With the General Election and Referendum on the Voting System only days away, the Electoral Commission wants to ensure that voters are not misled by factually incorrect advertising about the content of the referendum.
The Electoral Commission has received a complaint about material issued by the Vote for Change organisation that states MMP “requires 120 MPs”, while the alternative voting systems to be considered in Part B of the referendum “could work with 99 MPs”.
“The Electoral Commission has no interest in stifling legitimate debate, but does have a direct interest in ensuring voters are provided with factually correct information,” says Robert Peden, Chief Electoral Officer.
The Electoral Referendum Act 2010 specifies that each voting system to be considered in the referendum will have 120 MPs.
“The Commission has responsibility for the official referendum education campaign. It is in that context, in relation to the number of MPs, where the Commission’s concerns lie.”
“The Vote for Change organisation is free to campaign for a reduction in the number of MPs, but to promote that view in a way that a implies a link between a vote for change, and a change in the number of MPs is factually incorrect, and misleading,” says Mr Peden.
Mr Peden also points out that if the debate was about the size of the House of Representatives, rather than the voting system, then it is factually incorrect to say that MMP requires 120 MPs. MMP could operate effectively with 99 MPs.
"The Commission’s view," Mr Peden adds, "is supported by independent expert opinion."
More information about the referendum, and the alternative voting systems is available at www.referendum.org.nz