Heather Roy

14 September 2017

“Vote early, vote often” always gets a laugh – though the “often” part gets one or two people into trouble most elections. Kiwis are voting early in greater numbers than ever before.  Easy for those who have decided and convenient for those who won’t be able to cast their vote on election day but harder for those who haven’t yet decided. At the time of writing just over 154,000 people have cast their vote.

Many look to the polls to see how the landscape is shaping up before making a final decision and less than two weeks out the polls are coming thick and fast. The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had National 10% ahead two days ago; tonight’s 1 News Colmar Brunton poll has Labour 4 percentage points ahead. The Green and NZ First polling has seen them both drop from around 15 % a couple of weeks ago to just above the five percent threshold now. The Maori Party, ACT and TOP are all within the margin of error. This campaign has been far from dull and people are definitely engaged, even the traditionally aloof 18 – 24 year olds. Promises have been made by all and sundry, but there are too many questions around accurate costings and affordability of many policies.

The only certainty is that it is a very close race, though even they can have a runaway horse as the finish line comes into focus. Right now Labour has more friends to form a government with, but it is possible for National to form a government in some scenarios. If ever there was an election where every vote counts, it is this one.

I’m out of the country on holiday next week, having wrongly predicted in February that National would call an early election and booked some time away. So yesterday, I cast my vote early.  I’m not worried about knowing how things shape up next week ahead of election day because I voted for the party I think has taken the most responsible stance – that isn’t going to change. I’ll miss the argy bargy of the final week of the campaign – and am quite pleased about that! I am sorry however that I will miss the election night counting of the votes and unfolding of what our new government options will be.

Election outcome predictions can be fraught and mine only extend as far as this:

  1. The 10 – 15% of undecided voters will decide the final outcome.
  2. If the 18-24 year old demographic gathers itself together, young people enrol to vote and then follow through by actually voting they will decide the government – but motivating this group is unlikely.
  3. Voter apathy prevents us from having a truly representative government.

So … vote early, vote on election day, just vote (but not often).