Last week Winston Peters announced he wasn't standing in an electorate, to focus on winning party votes.
Unfortunately, the New Zealand First constitution requires every candidate to stand in an electorate.
In fact, Rule 46b of their constitution specifically states: A List candidate must first be selected as an Electorate candidate.
Kiwiblog and Whale Oil picked up on this problem and when a journalist asked Winston Peters about their constitution he claimed it had been changed in 2008.
Everyone else seemed happy to leave it there, but I wasn't.
I checked the Electoral Commission's website, and guess what, the old constitution was still listed there.
So I wrote to the Electoral Commission, on behalf of ACT on Campus, and asked the following questions:
1) Are you aware of a change to the New Zealand First constitution?
2) Has any updated version of the NZF constitution been submitted to the electoral commission?
3) If no change has been made to the NZF constitution, what is the punishment for NZF breaching its own constitution at this election?
4) If a change has been made to the NZF constitution, but if this change has not been submitted to the electoral commission, what is the punishment for NZF for failing to provide the new constitution to the electoral commission?
I received a reply stating that an updated copy of the New Zealand First constitution was provided to the Electoral Commission on the 2nd of November 2011 and that:
"Section 71B of the Electoral Act 1993 provides that a copy of the party and candidate selection rules are to be supplied to the Electoral Commission within one month of the date on which the rules are adopted by the party. However, Part 4 of the Electoral Act does not provide any penalty for a party that does not provide the rules within this timeframe."
It seems Winston Peters just can't help himself from breaking the Electoral Act.