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Vote 2020 starts today

Voting in the general election starts today, but for most it begins on Saturday. PHOTO/ELECTORAL COMMISSION

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From today, more than 600 Wairarapa folk living overseas will begin to cast their votes in the New Zealand General Election.

There are 682 voters enrolled on the general roll and 534 on the Maori roll [for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat]. Like all other New Zealanders they have until 7pm, October 17, New Zealand time
to vote.

Overseas voters can use the ‘download and upload service’ to receive and return their voting papers. There are 88 overseas voting places with 22 fully open to the public for in-person voting. The other places are just to get voting papers and to receive postal votes.

Significant covid-19 issues overseas have had an affect this time around.

Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said in this setting the easiest and safest way to vote from overseas was to get voting papers from www.vote.nz and to return them by upload to the website.

“In 2017 more than two-thirds of overseas voters used the online service,” Wright said. “There won’t be as many overseas voting places open to the public as usual, which reflects what is happening overseas with covid-19.

“The situation is different in each country and we need to follow local guidance to keep voters and staff safe.”

Telephone dictation voting also opens today for people who are blind, partially blind or have a physical disability which means they cannot mark their voting paper without help.

Voting opens to everyone from 9am next Saturday.

Wairarapa general election returning officer Philip Parkes was pleased with enrolment numbers so far and expects more people will enrol at the same time they vote. Parkes, who is leading the local enrolment drive, said the work had achieved a 5.1 per cent increase in enrolments.

“My community liaison Ben Chait has done a great job in gaining enrolments to date, both new enrolments and address updates,” Parkes said.

“Our overall percentage before our campaign started from a base of around 88 per cent enrolled and now stands at 93.1 per cent enrolled.”

As of Monday, Wairarapa residents 35 years and over had gone above the 90 per cent enrolled figure with the 30-34 age group at 89.9 per cent as of yesterday. Ninety-five per cent of voters over 55 were enrolled.

The Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat covers a large area from the bottom of Wairarapa up to and including Gisborne. So far there are 35,757 voters on the Maori roll for the seat. But voter turnout historically is nearly 20 per cent less than the number of Maori enrolled.

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