There was nearly three weeks between election day on October 14 and the Electoral Commission unveiling the final results on November 3.
Unlike the preliminary results shared on election night, the official results include special votes, made up of votes from people overseas, those not voting in their electorates, and people who enrolled on or close to election day.
The Electoral Commission has several responsibilities it must undertake between election day and revealing the official results, including checking that every special voter is enrolled and eligible to vote.
Parker said the large number of special votes – 603,257 in 2023 or 20.9 percent of the total votes – can have a “material effect” on the election outcome and should therefore be counted as quickly as possible so coalition negotiations can begin.
The three-week wait between election night and the final results was too long, he said.
“I don’t think the coalition negotiation part of it is necessarily too long, there are some complexities to work through there and that’s how democracy works. I am not criticising that,” Parker said.
“I just want to save the first three weeks of the process because if you had very few special votes on the night parties could be confident that the special votes weren’t going to materially change the number of seats allocated and accordingly, coalition negotiations could get going the next day rather than waiting for three weeks and it would all be over by now.”
The Labour MP said one way to reduce the time needed is to make sure the Electoral Roll is as up to date as it can be, cutting down on the need for people to enrol or update their details on or close to the day.
“I reckon that New Zealand should update the Electoral Roll based on the IRD database rather than having a separate Electoral Roll that sort of doesn’t talk to other databases,” he told Newshub.
“A lot of other countries in Scandinavia and Canada base their Electoral Roll on their IRD database or some other national database and it would save a hell of a lot of money, get a more accurate roll, entitle people to vote and have a quicker conclusion after the election.”
Parker, the former Revenue Minister who oversaw the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), said the main benefit of using the IRD database is that virtually every voter has an IRD number.
“All students do, obviously everyone in work, whether they’re self employed or waged or salaried, every beneficiary, everyone has an IRD number,” he said.
“The Inland Revenue Department system is very, very sophisticated, [and] was recently upgraded. That upgrade was completed in the last few years and the capacity to use the data that they now hold for export into other databases like the Electoral Roll I’m sure could be achieved.”
He said the IRD database includes the date of birth for most people.
“When people clock over the age of 18, for example, and become eligible to vote, they could be added to the Electoral Roll quite simply.”
The Electoral Commission – or even “IRD on contract to the Electoral Commission” – would still be needed for some maintenance of the roll, he said, including for example handling people wanting to change between the general and Māori roll or removing people who are ineligible to vote due to being in prison.
“Those things would still have to be done. I’m sure they could be done a lot more efficiently than they are currently,” he said.
Removing people from the roll who were in the IRD database but ineligible to vote – such as non-resident taxpayers – would be a “much smaller task”, Parker said.