26 May 2020

New Zealand 2020 election timeline: What happens and when this election year

5:30 pm on 26 May 2020

The revealing of party lists by the Greens and ACT, National's reshuffle, and some candidate announcements from Labour and the Māori Party are further indications things are gearing up ahead of the election.

A man casts his vote in the 2014 General Election (file photo)

Election day this year is 17 October Photo: 123RF

The Electoral Commission has also detailed some of the changes Covid-19 will have on this year's election, set for 17 October. 

Here's a timeline for this year's election:

Election night. Preliminary election results released progressively from 7pm. Referendum votes will not be counted on election night

  • Monday 17 August: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces new date for the election 
  • Thursday 18 August: Regulated period for election advertising expenses begins
  • Sunday 6 September: Dissolution of Parliament
  • Sunday 13 September: Writ Day - the Governor General issues formal direction to the Electoral Commission to hold the election. The writ includes the election date, deadline for nominating candidates and deadline for returning the writ with the names of winning candidates
  • Thursday 17 September noon: Deadline for registered political parties to bulk nominate their electorate candidates and provide party lists to the Electoral Commission
  • Friday 18 September noon: Deadline for individual nominations of electorate candidates to Returning Officers
  • Wednesday 30 September: Overseas voting starts
  • Saturday 3 October: Advance voting starts
  • Friday 16 October: Advance voting ends
  • Friday 16 October midnight: Regulated period ends. All election and referendum advertising must end. Signs must be taken down by midnight
  • Saturday 17 October: Election day. Preliminary results released from 7pm.
  • Friday 30 October: Preliminary referendum results will be released
  • Friday 6 November: Official results for the 2020 General Election and referendums declared
  • Thursday 12 November Last day for the return of the writ

For a limited time after an election, candidates can apply to a district court judge for a recount of the electorate vote and party secretaries can apply for a recount of the party vote in one or more electorates.

Once the seats in Parliament are filled - seats not taken by a candidate who won an electorate are filled from party lists - Parliament will be able to resume and the election cycle is over.

  • Leaders' debate: Collins and Ardern, blow by blow
  • Election 2020: How is campaigning going four weeks out from polling day?
  • Election 2020: How much can you trust the polls?