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Independent Panel Appointed To Review Electoral Law

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi today announced appointments to the independent panel that will lead a review of New Zealand’s electoral law.

“This panel, appointed by an independent panel of experts, aim to make election rules clearer and fairer, to build more trust in the system and better support people to exercise their democratic right to vote,” Kris Faafoi said.

“We do have a world-class electoral system. But we need to make sure the rules remain fit for purpose and meet the needs of our future voters.”

The Government announced the review last year which will take place in two parts: a broad review led by the independent panel over the next 18 months, and targeted changes ahead of the 2023 General Election.

The Independent Review will look at elections rules such as:

· voting age and overseas voting

· funding of political parties

· the length of the parliamentary term

· the Electoral Commission’s recommendations on MMP:

· changes to the party vote threshold

· one seat electorate rule

· ratio of electorate seats to list seats

· the overhang rule

The independent panel, which was appointment with bipartisan support, will be chaired by Deborah Hart, a highly experienced director, lawyer, and chief executive.

The other members are Māori academic and political commentator Dr Maria Bargh; electoral law expert Professor Andrew Geddis; disability advocate and law student Alice Mander; former Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden; and lecturer and New Zealand Election Study co-lead Dr Lara Greaves.

“Maintaining public confidence in elections is critical for our democracy. This review is a once-in-a generation opportunity to consider how to make our electoral laws clearer, fairer, and more accessible,” Kris Faafoi said.

“I have consulted with all parliamentary party leaders and Parliament’s Justice Committee on the Terms of Reference for the review. Consultation also included other groups, such as Māori organisations, youth organisations, universities and the New Zealand Law Society when seeking nominations for potential panel members.

“It is critical that the review has broad public and cross-party support. “Appointing an independent panel will ensure that the review is fair and impartial.

“I am confident that the panel members have the right mix of skills, expertise, and diverse perspectives to lead this important mahi. Public engagement will be a key part of the review, so New Zealanders will have a chance to share their views before the panel makes its recommendations,” Kris Faafoi said.

The independent panel will consider a range of issues including the length of the parliamentary term, the voting age, the funding of political parties, and the Electoral Commission’s 2012 recommendations on changes to MMP. The Terms of Reference for the review are attached.

Panel Chair Deborah Hart says “The review is a significant opportunity to independently evaluate all our electoral laws by listening to the voices of the people to ensure the overall framework and regime is fit for purpose and future proofed to best serve Aotearoa New Zealand. I am honoured to chair that review.”

The independent panel’s final report is expected by the end of 2023.

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