Does this sound like an election that is safe from fraud?

Does this sound like an election that is safe from fraud?

From Winston Peters

It is an outrageous attack on the right to vote in our democracy that hundreds of rural voting booths are being closed or restricted on Election Day. Booths being closed stopping people from having access to vote on October 14 should see the Chief Electoral Officer sacked immediately. Before the Prime Minister goes in eight days time he should explain why he allowed this to happen. The Electoral Commission’s single job is to ensure a “fair election”. So what are they doing for their bloated salaries?

Election 2023: Some rural voters caught out by polling booth closures on election day

Thousands of rural voters could miss out on their right to cast a ballot in the general election next week, because hundreds of polling booths will be closed on election day.

More than 2600 polling booths are being set up across the country, 800 of which will open early, but 300 will not be open on polling day – many of them in remote locations.

Uruti resident Dawn Bendall would not be casting her vote in the Taranaki-King Country electorate on 14 October like millions of other New Zealanders.

The polling booth at Uruti School, about 45km north of New Plymouth, will instead only be open for six hours this Sunday, 8 October.

Dawn only got wind of that earlier this week.

“How do I know that it is this Sunday from 9am until 2pm is that we got a pack with the voting card and on there I went through and had a look and it told me that for us it was available then, but that’s the only communication that I know of about that.”

She reckoned many of the area’s 900 or so residents could be in the dark about the change.

“There hasn’t been a lot of communication out there.

“I would not have known at all. I thought after seeing … I just had a look through and saw this coming Sunday I’ve gotta go and vote … I just thought that was the election day.”

Whangamōmona farmer Pat Herlihy said election day at the settlement, about 60km inland from Stratford, usually involved a last-minute rush.

“If it’s real fine, we’ll all probably be rushing down about tea time just before it closes [at 6pm] or a bit earlier to vote, because we’ll be busy working, docking and stuff like that.”

Then it would be time for refreshments and a catch-up with some of the area’s 140-odd locals.

“We usually just go down to the hall, put our vote in, and then we go to the local and have a beer and go home,” Herlihy said,

But this year, there will be no dash after the farm work’s done and that beer will have to be over lunch.

The Whangamōmona Hall polling booth is only open this Saturday, 7 October, between 9am and 3pm.

Herlihy reckoned that might catch a few people out.

“I think a lot of people will be confused because they’ll think ‘we’ll go and vote today’ and go ‘why is there no voting? Oh that was last week’.”

Huiakama School is about 20 minutes’ drive out of Stratford.

Principal Carmen Wood said typically the polling booth there would be open until 6pm on election day.

But this year, it will only be open until 1pm this Sunday, 8 October.

She reckoned that put her community at a disadvantage.

“It’s the middle of spring, it’s a really busy time of year [on farms] and I know mornings in particular are very, very busy, so I think, it’s a bit rough for my community.

“I think not everyone will be able to make it within those hours and I mean the expectation that they would drive half an hour plus into town to one of the other polling booths that are open on other days is a little unfair.”

Wood said the change had not been well advertised and the school had been encouraged to push the message out to the community.

In a statement, the Electoral Commission said as in previous elections, the opening days and times of polling booths could vary across voting places.

“What times and days an individual location is open are determined by a number of factors, including the agreement with the individual location, staffing levels, and local demand.”

In most cases, it said, its staff talked with local communities about how best to provide voting service locations on days and times that suited their local area.

The Electoral Commission said it currently had a nationwide information campaign underway encouraging people to check its website to find their nearest voting location.

Additionally, EasyVote packs included advice on the nearest polling booths.

General election 2023: Unacceptable 1m Kiwis still don’t have EasyVote packs – Chris Hipkins

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has criticised the Electoral Commission for its delay in sending out EasyVote cards to some Auckland electorates in particular.

In a media release this morning, the commission said about 1.4 million of the 3.4m EasyVote packs had not yet been delivered, but they were expected to reach households within the coming days.

“While most are being delivered on schedule, a production issue has meant delays to packs in the Epsom, Mount Albert and Papakura electorates … there was a possibility that the wrong voting place list may have been included in a small number of packs for the Epsom, Mount Albert and Papakura electorates. The packs have been reprinted to ensure voters have the correct information, and will be delivered as soon as possible.”

The commission said delivery of the packs was expected to be complete by 11 or 12 October – just a few days before the 14 October election day.

People say new polling booths are being set up. How many are in areas dominated by traditional voters and how many are catering for “new” Labour/Green voters?

If the Left gets voted in with a resounding majority you’ll know.

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