Offences at elections

197 Interfering with or influencing voters

(1)

Every person commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 who at an election—

(a)

in any way interferes with any elector, either in the polling place or while the elector is on the way to the polling place with the intention of influencing the elector or advising the elector as to the elector’s vote:

(b)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll in or in view or hearing of any public place holds or takes part in any demonstration or procession having direct or indirect reference to the poll by any means whatsoever:

(c)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll makes any statement having direct or indirect reference to the poll by means of any loudspeaker or public address apparatus or cinematograph or television apparatus:

provided that this paragraph shall not restrict the publication by radio or television broadcast made by a broadcaster within the meaning of section 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1989 of—

(i)

any advertisement placed by the Electoral Commission or a Returning Officer; or

(ii)

any non-partisan advertisement broadcast, as a community service, by a broadcaster within the meaning of section 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1989; or

(iii)

any news in relation to an election:

(d)

at any time before the close of the poll, conducts in relation to the election a public opinion poll of persons voting before polling day:

(e)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll, conducts a public opinion poll in relation to the election:

(f)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll, or at any time on any of the 3 days immediately preceding polling day, prints or distributes or delivers to any person anything being or purporting to be in imitation of any ballot paper to be used at the poll and having thereon the names of the candidates or the parties or any of them, together with any direction or indication as to the candidate or party for whom or for which any person should or should not vote, or in any way containing any such direction or indication, or having thereon any matter likely to influence any vote:

(g)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll exhibits in or in view of any public place, or publishes, or distributes, or broadcasts,—

(i)

any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party for whom the elector should or should not vote; or

(ii)

any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector to abstain from voting; or

(iii)

any party name, emblem, slogan, or logo; or

(iv)

any ribbons, streamers, rosettes, or items of a similar nature in party colours:

provided that this paragraph shall not apply to any statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo in a newspaper published before 6 pm on the day before polling day:

provided also that where any statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo which does not relate specifically to the election campaign and which is so exhibited before polling day in a fixed position and in relation to the New Zealand or regional or campaign headquarters (not being mobile headquarters) of a political party or a member of Parliament’s out-of-Parliament office, it shall not be an offence to leave the statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo so exhibited on polling day:

provided further that this paragraph shall not restrict the publication of any party name in any news which relates to an election and which is published in a newspaper or other periodical or in a radio or television broadcast made by a broadcaster within the meaning of section 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1989:

provided further that this paragraph shall not apply to ribbons, streamers, rosettes, or items of a similar nature, which are worn or displayed by any person (not being an electoral official) on his or her person or on any vehicle in party colours or to a party lapel badge worn by any person (not being an electoral official):

(h)

at any time on polling day before the close of the poll prints or distributes or delivers to any person any card or paper (whether or not it is an imitation ballot paper) having thereon the names of the candidates or the parties or any of them:

(i)

exhibits or leaves in any polling place any card or paper having thereon any direction or indication as to how any person should vote or as to the method of voting:

(j)

subject to any regulations made under this Act, at any time on polling day before the close of the poll, within, or at the entrance to, or in the vicinity of, any polling place,—

(i)

gives or offers to give any person any written or oral information derived from a main or supplementary roll as to any name or number on the main roll or any supplementary roll being used at the election:

(ii)

permits or offers to permit any person to examine any copy of the main roll or any supplementary roll being used at the election:

(k)

in respect of an advance voting place or a buffer zone, as defined in section 197A(10), does any of the things prohibited in that section.

(2)

It shall be a defence to a prosecution for an offence against subsection (1)(g) that relates to the exhibition in or in view of a public place of a statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo, if the defendant proves that—

(a)

the exhibition was inadvertent; and

(b)

the defendant caused the exhibition to cease as soon as the defendant was notified by a Returning Officer or a manager of the polling place that the exhibition was taking place.

(2A)

It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence against paragraph (g) of subsection (1) that relates to the publication on an Internet web site of a statement or other material specified in that paragraph, if the defendant proves that—

(a)

the statement or material was placed on the web site before polling day; and

(b)

the defendant did not operate or permit the operation of systems that cause the statement or material on the web site to be made available, on polling day, to persons other than persons who voluntarily access the web site; and

(c)

the defendant did not, on polling day, distribute, broadcast, or exhibit in or in view of a public place, or publish, or at any time cause to be published, in an issue of a newspaper or magazine that is first issued on polling day any material promoting or advertising the web site.

(2B)

It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence against subsection (1)(k) that relates to the exhibition of a statement, name, emblem, slogan, or logo in an advance voting place or a buffer zone if the defendant proves that—

(a)

the exhibition was inadvertent; and

(b)

the defendant caused the exhibition to cease as soon as the defendant was notified by the Electoral Commission or a manager of the advance voting place that the exhibition was taking place.

(3)

Nothing in this section shall apply to any official statement or announcement made or exhibited under the authority of this Act.

Compare: 1956 No 107 s 127; 1990 No 1 s 65(1)

Section 197(1): amended, on 1 July 2013, by section 413 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 (2011 No 81).

Section 197(1): amended, on 20 December 2007, by section 20 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2007 (2007 No 113).

Section 197(1)(a): amended, on 28 February 2002, by section 101(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 197(1)(c)(i): amended, on 1 October 2010, by section 32(1)(a) of the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 26).

Section 197(1)(f): amended, on 6 December 1995, by section 69(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act (No 2) 1995 (1995 No 61).

Section 197(1)(g): amended, on 21 March 2017, by section 95(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2017 (2017 No 9).

Section 197(1)(h): amended, on 6 December 1995, by section 69(2) of the Electoral Amendment Act (No 2) 1995 (1995 No 61).

Section 197(1)(i): amended, on 28 February 2002, by section 101(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 197(1)(k): inserted, on 21 March 2017, by section 95(2) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2017 (2017 No 9).

Section 197(2)(b): amended, on 28 February 2002, by section 101(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 197(2A): inserted, on 28 February 2002, by section 80 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 197(2B): inserted, on 21 March 2017, by section 95(3) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2017 (2017 No 9).