A problem in the production process of the referendums brochures has resulted in the Ministry of Justice re-printing the first phase of voter communications.
In some copies of the End of Life Choice brochure, one of the answers to the question: “Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?” was printed in bold font.
Having to reprint the brochures has had an impact on the Electoral Commission’s enrolment update campaign, as the End of Life Choice referendum brochure and Cannabis referendum brochure will be included in the enrolment packs being sent to voters.
“The affected brochures were part of the Ministry of Justice’s print run in Auckland,” Secretary for Justice Andrew Kibblewhite says. “These were sent to various sites where they were packed together with the other material, including the Cannabis referendum brochure, ready to be mailed to voters. It was not feasible to identify with certainty where the affected brochures were to extract and replace only them.
“Because of this, a decision was made to destroy all 2.5 million collated enrolment update packs and the other 3 million referendum brochures. This was to prevent any affected material potentially distracting voters in their decision-making.
“Having one of the answers to the referendum question highlighted bold could unduly influence a voter one way or the other. Ensuring impartiality has been, and continues to be, the central element of our work. For this reason, we will not identify which answer was affected until after the referendum is complete. It is our job to ensure the voting public has accurate and impartial information on both referendum topics.
“We have engaged an external reviewer to investigate the production process and have worked closely and collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure the correct brochures were produced quickly and able to be posted to voters starting from 6 July.
“I’m proud of the combined effort of Ministry staff and our partners to make this happen over the past week and put things right.
“Initial estimates are that the costs of destruction and reprinting of the brochures and enrolment packs are in the order of $1 million. How these costs are met will be informed by the external review.
“I can assure everyone that the Ministry and our suppliers have implemented enhanced quality assurance and security measures since the production issue was found to prevent any further issues,” Mr Kibblewhite says.