Board elections regulations - changes

Updated regulations for school board elections came into force on 1 September 2020. 

The changed processes apply to all types of elections, including by-elections. 

When boards appoint a returning officer to run their next election or by-election, they should make sure the returning officer registers and can access information and advice about the correct processes to follow. 

The changes are detailed in the amendment at the beginning of the online Returning officers’ Handbook 2022 and Beyond, which is available to download here. 

Key change – a new 63-day timetable 

Elections run to a 63-day timetable. This includes all elections, including by-elections, for a parent, staff or student vacancy. 

To calculate the election day and other key dates correctly boards need to use the online Election Planner Tool. 


  • the timetable cannot be shortened, and the 37-day timeframe can no longer be used 
  • the voting process is still carried out by post. The longer timeframe was implemented to minimise the risk of any postal delays
  • to fill a casual vacancy for a parent representative, there is now no longer a requirement that this must be done within 6 weeks or by the 15th Friday (although it is still in the legislation). The requirement is to hold a by-election, which is a 63-day process, or to fill the vacancy by using the selection process

Other changes 

  • the notice calling for nominations no longer needs to be published in the local newspaper (but it still can be). E.g. it can now be placed on the school website or sent out in the school newsletter 
  • nomination materials no longer need to be personally delivered or posted (but they still can be). E.g. they can now be emailed out 
  • there are changes to the vote invalidation rules: voting forms are now no longer invalid for the reason they were not returned in the envelope supplied. They are also not deemed invalid if there are two sets of voting papers in one envelope 
  • the election results (voting or non-voting) no longer need to be published in the local newspaper (but they still can be). It is up to the board to decide how best to communicate with their school communities and their wider community. E.g. the results can now be announced via the school newsletter, school website, school facebook page, whānau hui, and community noticeboard.

Useful Links 

For further advice please contact the Advisory and Support Centre on 0800 782 435, option 1 or email 

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