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Election 08: Anatomy of $25 million enterprise

Nov 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

NEW Zealand law places a high value on the right to vote – even the boss can’t complain if you dash out on Saturday to cast your vote.

As the years of preparation, costing taxpayers at least $25 million, wind up to the big day on Saturday November 8, workers don’t have to miss out.

If they’re unable to vote on election day before starting their shift, they must be allowed to leave no later than 3pm to go to the polling booths – with no docking of pay.

Anyone working on election day can also vote in the two weeks prior to the election and be counted in “special votes”.

Advance voting began on Wednesday October 22 and closes on Friday November 7 at 6pm.

For the majority of Kiwis, voting on Saturday November 8, organisers recommend using the “easy vote” card sent in the mail. Presenting this fast-tracks people through the booths.

Some people will qualify as special voters: they may be able to vote even if they are not on the electoral roll, for example. Those outside their electorate on the day can turn up at any booth and ask for a special vote.

About 2,700 polling booths will be set up in venues such as schools and churches throughout the country.

Parties and candidates may appoint scrutineers who watch the issuing of ballot papers to voters. They also watch election staff count the votes to ensure the rules are followed and there is no cheating and no mistakes. 

The ballot papers are counted twice – once to count candidate votes and then to count party votes.

The advance votes are counted in secure conditions between 3pm and 7pm on election day.

Booth managers phone in their counts to electorate headquarters, where they are inputted into a vote-recording computer system.

Preliminary results are released progressively from 7pm on

The Chief Electoral Office is targeting:

• 8.30pm – all advance vote results
• 10.00pm – results from 50% of polling places
• 11.30pm – results from 100% of polling places.

So how long before the system goes electronic? The Chief Electoral Office has prepared a draft of possible options for a pilot, and these will be discussed after the 2008 general election.

The electronic voting system available in the United States works via a touch-screen machine that has a memory chip with a removable memory card. Problems have included unreadable memory cards, machine malfunctions and software flaws.

PICTURE: Architect Ben Keegan with easy vote card at the ready.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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