Electoral Commission Enquiry

So a quick follow up on the fact one of the team was questioned by the Electoral Commission on a possible advertising breach.

After responding, the latest communication back from the commission is It was deemed “not in the public interest” to refer the alleged breach to the police.

The commission has left the door ajar for future enquiries should it feel the necessity.

Here is the definition in law as to what constitutes an Election Advertisement.

(1) In this Act, election advertisement-
(a) means an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to do either or both of the following:
(i) to vote, or not to vote, for a type of candidate described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the candidate is stated):
(ii)to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not, held or taken (whether or not the name of the party is stated);
and
(b)includes—
(i) a candidate advertisement; and
(ii) a party advertisement.

The info brought to our attention from the commission is as follows.

“Section 204F of the Act allows a person to publish or cause or permit to be published an election advertisement provided a promoter statement is included in the advertisement. Where an advertisement is published in a visual form, the promoter statement must be clearly displayed in the advertisement, for example ‘Promoted or authorised by [name of promoter], [relevant street address]’. Section 204H of the Act requires any person publishing a party advertisement to have the written authorisation of that party’s party secretary.

“So if we relate this to the MAGA cap – it would seem that if anyone who purchased a hat and then chose to wear it in the election period would have required to have included on the hat, the name and address of the person who published the “ad.” This would need to be clearly visible on the cap. This is the Producer statement which is required by law.

further to this the commission also brought to our attention.

“It is an illegal practice to wilfully contravene the promoter statement requirements. The Act requires the Electoral Commission to refer breaches to the Police unless the Commission considers that “the offence is so inconsequential that there is no public interest in reporting those facts to the Police”. “

it seems that the fact that Labour won by a landslide wasn’t lost with this last statement. If it was the intention for the MAGA cap to swing the election away from Arderns Labour – lets face it, it didn’t do very well.

And for everyone with a MAGA hat out there, please take notice of the following warning next time there is an election.

“In addition, the election day rules prohibit (before 7pm) exhibiting in or in view of any public place, publishing or distributing any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any voter as to the candidate or party for whom they should or should not vote. Accordingly, if the hats were worn in public on election day, or within 10 metres of an advance voting place, this may breach the Electoral Act.

“Safe to say if you wore your MAGA cap when you voted you are now a criminal.

It would seem that there are some valid questions this raises.

1. Is a MAGA cap an election Advertisement?

2. There are provisions in law for things not to be classified as an election ad which has a number of tests. But included in this list of tests is – does it fall into the definition of an election ad, as worded above.

3. At what point does a statement go from being novelty humour to obvious influence?

4. is wearing a MAGA cap without a producer statement (even if it was deemed an election ad) worth the time and effort to prosecute?

Any way Planet Bee’s, wear your hats cautiously, if Labour loses next time we may all have some serious questions to answer about the statement “MAKE ARDERN GO AWAY”

In the meantime, we get to watch her nod her head for the next 3 years. Its quite nice this little political break we are having.

Soon they will be back at it and so will we.

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