Mark it in your diary – New Zealand will go to the polls on 23 September. That Saturday has been the most widely-picked date, and will take place almost three years to the day since the 2014 election. Before he resigned as Prime Minister, John Key dropped hints about a September election. Bill English has stuck to that timetable. To go much earlier would have opened the party up to criticism it was panicking, and that it feared Mr English could not hold, or attract, the attention of voters for that many months. He will want to give himself as much time as possible to settle in as Prime Minister, and have as many photo opportunities as possible with world leaders at international events, all of which helps build the “prime ministerial” image.
Articles about voting issues in New Zealand.
Local body election time is over for another three years, and even before polls closed, there were laments over low turnout. A low turnout undermines the legitimacy of the winners and can point to wider problems: disillusionment with democratic processes, institutions and actors. It is also problematic because some groups are less likely to vote than others, and so candidates appeal to the interests of those who vote over those who don’t. Older people and home owners are more likely to vote in local body elections, which may explain the prevalence of ‘controlling rates’ as a campaign slogan. In the lead up to the 2016 local body elections, a trial of electronic voting was proposed and was some way towards implementation before being abandoned, because of security concerns. A number of commentators have argued the online voting will help turn around declining local body election turnouts, but I want to argue this is not necessarily the solution to the problem. I ask two simple questions: will the proposed solution solve the problem, and what new problems will it create? Not only should the solution work, but, when balancing all effects, it should be worthwhile.
The online voting trial for this year’s local body elections are not going ahead, the Government has announced. Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston says there is more work to be done to ensure a trial of online voting meets public and government expectations. “Public confidence in local elections is fundamentally important. Given real concerns about security and vote integrity, it is too early for a trial,” says Upston. “Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results,” she explains.
New Zealand’s online voting trial, slated for local government elections this year, has collapsed with the national government scrapping the plan. Associate minister for local government Louise Upton yesterday sent a statement to Radio NZ saying they couldn’t “meet legislative requirements” in time for the elections. Last November, the NZ government published a requirements document that stated the local governments involved in the trial had to get independent assurance that their proposed solutions meet both national and local government technical requirements, including the security and accuracy of the system.
Two councils that signed up to trial online voting at this year’s elections are disappointed at the Government’s decision to can it. Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston says more work needs to be done and there are “real concerns” about security and vote integrity. “Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results. “Security testing has been planned but has not yet occurred. Without seeing the results of testing, we cannot be confident the systems are secure enough and the trial could not be authorised.”
Online voting trials are looking increasingly unlikely to take place at October’s local body elections in Palmerston North, Whanganui and six other centres. The Department of Internal Affairs will only say a decision is expected to be announced “shortly”. But at least one Palmerston North City councillor is concerned that with six months to go, time is running out. The council has set aside $100,000 in the budget included in its proposed Annual Plan that is out for consultation. Cr Aleisha Rutherford, who pushed for Palmerston North to sign up for the online trial, said councillors were telling residents who asked in discussions about the Annual Plan that it was “highly unlikely” the money would be spent.
New Zealand has voted to keep its traditional flag in a snub to the prime minister, John Key. Preliminary results announced at 8.30pm local time on Thursday showed that 1,200,003 (56.6%) of voters wanted to keep the Union flag-centred emblem. Only 915,008 (43.2%) opted for the proposed new design by Kyle Lockwood featuring a silver fern. The results of the referendum, which is estimated to have cost NZ$26m (£12m), are expected be confirmed next Wednesday. The long-serving and popular Key had strongly supported the flag change but it was not enough to win a majority, with many suspicious of him trying to use the issue to build a legacy. However, he said after the results were announced that New Zealanders should embrace the current flag and “more importantly, be proud of it”.
New Zealand: NZ First calls for Hindi flag votes to be nullified, after translation differs | Stuff.co.nz
A slight change in the Hindi translation of flag referendum instructions is “misleading”, claim NZ First. Therefore, party leader Winston Peters has called for all votes from Hindi-speaking people to be nullified. The pamphlet titled ‘How to vote’ accompanies the ballot papers, and sets out the first step in English: “Tick the flag you want to be the New Zealand flag”. However, the Hindi translation reads: “Tick the flag you want to be the new New Zealand flag” – the word ‘new’ had been inserted.
There’s nothing sinister in the layout of the second flag referendum voting paper, despite a conspiracy theory circulating the internet, the Electoral Commission says. It’s a simple piece of paper with a very important question: “What is your choice for the New Zealand flag?” and has the alternative blue and black silver fern flag placed above the current flag. Posts on social media have criticised the placement of the flags, claiming it could give the Kyle Lockwood-designed flag an advantage and making it more likely people will tick its box. But the Electoral Commission says the order of the flags was determined by a random draw as required by the Flag Referendums Act and was witnessed by a district court judge.
New Zealanders began voting Thursday on whether to adopt a new flag, in a referendum Prime Minister John Key has called a once-in-a-generation chance to ditch Britain’s Union Jack from the national banner. After 18 months of heated debate, Kiwis must choose between an existing flag that Key insists is a colonial relic and an alternative silver fern design critics label “an ugly beach towel”. About three million ballot papers are being distributed in the South Pacific nation of 4.5 million people for the vote, conducted only by post, which closes on March 24. The result will be binding and John Burrows, the head of a panel overseeing the referendum, said New Zealanders would have to live with their choice far into the future. “Whatever the decision, this flag will fly for generations to come,” he said.