Home NZ Politics Be very afraid over voting date

Be very afraid over voting date

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Voting is an essential service too. Why NZ can’t be afraid to go to the polls

By Grant Duncan, Massey University

If New Zealand can do grocery shopping under lockdown, we can vote under lockdown too.

As much as supermarkets and pharmacies, the general election is an essential service and it must continue. There are ways and means to safely exercise our democratic rights during lockdown.

The prime minister left it open at her press conference on Wednesday as to whether the election (currently scheduled for September 19) might be delayed and, if so, to what future date.

While such a move is legally possible, it only defers the uncertainty about public safety at the polls. No one can predict whether one month later, for example, will be more or less safe than the scheduled date, or indeed any other reasonable date.

Democracy delayed is democracy denied
The dissolution of the 52nd Parliament was deferred at the last moment on Wednesday until the following Monday.

No later than seven days after dissolution, the governor-general issues the writ for the next election, including its date. This is all done on the advice of the prime minister, by long-established convention.

Under emergency circumstances, it may be wise for the prime minister to consult leaders of other parties about the election date – but this is not mandatory.

National Party leader Judith Collins has already accused the prime minister of a “lack of transparency” over the date. Collins called for a late November election, or even pushing it out to next year.

It would be a shame if any of the parties used such a basic democratic procedural right for political football or electoral advantage. An opposition, for example, may prefer a later date largely to give them more time to campaign – not from concern for voters’ health.

Similarly, a government might prefer to rush an election for the same kind of reason. The loser may be the democratic system.

It’s time to commit a date
This isn’t to say there should be no delay – only that we need not regard lockdown as a barrier to voting. Set a date within the legal limit and get on with it. But don’t let political advantage be a deciding factor.

As for politicians being able to campaign or hold meetings, perhaps they could learn to work online like the rest of us have had to during successive lockdowns.

The election itself belongs to the voters, not the candidates. It is run by an independent, non-political public agency, the Electoral Commission. We should not listen to political jockeys arguing over when to open the gates.

Furthermore, in 2020, political leaders should be cautious about being seen to take their cue from Donald Trump desperately calling for a delayed election – even though, in his case, the US Constitution puts the matter in the hands of Congress.

The Electoral Commission has already planned for safe voting. It has booked in more and larger voting venues than before to allow for social distancing. Hand sanitisers will be available.

The chief electoral officer can temporarily suspend voting at polling stations due to “an unforeseen or unavoidable disruption”, including an epidemic.

We should be confident in the system
Early voting is due to begin on September 5. On past experience, about half of us will vote this way and avoid polling day altogether.

At any election there are systems in place for people who can’t vote in person due to age, illness or disability. The demand for such services this time may well increase for those who are immuno-compromised and wary of contact with the public. So, those services may need to be boosted for this election, regardless of its date.

It is also possible to apply for postal voting. Why not have drive-in voting booths for people who wish to minimise contact with others? If we can operate drive-through covid-19 testing facilities, we can surely adapt the concept for democracy.

The Electoral Commission is politically neutral and has had rates of positive feedback about the conduct of past elections that would be the envy of most corporates – or indeed governments.

We should have confidence in the commission and the process. The show must go on!

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27 COMMENTS

  1. TBH I have no confidence in the government at all, nor any of their departments. I have always been a bit on the cynical side, but this whole debacle has really let the cynic in me take over. Every government department has people on the take, every politician on the left and some on the right of left are on the take. It’s a shame but there you go its been (definitely not bin) proven I was right in my thinking. I don’t think I am a conspiracy theorist but cynic yep sure am.

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  2. I don’t need to be convinced by electioneering politicians who to vote for because I’ve lived through the last three years of this debacle of a government.

    I KNOW WHO I’M VOTING FOR. I made up my mind over two years ago.

    Party Vote ACT 2020 ☑️

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    • WG – Strategic Party vote ACT and Candidate vote National has major benefits – National retain, even win more seats and more seats for ACT provide more sensible policies for Govt led by National.

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      • That’s my plan freethinker. Spreading the word with friends and family.

        Party vote Act 2020 ☑️
        National electorate 2020 ☑️

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    • That’s what Leftards want. They want a one-party state: democracy always fails when a non-Leftard party wins.

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      • Colinxy,
        You are 100% correct.
        The danger of a (Pandemic Cabinet )is huge, leading as it does to a one party state.
        NZs MMP system with 50% of parliamentary representation appointed ensures that not only is a one party state possible.now it is probable.
        Wellington would be Beijing.

        We do need to be afraid very afraid.

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        • Totally agree with CO and Falcon and the fact that an academic does not see this is an indictment on the Universities or it shows he is a card carrying member of the Labour Party. Probably both.

          The NZH ran a poll on whether people think the election should be delayed. Hosking reported that
          60 % overall said yes but surprise, surprise in Wellington most said no.

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  3. Well that’s as clear as mud.

    Duncan Garner: PM Jacinda Ardern has no other option than to delay election
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/08/duncan-garner-pm-jacinda-ardern-has-no-other-option-than-to-delay-election.html

    Party leaders have been screaming at the referee saying ‘unfair’, unfair because they can’t campaign.

    The longer she leaves it the more time there is for the economy to collapse, for people to be laid off, for COVID-19 to sneak in again. Locking us down and restrictions in our daily lives isn’t making Ardern more popular, and she’s smart enough to know that.

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    • Garner is wrong. Ardern does have the option to not delay the election and for precisely the reasons you outline in your last paragraph. Whether it is wise for her to refuse is another matter entirely; it could backfire on her because the population may consider it unfair no matter what the media party states.

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    • Have you thought that the Nats are trying to outsmart Cindy. Make her think they want to extend it out to November or next year, when they actually want it sooner. All liarbour had to do was protect the border, to keep us safe. They couldn’t even do that.
      With the lock down pissing off the public, I would want it ASAP.

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      • National and Act will win the election no matter when its held. I’m 100% sure of it now, especially since we do not have an epidemic, we have a casedemic. People will see through Liarbour’s trickery.

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  4. I have had quite a few downticks over time on this blog for saying “there are 120 useless bludging, troughing C- – -TS down in Wellington” , how else over the last 30 years could a once great Country become just another third world country in the making.
    We have a huge financial disaster on the horizon and no amount of Robinsons,Hipkins,Peters and Arderns saying “we’ll get through this ok” will make a difference when the shit hits the fan.
    That bunch of arseholes down there won’t know what to do when the country needs decisive leadership,bet your house on it a lot of families are doing just that.

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    • Debt is an imaginary construct and credit created out of nothing, so debt is wiped at the click of a mouse. Jubilee anyone? That’s when all debt is cancelled and we start afresh for a clean sheet. Been done before, and the sky didn’t fall in.

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  5. It is a poison chalice for National , but I want labour out!!!
    Covid Cindy and her cluster fuck of cohorts are fricken useless!
    Sooner they are out the door the better for NZ.

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  6. Grant Duncan says voting is an essential service.
    I disagree.
    It’s not a service it is the whole base of democracy.It is essential that we have free and fair elections and the way Labour are managing this election is far from fair.
    Never underestimate Labour and their ability to manipulate the voters to do what they want.
    The way things are at the present time I am sure they were using delaying tactics to extract the most advantage before the election.
    The pushback and demands to delay the date may have surprised them and I think they may now delay.Good.

    Other parties need to get their message out there regardless of who they are and they can’t do it if they are suppressed by the marxists.
    Also the Government have 14 billion to play with.

    Delay the election.

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  7. Other party leaders having their say is called D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y Jimmy!

    James Shaw accuses National, NZ First of ‘nakedly political plays’ over election date

    Green Party co-leader James Shaw says there is too much politicking from parties that want the election date pushed back.
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/james-shaw-accuses-national-nz-first-nakedly-political-plays-over-election-date

    “The thing that’s really disappointing at the moment is you’ve had a number of political parties making what I judge to be nakedly political plays in their own advantage and so I hope the Prime Minister makes her choice based on the good advice of our health officials and the Electoral Commission,” he said.

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    • Jamie old boy —we have followed the medical advice all along and look where we are, in a horrible mess. The Government are to blame because they delegated responsibility for the issue to a few academics , some who just like playing computer games (ie. modelling). To be fair I have to say most Governments did the same thing –sheep!!!

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  8. “Politicking”

    Is this where Winston Peters is making his play, for the moment not getting his way? or is he?

    Makes one wonder if a trade off, is some where in the wind so that a Labour stand down in a seat, so that NZ 1st gets it one seat & Winston in Shane’s coat tails.

    Would that mean more time to prime the pumps there too, with Shane Jones largesse of PGF money.
    Twisting the unicorn’s tail too, to top up more money as well in that electorate?

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  9. The date has been shifted to October 17. I guess that’s pragmatic otherwise the better parties could use it as fodder.

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    • Hosking said exactly that, this morning. Well done Mike —more politically astute than most of the 120 who go to Wellington now and again.

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  10. It simply had to be postponed because Winston said so.
    I have no doubt Jacinda was planning keeping the September date and working on some dodgy ‘Postal Vote’ number where our votes are collated and counted by members of Young Labour at their student flats…
    Will be very interesting now so see if Jacinda extends her lockdown games- It’s all about FEAR and CONTROL remember??

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    • If I was to make a comment it would probably be construed as racist so for the good of community cohesion I will bite my tongue.

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