1 Oct 2020

Voting naked on Everest: how to vote from overseas

From The House , 11:41 am on 1 October 2020

A few elections ago I was traipsing around northern Spain during New Zealand’s election season but was determined to vote regardless. 

The process involved a bit of planning, some local stamps and a good idea of the speed of international mail. It wasn’t too onerous but the best thing about it was the spectacular post box slot where we posted the ballots - a golden lion’s maw. 

Lion headed mail boxes from Basque Spain

Would you trust your vote to one of these hungry monsters? Photo: Sayurta / CC BY-SA

Whether it enjoyed munching up our ballots or they arrived home and were counted is still a mystery. 

These days it is a cinch by comparison.

There’s no longer any guess work or crossing fingers, and you can vote as late as anyone in New Zealand, even in your jim-jams.

You can even enrol or update your enrolment online from anywhere. 

And with Covid that’s all particularly useful because many of the physical locations where you can vote in person overseas may be less accessible than usual - the Electoral Commission is keeping their accessibility list up to date to help.

A quick how-to

There are more details for all voting methods at vote.co.nz but here’s a quick run down on overseas voting. The process is not much more complicated than voting in New Zealand. 

  • You download your voting ballots using your personal details.
  • You print them out (trees be damned, the law requires you make a physical mark to vote).   
  • You sign a statutory declaration that you are you, etc.
  • You have that declaration witnessed (even any other Kiwi or family member can do this), or other official-types.
  • You vote as per usual. (The person witnessing your declaration doesn’t see your vote.)
  • You upload your vote online (or at least a photo or scan of it - just use your smart phone). 

You then salute your civic-minded wonder, sing our dreadful national anthem, enjoy a strong cup of tea and cross your fingers for your favourite candidates.

Also, if you like old school methods, or are totally off-line you can also fax your ballots to +64 4 494 2300 (quaint eh?), or even mail them back to one of the international voting locations. 

A note on eligibility 

Not every New Zealander is allowed to vote from overseas.

  • You must be 18 (just like at home).
  • You must have spent a period of 12 continuous months in Aotearoa at some time in your life.
  • And you must have returned home some time in the last three years (for citizens) or one year (for permanent residents).

Australians, Niueans, Tokelauans, and Cook Islanders are all allowed to vote if they’re 18 and have lived in New Zealand for 12 continuous months. 

Also, people working for the New Zealand government overseas (military, diplomatic, etc) can stay away for longer and remain eligible.

So, yes you can vote in your jim-jams, or even naked if you really want, but don’t try that on Everest or it will be the last thing you do.