© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented elections

Digby Werthmuller

Voting booths could become a thing of the past with Covid-19 potentially changing the way voters get their votes in on election day.

The Electoral Committee is working on how they can adapt current voting options to best fit a Covid-19 impacted election.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in January the general election would take place on September 19.

MP for Christchurch Central, Duncan Webb, said a later election, if necessary, would have no particular impact for MP's and parties.

Webb said if voting was unable to be conducted safely, that could be a critical factor for the Electoral Commission.

This would likely see the Electoral Commission advise a new date, to ensure a fair election.

The Committee are currently reviewing the options below and how best to make them more accessible for voters on a wide-scale effect:

  • Arrangements to pick up and return voting papers from a voting place on someone else’s behalf
  • Overseas voters can use an online service to download and upload their voting papers. The service could be extended to those who need it most in New Zealand, but could not be rolled out on a large scale
  • Telephone dictation voting is available for people who are blind, partially blind or have a physical disability that means they cannot mark their voting paper without assistance. This service could also be extended in a targeted way
  • Postal voting is an option being looked at by the Commission.