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The Second Ballot Act 1908 was an electoral system in place from 1908 to 1913 in New Zealand. It applied to elections to the House of Representatives. It was used in the 1908 and 1911 general elections, and a number of by-elections.[1] It was introduced by the Liberal Government under Joseph Ward, who feared that the emergence of the Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) would split the vote on the political left and thus be beneficial to the conservative opposition, who in 1909 formed the Reform Party. Ward expected that this electoral mechanism would result in all second ballots to be between Liberal and conservative (Reform) candidates. In the Wellington East electorate, however, two Liberal candidates received similar votes and both were eliminated in the first ballot. This left the Labour candidate, David McLaren, face a conservative candidate and with many liberal voters transferring their allegiance to McLaren, he became the only candidate of the IPLL who was ever elected to the House of Representatives.[2]

The Second Ballot Act applied to general electorates only, and not to the four Maori constituencies.[1]

The following by-elections were held using the Second Ballot Act:

Electorate and by-election Date Incumbent Cause Winner
Thames 1909 4 February James McGowan Appointed to Legislative Council Edmund Taylor
Rangitikei 1909 16 September Arthur Remington Death Robert Smith
Auckland East 1910 16 June Frederick Baume Death Arthur Myers
Christchurch North 1911 17 August Tommy Taylor Death Leonard Isitt
Egmont 1912 17 September Thomas Mackenzie Resignation Charles Wilkinson
Grey 1913[3] 17 & 24 July Arthur Guinness Death Paddy Webb
Lyttelton 1913[4] 9 & 16 December George Laurenson Death James McCombs


  1. ^ a b Foster, Bernard John (22 April 2009). A. H. McLintock (ed.). Second Ballot System (1908–13). Wellington: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 August 2013. Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  2. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1980). Labour's path to political independence: The Origins and Establishment of the New Zealand Labour Party, 1900–19. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-19-647986-X.
  3. ^ "Declaration of Result of Poll and Notification of Second Ballot". Grey River Argus. 24 July 1913. p. 1. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Mr McCombs Returned". Northern Advocate. 17 December 1913. p. 4. Retrieved 13 August 2011.