The Electoral Commission is investigating a photo posted to social media by the Green party’s London branch this week.
The Kiwi Greens UK posted to its Facebook and Twitter accounts a photo of an unofficial exit poll showing the party votes of 111 people.
The photos have since been removed.
On Facebook the caption accompanying the photo read, “The Greens came out top in our unofficial exit poll! We asked 111 people leaving NZ House who they voted for and ****% voted for the Greens! Maybe the overseas vote will swing it this election…..”
This is in breach of the Electoral Act.
When contacted about the breach by The Record, chief electoral officer Robert Peden said the commission would look into it.
By law, no one can conduct a public opinion poll of anyone who has voted before the polls close on election day.
The Green party’s national campaign director Ben Youdan said it was an unofficial poll conducted by excited green voters.
“It’s just an enthusiastic member talking to others and we have reminded them of the law.”
Youdan said he had reminded them that they cannot do polls.
“But they weren’t carrying out an official poll. They were just chatting to other kiwis who were planning to vote.”
The post itself said it was an exit poll, where they had asked people who they voted for as they left New Zealand house – the New Zealand embassy – in London.
In a statement, Peden said, “it is an offence to conduct a public opinion poll of persons who have voted (otherwise known as “exit polls”), both on election day or during advance voting.”
When Youdan was asked whether he knew that Metiria Turei had liked the post on Facebook, he said “of course she did, [the results of the poll are] excellent news… and are consistent with what we’ve been hearing throughout the election.”
Breaching the Electoral Act in this way could carry a fine of up to $20,000.
_By Michael Cropp