Triennial school board elections 2022

Triennial elections for school boards are being moved to later next year and will include provision for electronic voting. The elections will now be held between 5 September and 23 September 2022.

It has been a difficult year for schools with students, teachers and whānau affected. Moving the elections through to later in the year will reduce pressure in the early part of 2022.

It also may make it easier to conduct elections as changes will be made to the regulations to enable an electronic option. The existing paper-based voting papers will continue to be available.

Consultation took place earlier this year on a range of proposed changes to the regulations and there was strong support to allow elections to be conducted through electronic channels. The aim of enabling an electronic election option is to increase voter participation and improved accessibility.

Moving the election date to September will also affect the term of office for some board members who may be asked to stay on for longer.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) will continue to be available to support school boards and returning officers, with governance matters and in the lead up to the 2022 triennial elections.

If you have a question or concern about any election process at your school, please contact the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) for support: electionsadvice@nzsta.org.nz.

Roadmap for enabling electronic elections

The following table sets out the key milestones in the roadmap for enabling electronic elections.

Key milestones

Timing

Gazetting of new election date

28 October 2021

Public consultation on draft exposure of the Regulations to enable electronic elections

Early 2022

Regulations gazetted and come into force  

May/June 2022

New election date gazetted

End of October 2021

Election processes start

Tuesday 14 June 2022 (long timetable)

Monday 4 July 2022 (short timetable)

Elections take place

5-23 September 2022

Changes we are making now to enable electronic elections

Time extensions for 2022 triennial school board elections – why the delay?

We recognise that it has been a challenging year for schools with impacts on students, staff and whānau. By delaying the elections to September, school communities will have one less thing on their plate in the first half of 2022 and help to increase participation in the elections.

The delay also enables us to make proposed changes to the election regulations to enable an electronic election option which may make it easier for some schools who choose to take up this option. Public consultation mid-way through this year generated strong support for electronic elections. They were considered more inclusive with a potential to increase participation. The existing paper-based voting papers will continue to be available.

To enable an electronic option will require a notice in the Gazette and an amendment to the Education (Board Elections) Regulations 2000. Consultation will occur in early 2022 on an exposure draft of the Regulations – an important factor to ensure schools, boards, staff, students, whānau and communities have their say.

How secure are electronic elections and will my name and how I voted be discoverable?

The regulations are to be amended to ensure electronic elections are safe and secure while being accessible and verifiable. We will be publicly consulting on the proposed regulations to ensure we have got them right.

Will schools and individuals be able to vote using the current paper-based system?

Yes. Schools will be able to use the current paper-based process if they wish. Voters who do not wish to vote electronically will also be able to vote using a paper-based system.

What about the other changes that you publicly consulted on mid-way through this year – what changes are you making?

These changes to the school board election framework are still being considered, including hui-based elections as well as other modernising changes. These changes are an important part of the effort to ensure that board elections better suit the needs of school communities.

These changes involve both amendments to the Education and Training Act 2020 and the Education (Board Election) Regulations 2000. We are working to have these changes in place before the next mid-term elections.

Impacts on schools, board members and returning officers

How will sitting members be affected by extending the election cycle?

Board members are elected to serve until the new board takes office. This means current board members would remain in office until after the September elections. Some board members are co-opted or appointed on a fixed term. They can be co-opted or appointed again until the new board takes office, or the board can choose to operate without them.

What does this mean for the mid-term elections?

Under the Education and Training Act 2020, mid-term elections must be held 18 months after the triennial elections. This means the next mid-term elections must be held in March 2024.

The election process would begin in December 2023, or January 2024, before the schools open and school rolls are finalised. We understand this is inconvenient for schools and returning officers, so we are currently considering options for how elections processes can happen at a more convenient time as well as the impact on the length of a board person serving.  

Are triennial elections always going to be in September in future years?

There is no requirement for triennial elections to be held in the month of September. The triennial elections must be held every three years but there is no fixed time of the year.

Will student representative elections still happen in September?

Elected student representatives provide an important voice on school boards. Student representative elections take place annually in September. The delay of the triennial elections means that schools will be able to hold their triennial and student elections at the same time. The amended September date for the triennial elections will raise further awareness of the school board elections and all new elected members will start at the same time.

What does this mean for schools with alternative constitutions?

Schools with alternative constitutions may have different election processes. Changes to the regulations to allow electronic voting may allow some of these schools a choice on how they run their election. These changes will not force schools with alternative constitutions to change their election systems. Because of the time it takes to amend alternative constitutions, these schools may not (not) be able to hold an election electronically next year.

Will boards and returning officers receive training and support in using a new system?

The New Zealand School Trustee Association (NZSTA) is contracted to provide election training and support to schools and returning officers. We are working with the NZSTA to help them develop training and support for electronic elections. They will be able to help schools and returning officers to implement electronic elections, if they choose to do so.

Public consultation and working with NZSTA on enabling electronic elections

Will I have a say in the shape of the final framework?

The framework is currently being designed and will be considered by Cabinet by the end of 2021. We will be seeking Cabinet’s approval to publicly consult on a draft of the regulations in early 2022.This will be the opportunity for people to give their views on the proposed approach and to suggest changes.

How is the Ministry working with NZSTA?

The Ministry has been working closely with the NZSTA on how to best support boards with the introduction of electronic elections. We will continue to work together on this as we seek Cabinet decisions and publicly consult on the draft regulations.

We will continue to work with NZSTA on elections processes and deliverables to ensure board elections are implemented and operate smoothly in time for elections in September 2022.

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