The electoral enrolment of immigrants is important for effective democracy. Electoral rolls also provide useful administrative data on the age, regional distribution, and intercensal movements of the eligible voting population. An understanding of the enrolment patterns of recent immigrants provides information on the political integration of a section of the permanent resident population, and the electoral roll’s coverage of this group.
This paper presents findings on the political participation of recent immigrants to New Zealand, with a focus on their level of electoral enrolment. It uses data from the Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand (LisNZ), which asked panel participants who remained at wave 3 whether they were on the electoral roll and had voted.
The overall electoral enrolment rate of participants was compared with that of the total New Zealand population, and their profiles examined to identify those characteristics associated with enrolment. Survey regression analysis was used to identify variables that were significantly related to electoral enrolment.
Recent immigrants were considerably less likely to be enrolled than members of the total population, with 11.6 percent not enrolled after three years of permanent residence. The factors most significant for enrolment were region of origin, New Zealand citizenship, and overall satisfaction. Also significant were application category, marital status, and home ownership.
With non-citizen permanent residents having full voting rights in New Zealand, and an annual target of some 45,000 new approvals, the under-enrolment of recent immigrants shows that the numbers do not add up and there needs to be further focus on increasing the political integration of recent immigrants to New Zealand.