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The rise and rise of advance voting
Overseas voting opens today and advance voting starts on Monday. How influential could offshore voting be and why are we still waiting for fiscal plans?
Mōrena, and welcome to The Bulletin for Wednesday, September 27 by Anna Rawhiti-Connell. Presented in partnership with Z Energy.
In today’s edition: National’s benefit sanctions policy questioned; the battle for Auckland Central; a suggested date for the end of our time on earth; but first, as advance voting becomes more popular, election day is increasingly “results day”, rather than the day the majority of New Zealanders vote
Just under two million people voted ahead on election day in 2020
Voting on election day is a tradition in some households. I still remember walking to a polling booth with my parents when they went to cast their votes on election day, and I have repeated the pattern of only voting on election day for the last eight elections. Recent trends suggest those of us who vote on the day are increasingly in the minority. According to Electoral Commission data, of the 2,894,486 people who voted in the 2020 election, 1,976,996 people voted before election day on October 17. In the 2017 election, the biggest day for advance voting was the day before election day. In 2020, it was a whole week before, on October 10. The pandemic undoubtedly got more of us to the polling booth earlier in 2020, so advance voting numbers this year should give us a more unambiguous indication of whether this is a long-term trend. The Electoral Commission begins publishing statistics on how many people have voted from next Tuesday.
‘Scandalous’ fiscal plans haven't yet been released
The NZ Herald published an editorial yesterday (paywalled) announcing the “beginning of the end” of the election campaign. Advance voting begins on Monday, October 2. I mentioned this last week, but the rise of advance voting significantly shortens the campaign runway for all parties. It’s a point being diligently raised by the media, particularly regarding Labour and National, who have yet to release their fiscal plans. Yesterday, the Herald’s Audrey Young called it “scandalous” (paywalled) that the parties haven't done so already. It makes Monday night’s Newshub poll and the 1News Verian poll tonight the last major television network polling before hundreds of thousands of people cast their votes. If you’re torn between Labour and National, the final TVNZ leaders’ debate on October 12 might be more appropriately considered an appeal to the undecided. The rise in advance voting also calls into question the logic of the election day advertising and media blackout, which is meant to prevent voters from being unduly influenced. Asked about the sense of maintaining it in 2020, Grant Robertson said it was a fair point. Australia has a different system, where blackout rules only apply to TV and radio. Australia also has compulsory voting and makes a much bigger deal of election day with the famous democracy sausages, but rules there are also regarded as ridiculous and unfair.
‘Letting Australia decide’
Speaking of Australia, a new campaign has been launched to rally the Australian vote in our election. As Tracy Lee points out on The Spinoff this morning, one million New Zealanders currently live overseas, representing 20% of New Zealand’s resident population and eligible voters. Almost 70% of New Zealand’s offshore citizens reside in Australia, which could mean up to half a million votes in the New Zealand election. Delightfully, Lee refers to Australia as New Zealand’s “West Island”, which might soften the blow of the campaign’s tongue-in-cheek message of “letting Australia decide“. Overseas voting and voting for those who need help via a telephone dictation voting service starts today.
Does more advance voting impact results?
In 2020, Claire Robinson concluded that advance voting probably benefits the traditional major parties and that the so-called minor parties benefit from late strategic voting. “Since the MMP system began, the minor party vote has been highest in the elections where the pre-election poll gap between the major parties has been widest. With last night’s gap between Labour and National remaining a whopping 15 points, it looks like the Greens and ACT will be the beneficiaries of late strategic voting, not either of the major parties.”
Finally, Paddy Gower hosts the Newshub leaders’ debate tonight, the last leader’s debate before advance voting begins. Reading this account of the 2020 Newshub debate feels like reading a history book at this point, but it’s also the debate where Ardern stepped up a notch. Gower sounds like he’s been in a state of deep preparation for a while for tonight’s debate. As always, we’ll be watching, live blogging and delivering verdicts.
Whatever happened to the streaming wars?
A pandemic made the rivalry between Netflix, Disney, Apple, Amazon and more the hottest story in business. Now two strikes have the industry at a crossroads. Read about the major players and how they’re faring in the markets, in partnership with Stake, on The Spinoff now (sponsored)
National’s benefit sanction plan criticised by expert advisory group
National released plans yesterday to introduce harsher penalties for people on Jobseeker unemployment benefits who didn’t meet their obligations to look for work. The party is proposing a traffic light system where those who breach their obligations to look for work would step through phases, with benefit cuts or suspension, money management and mandatory community work experience introduced after three sanctions. In 2019, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) established by Labour produced a report containing 42 recommendations. As the Herald’s Michael Neilson reports (paywalled), it found little evidence that sanctions were effective in encouraging people back into work, saying, “The application of obligations and sanctions in New Zealand (and elsewhere) is problematic.” Members of that group, including social policy researcher Charles Waldegrave have criticised National’s plans. Waldegrave said sanctions "humiliated" people on benefits and often meant they could not get work.
Has the chlö-mentum slowed?
Chlöe Swarbrick has a battle on her hands to retain Auckland Central, according to new poll released last night. As Toby Manhire writes, Swarbrick’s 2020 victory in the high-profile seat “was one of the most remarkable plotlines” in the 2020 election. Last night’s poll by Curia for the Taxpayers’ Union has Swarbrick on 38%, National’s Mahesh Muralidhar on 36% and Labour’s Oscar Sims trailing on 17%. Those numbers exclude the “unsure” column, however, which accounts for 29% of the 500 people polled. The poll also asked about relevant issues, with a third of respondents saying the most important issue was law and order, well ahead of public transport (10%), housing (9%) and cost of living (9%). For more on the Auckland Central hot seat, here’s Gabi Lardies’ profile of the electorate, or you can listen to the Megapod Auckland Central debate Manhire hosted last week.
Independent journalism is never more important than in an election year.
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Click and Collect
The great leadership resignation of 2023 continues as Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews resigns after nine years, wanting to go before he resents the job.
US president Joe Biden welcomed a range of Pacific leaders to the White House on Monday, including Nanaia Mahuta. China’s state-controlled media has derided it as another bid to gain influence in the region and Manasseh Sogavare, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands wasn’t there.
I am not usually a fan of the “you‘re doing xxxx wrong” genre, but this guide to phone etiquette in 2023 is genuinely helpful. An etiquette expert and people of all ages contributed.
Lovely yarn from RNZ’s Robin Martin, who spoke with newly published author Michael Kingpotiki, who could not read or write until he was in his late 50s
Click and Elect
Charlotte Muru-Lanning has a wonderful account of the young voters’ debate
A two-minute read on all the parties’ health policies
Newsroom’s Tim Murphy catalogues the historic milestones Winston Peters might tick off if he enters parliament
Am running out of hours in the day to watch all the great long-form interviews being pumped out, but I highly recommend Mihingarangi Forbes’ interview with David Seymour
Joel MacManus explains why the Wellington Central electorate is a race unlike any other. Henrietta Bollinger recounts her first experience with a sex worker in an extract from her debut collection of essays. A suburban homeowner in their 30s shares where their money goes as part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money. Stewart Sowman-Lund reports from Palmerston North, where heads butted over water reform. Toby Manhire ranks 15 of the most venomous insults exchanged by Winston Peters and David Seymour.
Black Caps beat Bangladesh by seven wickets
Related – why YouTube is actually the best live sports streaming platform
Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki returning to ASB Classic in 2024
A supercontinent and the end of mammalian life
I wasn’t expecting a definitive date for the end times yesterday, but maybe we can get into some future planning now that we have a deadline. Some of us distracted ourselves from the pandemic by eating a lot. Alexander Farnsworth, a paleoclimate scientist at the University of Bristol, used the time to build a virtual simulation of our future world. It predicts continents on earth will merge, and mammalian life will end in 250 million years. The new supercontinent, Pangea Ultima, will form along the equator 250 million years from now, and it will be too hot to support much life. Stuff’s Olivia Wannan has the New Zealand angle. Just as we are often left off maps, we are not expected to join this supercontinent. The model has New Zealand floating off the coast of Australia, bathed in a hot tropical sea, rendered effectively uninhabitable. As with all modelling, there is debate and doubt, with Farnsworth acknowledging a “controversial prediction” that the supercontinent could form around the North Pole.
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