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Election elves excited

Pat Fairhall, at left, with voting place manager Doug Mende setting up a Masterton polling booth for advanced voting. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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The 350-strong team working under Wairarapa election returning officer Chris Giles are rearing to go, and glad to be finally under way.

Advance voting places were set up last week and were open from Saturday with others opening today.

“It’s been tough this year as we had voting places booked and had to rejig things when election day was moved from September 19, and we have to be covid-19 safe and aware,” Giles said.

“Many people are still anxious about the covid-19 environment, so we are keeping to the two-metre spacing and asking people to sign in or use their covid app tracer.”

Giles said the team had been debating whether the two referendum votes will bring out more or fewer voters, but the consensus was that as many people will be passionate about the referendum questions and this could bring the numbers up.

He expected voter numbers to be low for the first few days, which suited him well as it gave the team time to practise and get their efficiencies up.

“We could see over 60 per cent of voters voting before election day itself so I am preparing for a 120 per cent turnout so that no matter what, we are ready,” Giles said.

There are more voting places this year so that there are not queues to put people off. The social distancing will make any queues seem longer than they are.

Elderly people and others who would like help voting or want to have voting papers delivered to them can call the Electoral Commission number: 0800 367656.

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