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Privacy for agencies

Annual Report

Purpose: To compare MSD's beneficiary and student databases with the electoral roll to:

  • •identify beneficiaries and students who are qualified to vote but have not enrolled so that they may be invited to enrol
  • •update the addresses of people whose names are already on the roll.


MSD disclosure to Electoral Commission: MSD provides full name, date of birth and address of all individuals aged 17 years or older for whom new records have been created or where key data (surname, given name or address) has changed, provided these records have not been flagged as confidential.

Compliance: Compliant.

Technical information

Information matching provision Electoral Act 1993, s.263B(3)(a)
Year authorised 2002
Year commenced 2002
Match type Identifying unclaimed entitlement
Updating data

System description
The Electoral Commission uses the NZ Post Enrolment Service (ES) to operate a set of five programmes designed to identify people who are eligible to vote but are not on the electoral roll (or whose enrolment details need updating). Those who are 17 years old are invited to enrol provisionally, in anticipation of when they turn 18. These programmes are:

  • •NZTA(driver licence)/EC Unenrolled Voters Programme
  • •NZTA(vehicle registration)/EC Unenrolled Voters Programme
  • •MSD/EC Unenrolled Voters Programme (beneficiaries and students)
  • •DIA(Passports)/EC Unenrolled Voters Programme
  • •Citizenship/EC Unenrolled Voters Programme

The files received are processed together in a sequence (NZTA driver licences then NZTA vehicle registration, MSD (Benefits), Passports, MSD (Student Loans) and finally Citizenship) intended to maximise the benefits from each run.

Drivers ⇾ Vehicles ⇾ Benefits ⇾ Passports ⇾ Students ⇾ Citizenship

The process for each of the matches is essentially the same.

1. The source agency creates an encrypted file extract from its records of people aged 17 years and over who supplied their details in the period covered by the extract. Each extract includes full name, date of birth, address(es) and the date the record was last updated. This file is picked-up by ES staff.

2. ES matches each extract with the electoral database on the basis of surname, given name/s and date of birth.

3. The addresses for matched records are compared and if the addresses are the same, the records received for matching are deleted since the ES's records are, in effect, confirmed as current and no further action is needed.

4. Where the addresses differ, the 'update dates' are compared as ES need the most recent address. If the 'update date' from the source agency[1] is later than the 'update date' from the electoral roll record, and the ES does not have that address for that elector in their history, the details are saved to a correspondence file of individuals to be sent an invitation to update their details.

5. Random samples of 'possibly matched' records are examined manually to establish whether or not they should be regarded as matched. Where records appear to match, the process detailed in the previous paragraph is followed.

6. 'Not matched' records are saved to the correspondence file of individuals to be sent an invitation to enrol.

7. Before any invitation letters are generated, the correspondence file is sorted to eliminate duplicates. This internal check ensures that when a client record appears in more than one source agency file, only the first such record identified is used to generate a letter to the client. This prevents ES from sending multiple invitations to an individual. ES also maintains a record of information sent to it by the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages about deaths within the past five years. This is used to ensure that data matching correspondence is not sent to anyone who has died.

8. Records from the correspondence database are deleted when the electoral roll is updated for that elector, when ES receives notice of death or other special circumstances requiring that the person not be contacted again, or when it receives a 'gone no address' response that is not contradicted by more recent information.

The 'no response' category for these matches differs from other programmes in that no further action is taken in these matches if there is no response received. Non-response is not seen as a form of agreement and this programme requires a positive 'opt-in' response.

Recent activity

   2011/12 2012/13  2013/14  2014/15 2015/16
Match runs 4 4 3 3 3
Total records compared 659,980 640,591 565,305 534,375 353,798
Invitations to enrol/update sent out 110,081 138,485 112,770 94,294 75,584
Number presumed delivered 106,944 134,700 109,510 91,543 73,656
Enrolments (new and updated) 18,651 21,170 17,763 15,449 9,552
Percentage of letters delivered  resulting in changes 17% 16% 16% 17% 13%
No response 88,293 113,530 91,747 76,094 64,104
Costs $80,162 $100,102 $80,736 $66,517 $57,140
Average cost per enrolment $4.30 $4.73 $4.55 $4.31 $5.98

[1] The 'update date' supplied by the agency may be the last date the record was updated in any form, and does not necessarily relate to an updated address.