role
Where the Electoral Commission becomes aware of a breach through the media or receives a complaint the Commission will look into the incident and where appropriate refer to the matter to the Police.

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