The Electoral Commission is monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and how it might affect the 2020 General Election and referendums. We will be guided by the advice of the Ministry of Health.
An announcement was made by the Prime Minister in January that the election would be held on 19 September. The Electoral Commission is continuing with its preparations to deliver the election and two referendums on that date and is looking at additional measures that can be put in place for voters and election workers.
The sorts of things we are planning for are:
- the measures in place at voting places and for mobile voting teams in the community
- alternative ways to vote for people who can’t get to a voting place
- how we undertake recruitment and training of staff, and
- the supply of goods needed for the election.
Ways people can vote
There are already other ways people can vote if they can’t get to a voting place. We will assess whether these alternative voting methods can be offered to more voters.
The other ways people can vote are:
- Arrangements can be made to pick up and return voting papers from a voting place on someone else’s behalf
- Overseas voters can use an online service to download and upload their voting papers. The service could be extended to those who need it most in New Zealand, but could not be rolled out on a large scale
- Telephone dictation voting is available for people who are blind, partially blind or have a physical disability that means they cannot mark their voting paper without assistance. This service could also be extended in a targeted way
- Postal voting is an option being looked at by the Commission.
Could the election date change?
There are three ways the date could be changed.
The Prime Minister is responsible for setting the election date and could choose to change it. The last possible date for an election in 2020 is 21 November.
Parliament could change the law to extend the term of Parliament. This would require a 75% majority.
The Chief Electoral Officer has some emergency powers under the Electoral Act to adjourn election day voting. This could be for an initial period of up to 3 days and then one or more subsequent periods of up to 7 days at a time.
We’ll keep people updated
We will tell people if any changes are made to voting in the election and referendums on our website, social media channels, and in our election advertising.
Enrol, check or update your enrolment details now. If you are enrolled, you will receive information about the election and referendums in the mail. You’ll also get an EasyVote card which makes voting easier.
Our offices are closed because of the current alert level for COVID-19. We are working remotely and will respond to your enquiries.