Social media sites including Twitter and Facebook will be monitored on election day to ensure electoral rules are not breached, Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden says.It sounds like pages that were up prior to election day can stay up, but no new content can be added:
It is illegal to campaign on an election day, a prohibition which covers the publishing or broadcasting of anything intended to influence votes.
The Electoral Commission says the rules apply to social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and blogs - and any breaches will be followed up.
With tweeting becoming increasingly popular, Mr Peden says, the commission will keep an eye on electronic media communications on polling day, which is on 26 November.
"If people tweet on election day in a way which is trying to influence how somebody votes, then that's a breach of the act and we'll be following it up."
Mr Peden says the Electoral Commission will consider whether it needs to do anything more to ensure people are aware of the rules.
Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden said material posted on social media websites was covered by strict rules which prohibit electioneering on election days.I have no interest in electioneering - I abstain from voting. But I could imagine posting the latest odds from iPredict along with strategic voting suggestions for those who feel compelled to vote. Would that be illegal? How about encouraging people not to vote? That may affect whether people vote rather than the content of the vote.
"People should be aware that if they tweeted on election day to influence how somebody votes they will be breaching the [Electoral] Act and the [Electoral] Commission will take action."
He said while people could leave websites with campaign material up on election day, they could not add further material or advertise the website.
"For a long time, the law has allowed for campaign-free election days, and my sense is that New Zealanders like it that way and so it's not really in people's interest to do things like tweet and breach the rules."
The sites would be monitored on November 26, and people caught breaking the rules could face fines of $20,000, Mr Peden said.
What's worst about the rule? New Zealand no longer has bragging rights over Canada, where regulations prohibit the publishing of election results from eastern Canada before polls close in the West.