17 Aug 2020

Election 2020: Voters give poll date move the tick of approval

6:07 pm on 17 August 2020

Voters across the country have largely welcomed the new October election date, saying the delay was inevitable.

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Mark Rawson says the election needs to be "done and dusted" in as short a time as possible. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the change less than a week after raising the Covid-19 alert levels across the country to deal with the Auckland outbreak.

In the midst of their two-week lockdown, some Aucklanders in Māngere were happy to hear they had more time before the election.

Fuaal Seve said the four-week delay was a good move.

"People might not be able to go to vote because a lot of people are ageing and there's a risk," she said. "It's a good idea."

James Ball said politicians needed more time to showcase their policies after months of everyone being bombarded with Covid-19 news.

"It's a good thing that all the politicians have a bit more time to come up with what they'd like New Zealand to look like in the future."

The brother of former prime minister Sir Bill English, Thomas Dermot English, said the delay had to happen.

"There's constitutional constructions ... you can't push it too far back and if you have it soon, especially in Auckland, no-one gets a chance to have their say when they're standing for Parliament. It's a good in-between," he said.

In Christchurch, the prime minister's announcement drew some surprise.

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Jacinda Ardern's announcement has mostly been praised around the country although one Christchurch voter wanted the election in September. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Louise Wilson had hoped for a different outcome.

"I just thought well, you know, keep the date. There's no biggie really, but it's just campaigning which costs lots of money so I would have been happy to for it to stay in September."

But it was a decision that Carol Chinpoy expected.

"Well, actually not surprised because there's so much focus on Covid at the moment so it would be crazy trying to vote for anyone really."

Andy Larkin said four weeks arguably wasn't long enough - he'd like it pushed back until at least November.

"I'd be talking at least two months until we can hopefully get the ramifications of Covid behind us and people can concentrate on what the parties have to offer."

He said he understood the government had to balance the economy with the health and safety of the nation.

Further south in Dunedin, most people spoken to by RNZ supported the move.

"With the coronavirus and everything, yep, I think it's a good idea," Darrell said.

Cameron didn't mind when the election was if he could still vote.

"I mean I guess as long as there's legal precedent for it. I mean it is extraordinary circumstances I guess with an epidemic going on. As long as they have an election, I'm ok with it."

Ardern has committed to no more election date changes - a move Warrington resident Gareth didn't agree with.

"The politicians should have one month of electioneering before the actual vote," he said.

"It would be totally wrong to be in the level 3 or 2 or whatever, and prevent the politicians going out and about to get their votes in."

In Nelson, central city businessman Tim Babbage said the decision wasn't rocket science.

"You can't have an election in the middle of a pandemic. People have to be able to go out and vote."

The head of the Nelson Economic Development Agency, Mark Rawson, said the delay was sensible.

"Obviously there is a lot of uncertainty and that's not going to be solved in the next six to 12 months. It is quite important though that we get this done and dusted in as short a time period as possible so that the business community have some level of certainty to deal with in the next couple of years, which are going to be pretty tough."

Advance voting will start on 3 October before election day on 17 October.

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