24 Aug 2017

Surge in voter enrolments as printed roll date lapses

10:20 am on 24 August 2017

Up to 5000 people a day are enrolling to vote, with enrolments tracking slightly ahead of the 2014 election, the Electoral Commission says.

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Photo: New Zealand Electoral Commission

There had been a surge in the number of people enrolling to vote in the general election over the last two weeks, the chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said.

"They've doubled ... this week we're getting 4000 to 5000 enrolments a day. We're expecting that to go up to 6000 to 7000 a day in the next couple of weeks."

Yesterday was the final day to enrol on the printed electoral roll. From today people can still enrol up until midnight of 22 September - the day before the election - but will have to a cast a special vote.

Last week, the Commission said 450,000 eligible voters had not yet enrolled, with half of those under the age of 30.

In 2014, 92 percent of the 3.5 million people who were eligible to vote enrolled. But almost a million people did not cast their vote.

Some 81 percent of those not enrolled were under the age of 40.

An update on how many young voters had enrolled would be known next week, Alicia Wright said.

Victoria University political scientist Bryce Edwards picked that there would be a turnaround in voter engagement this election.

Voter engagement had been in decline for decades, especially among the young, but the "Jacinda Effect" could reverse that, he said.

"Suddenly there is a leader of a major political party that seems to resonate with the wider public and especially with youth."

Issues such as poverty, inequality, housing and transport were "waking up" voters, he said.

"For the first time, I think we might be seeing a big reversal of the decline of politics in New Zealand," Dr Edwards said.

Electoral Commission figures showed there were nearly 461,000 people aged 18 to 24 who were eligible to vote, but only 63 percent of them had enrolled as of 31 July.

It is the second-largest voting bloc, after the over 70s.

Young Labour president Matt van Wijk said hundreds of young people had signed up to volunteer since Jacinda Ardern became Labour leader.

Young Nats could not be reached for comment.

Youth engagement organisation RockEnrol co-founder Laura O'Connell Rapira said younger people were becoming more aware and open to political issues this election.

It was "heartening" to see parties on all sides of the spectrum announcing policies that appealed to youth, she said.