HomeNZ PoliticsElection 2023: What you need to know before voting

Election 2023: What you need to know before voting

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Explainer – On 2 October, early voting will begin for the general election that will decide who will govern the country for the next three years. So let’s take a look at the nuts and bolts of casting a vote.

This year’s election marks 30 years since Kiwis decided in a binding referendum that they wanted the mixed member proportional (MMP) system of voting. It will also be the 10th MMP election.

Under this system, each voter gets two votes – one for a party and one for the person to represent an electorate.

The party vote is considered the most important because the total number of each party’s votes largely determines the total number of seats it will be entitled to in Parliament.

In Parliament there are typically 120 seats:

  • 72 are electorate seats and are won by candidates standing in specific areas
  • 48 are list seats and are allocated depending on the proportion of party votes won, taking into account the number of electorate seats each party has won

Under current MMP rules, a political party that wins at least one electorate seat, or 5 percent of the party vote, gets a share of the seats in Parliament.

When does voting start?

Early voting starts on Monday 2 October, and you can vote at any voting place in New Zealand.

On election day, Saturday 14 October, all voting places will be open from 9am to 7pm.

Preliminary results will be released from 7pm as soon as the polls close – you can access that information here. Media organisations including RNZ are also planning extensive coverage of the results on election day.

All up, there will be 2600 voting places around the country and the goal has been to make them easy to access.

“This election people will see voting places in and around the spaces where we all live and work, including malls and retail areas, transport hubs, marae, mosques, universities, schools, and community halls,” says the Electoral Commission’s deputy chief executive operations Anusha Guler.

If you are voting early, times and dates that voting places are open may vary. Check where voting places are and opening hours in your electorate here.

This election there will be 15 Kaupapa Māori voting places – open to everyone – with staff who can speak both te reo Māori and English. Thirty-seven voting places will be at marae.

Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will also have one place each with New Zealand Sign Language interpreters on site.

20 parties in the running

This election has 20 political parties chasing voters’ affections, including the five already in Parliament (Labour, National, the Greens, ACT and Te Pāti Māori).

There are three single-issue parties, and eight linked to Destiny Church leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki or fringe protest groups. Half of those eight registered in August.

There are also others including NZ First and Democracy New Zealand

Of course, most of the smaller parties will not be standing candidates in many electorates so voters generally must vote for one person out of around six to 10 on the ballot paper.

How your vote could pick a winner?

The current Labour government is the first since MMP was introduced in 1996 to be a single party majority government.

Who gets to become the government is basically whichever party can get a majority – more than 50 percent – of the seats, based on their party vote. If none of the parties has enough to reach more than 50 percent, they must negotiate with each other about their plans until a combination of the parties has at least 61 seats.

This can result in a coalition – where the bigger party and smaller party form a government together and come up with a complete policy plan – or a confidence and supply agreement, where the smaller parties agree to support the main governing party on specific policies.

Under confidence and supply, the smaller party does not need to support policies that fall outside the agreement.

ACT leader David Seymour has floated the idea of a confidence-only deal, which would require National to seek ACT’s backing for all government spending – or “supply” – decisions on a case-by-case basis, should the two parties have enough seats to form a government. This type of arrangement has not been tried before in the MMP era in New Zealand.

It’s essential to enrol

If you’re eligible to enrol to vote, and you live in New Zealand, then you must do so to be able to vote in the election.

It’s too late now to get onto the printed roll but you can still enrol online now or when you go to vote at any voting place in New Zealand – if you enrol early, voting will be faster.

To enrol and vote, you must:

  • be 18 years or older
  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and
  • have lived in New Zealand for 12 months or more continuously at some time in your life.

When you’re enrolling to vote, you’re considered a permanent resident if you’re in New Zealand legally and not required to leave within a specific time. This includes someone on a resident visa.

The Electoral Commission, which manages the general election, offers enrolment information in English and 27 other languages including te reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan and Hindi.

There is also help for people on enrolling in other formats, including large print, audio formats, Braille and New Zealand Sign Language.

What is the advantage of having an MMP system?

It’s a better showcase of the country’s population makeup than the first past the post (FPP) system New Zealand had for years. As Professor of Politics Richard Shaw wrote for The Conversation, “77 of the 99 members of the final FPP parliament were men, there were only eight Māori MPs, a single Pasifika MP, and no one of Asian heritage”.

He went on to say: “The current House of Representatives contains more or less equal numbers of female and male MPs, 25 Māori MPs and 18 members of Chinese, Cook Island Māori, Eritrean, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Maldivian, Mexican, Samoan, Sri Lankan and Tongan descent.”

MMP usually avoids the situation of having the party with the highest number of seats not become the government (this has happened once under MMP, in 2017, when National had 56 seats but wasn’t able to make an agreement with another party to govern).

Popular minority parties usually make it into Parliament too, in contrast to FPP where in 1981, for example, the Social Credit Party won 20.7 percent of the vote but won only two seats.

It is possible changes will be made, however, with an Electoral Commission review and a subsequent independent review making some recommendations with a final report due in November. The voting age, changing the Parliamentary term from three to four years and revised limits on political donations are among issues being looked at.

Although it is unlikely New Zealand will switch from MMP any time soon, changes could be made via a referendum or new or amended legislation.

10 COMMENTS

  1. New Zealanders should think about how much worse the situation for our country would be right now if something the scum in Wellington has been pushing for had been green lighted , a four year term of government, imagine having to endure another fricking year of Arderns cabal of wierdos.
    These pieces of shit in another year of governing would have prohibited anybody but Natives from taking their children down to the coast for a fishing expedition, another 6 special protection zones are announced in the south island that will allow for” traditional Kai gathering” ,that’s 18 in the last month,?????
    Even the wording on these agreements is being manipulated so they sound completely legitimate and non threatening to the excluded majority, FFFUUUCK.

    12

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  2. …This year’s election marks 30 years since Kiwis decided in a binding referendum that they wanted the mixed member proportional (MMP) system of voting. …

    That is a cute way of putting it
    It was foisted upon us by the Irish socialist, Bolger.
    We have no real choice.

    It was MMP or stay with FPP.
    The option to have STV was stopped as we were told it is too complicated.
    STV is used in a lot of the Australian elections – State and Federal.
    It is used by some councils in NZ.
    But is too complicated for a NZ General election.
    The big lie.
    Peter Shirtcliffe tried to warn people in the last 3 weeks but was too late against corrupt goo-mint forces.

    https://www.ecanz.gov.au/electoral-systems/voting-system
    AU systems.

    MMP
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-member_proportional_representation
    A dogs breakfast used by a dozen countries; most who adopted it, adapted it to make a dogs breakfast a bit better.
    Under the NZ system the electorate vote essentially means fuck all.
    It is merely a popularity contest.
    the party vote is IT

    some have adopted Additional; Member System
    (AMS) – MMP without levelling seats

    MMP is crap. Fuck you Bolger.

    8

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  3. Professor of Politics Richard Shaw is clearly a deranged fuckwit.
    A good place for him (or she/they) to be is a university as it keeps the critter way from normal people.
    ——————————-

    ..15 Kaupapa Māori voting places – open to everyone – with staff who can speak both te reo Māori and English. ..

    Well hell, on those grounds there should be 60 places that speak Hindi, 50 places that speak Cantonese, and 90 that speak Mandarin.
    Or if you cannee spweak Engrish you cannee votey.
    ——————-

    And if you are out of the country for more than one electoral cycle – your tax obligation identifies you are removed.
    No tax obligation, no votey . Broken residency ties, you should not be able to vote.
    This includes ladyboy humpers 🙂

    rule
    …They must be physically outside of NZ for more than 325 days in a 12-month period, whereupon they may cease NZ tax residence from the first of those days. …

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