Community Scoop

Prompting and promoting participation

nicola-sutton-1websizeNicola Sutton

Chief Executive | English Language Partners New Zealand

Having more time to educate and support people to enrol and vote in the election is an upside of the date being moved to 17 October. But, how much do you know about participating in the election?Take this quick true and false quiz to find out:

  1. Enrolling to vote is compulsory.
  2. Voting in a general election is compulsory.
  3. You have to be 18 years or older to enrol to vote.
  4. Only New Zealand citizens can enrol to vote.
  5. Anyone living in New Zealand for two years or more can enrol to vote.
  6. Migrants with permanent residence can enrol to vote if they have continuously lived in New Zealand for 12 months or more.

English Language Partners know that migrant participation in elections is lower than for people born in New Zealand. “Only 54 percent of migrants who had lived in New Zealand less than five years voted [in the last election], compared with 89 percent of migrants who had lived in New Zealand 15 years or more (Statistics New Zealand).

We also know that people of Asian ethnicity are less likely to enrol than other ethnicities, but those that do enrol, are more likely to vote. Barriers to voting include lack of knowledge about who can enrol to vote, lack of knowledge about candidates, disengagement from politics or just not ‘getting around to it’.

Staff from the Electoral Commission are currently visiting our community English language classes to talk with learners about enrolling and voting. They also supported the development of adult learning resources which you can freely download at From past experience we know that for some learners this will be their first experience of participating in a democratic election.

Community groups can play an important role in demystifying enrolment and voting processes and by encouraging people to participate in electing the government and sharing their views on the two referendums.

What can your community group do to support people, including newcomers, to enrol and participate in the 2020 election?

Answers to the quiz

More information about who can enrol to vote can be found on the Electoral Commission website

  1. T
  2. F
  3. T
  4. F
  5. F
  6. T

Enrolment information in other languages:


This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our website