2 Oct 2023

Election 2023: Early voting opens

6:00 am on 2 October 2023
A sign points the way to a voting booth during the Hamilton West by-election. (November 2022)

File photo. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Early voting is opening today and hundreds of polling booths will be available for people to start casting their votes from 9am.

It comes as Labour's campaign is turned on its head with leader Chris Hipkins isolating with Covid-19.

Organisers of Tuesday's Press Leaders debate in Christchurch are scrambling to keep the high-profile election event on track.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is voting on Monday in his Botany electorate and is encouraging others to crack into it as well.

"Whenever people want to, but I'd encourage them to vote early. I'd start going on Monday. We've got a lot of work to do, we want to change this government, get this country sorted and moved around".

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said people should vote as soon as they could, even if they are not registered yet.

"My main message is, you don't even have to be registered. You can just rock up to a polling booth, register, and vote at the same time."

These voters are planning to follow the advice.

One woman told RNZ: "I think I really know [who] I want to vote for already so it's easier to do it before the day".

Another said: "It's Ellesmere Show Day on the 14th of October and it's a big day where I come from in Christchurch, so I'll be doing it beforehand".

About 400 voting sites open today and that number gradually increases until election day when 2300 sites will be available.

Electoral Commission chief executive Karl Le Quesne said there would be some new voting places this year.

"Eleven of The Warehouse stores will have voting places and nine Foodstuffs supermarkets. We've also got 44 marae, kōhanga, wānanga, and kura; 15 of those will also be able to offer voting services in te reo Māori."

He said two in three people voted early in the 2020 election and that was expected to go up slightly this time around.

"I think it is convenient for people. It allows people to plan the voting around what they need to be doing".

But some New Zealanders want to hold off voting until election day, on Saturday, 14 October.

One man told RNZ: "I'm going to vote but just on the day."

A woman said she had voted on election day every year since she started voting. "I tend to do it with family because it can turn into a nice outing."

"I'll do it on election day because I've still got some thinking to do," another woman said.

After a Covid-19 diagnosis, Labour leader Chris Hipkins will be off the campaign trail for a few days but he had this advice for voters.

"If people have really made up their mind, of course they should vote. But if you're sitting there thinking I'm not quite sure yet, I've still got some nagging doubts in my mind, then do wait because there is still another two weeks of campaigning to go."

He said high numbers of early votes in 2020 could be put down to the pandemic.

"Last election was a bit of an aberration. There were reasons why people were going to go out early because they were worried something might happen and they might not be able to vote at all. This election will be a little bit different to that one. I think there are a lot of undecided voters out there still."

For more information on early voting, look for an EasyVote pack in the letterbox which will have information about the candidates and how to vote.

Or go online to vote.nz to find polling booths and when they are open, or enrol to vote.

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