GOVERNMENT – PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
Second Ballot System (1908–13)
The second ballot, or absolute majority system, was an experiment introduced into New Zealand electoral legislation in 1908. Under the provisions of the Second Ballot Act of that year, no parliamentary candidate could be elected unless he had received a majority of all votes cast in his constituency. Where the leading candidate did not possess such a majority on the first ballot, the legislation provided that there should be a second ballot, held seven days later to decide which of the two leading candidates would represent the constituency in Parliament. After the 1908 General Election second ballots took place in 23 constituencies, when 15 of the leading candidates were elected and eight were defeated. After the 1911 General Election 30 second ballots were required, when 25 of the leading candidates were elected and five were defeated. The system was abolished in 1913 because it was found that it did not work equitably under the party system.
The provisions governing the second ballot applied only to the 76 European constituencies and not to the four Maori constituencies.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.