Up Front by Emma Hart

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The Surprisingly Sincere Up Front Guide to Voting Part 2: Everything Else

This is my second column about voting: the first, on advance voting, is here. Please note that I’m only talking about voting, not politics. Some of you are probably going to ask questions I simply can’t answer because of the restrictions while I’m working the voting period. Please also note, as if it’s not obvious, that any views expressed here are personal and not those of the Electoral Commission. Or at least, not those it can admit to in public while I’m not plying it with martinis.

These questions are all things I have previously been asked, or have seen people ask. To be fair, there are other, odder questions I’ve been asked about voting, and you can get those out of me by plying me with martinis.

Can I vote if I don’t have my EasyVote card?

Yes.

Do I need ID to vote?

No. No. No you do not.

Are you sure?

*screams into a pillow*

I’ve voted heaps of times and I don’t have any questions, so I can completely ignore this, right?

Here’s what’s new this time around. You will be asked to state your full name, aloud. This is a legal requirement. If you refuse to do so, the Issuing Officer will send you to the polling place manager for a talking-to and a spanking. Okay, a form. And you’ll have to cast a special vote. I personally completely understand that this will make some people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. We should probably take it up with whoever it was who made the legal challenge that led to this change.

Where can I vote?

You can cast an ordinary vote at any polling place in your electorate. Some booths near electorate borders also do normal votes for multiple electorates. The booth I work in, for instance, is in Port Hills/Te Tai Tonga, but also takes ordinary votes for Christchurch East and Christchurch Central. Go here, select your electorate, and scroll down past the advance booths to find out where you can vote.

You can, of course, vote at any polling booth, but if it doesn’t hold the roll for your electorate, you’ll have to cast a special vote.

Who can I vote for?

Any person or party that’s on your ballot paper. That will include every party that’s contesting the election.

Are you sure? Because a dude said-

*smashing noise*

What if I make a mistake on my ballot paper?

If you have, say, ticked the wrong box, tick all the boxes, and then take the paper back to the person who issued it to you. They know what to do.

But. We will count any paper on which the voter’s intention is clear, no matter what else is written or drawn on it.

I thought drawing on a ballot paper spoiled it.

*sound of liquid pouring into a glass*

Listen. Last election someone had drawn a massive love heart on their ballot paper, with the name of a party in the middle of it. Because they had also neatly ticked two boxes, we counted that vote.

I’m living overseas and I want to vote. Where do I even start?

Go you. You rock. This is way too complex for me to into here. You go into it here. Overseas voting is already open.

What if I’m disabled or have mobility problems?

There is a telephone dictation service for the blind so they can vote anonymously from home. This has already opened. Instructions in NZSL are here. We have sit-down tables in polling places – if you can stand up to vote, please try to leave these for people who can’t. If you are in a rest home or hospital, someone should come to you to get your votes. You can have someone in the polling place to assist you, but they can’t vote for you or tell you how to vote.

Why can’t I take selfies in the polling place? It’s fun!

Largely, because you might catch someone else in the background, and it might not be fun for them. So maybe wait til you get your sticker, go outside, stick it on your pet or child, take a photo of that, and don’t be such a fucking dick.

What can scrutineers do?

They have to wear those little rosettes so you know they’re scrutineers. They’re largely there to watch the staff, not the voters. They’re allowed to write down anything we say aloud. They’re not allowed to touch anything on our desks. And, like the guards outside Buckingham Palace, they’re not allowed to speak to you. No matter what. Sayin’.

What can I do to make voting easier?

READ THE FUCKING SIGNS.

No, seriously. Read the fucking signs. Make sure you go to the right desk to start with. Listen to the issuing officer when they give you the instructions, no matter how many times you’ve voted before. This vastly increases your chances of putting your ballot paper in the right fucking ballot box. If we didn’t have to keep redirecting people, everyone would get to vote more quickly. If we didn’t have to spend half an hour sorting votes into their correct electorates and rescuing ballot papers from the Special Votes box, the count would be in faster at the end of the night. And I personally would probably drink less gin when I get home.

If there is a problem with your enrolment, it is absolutely in no way the fault of the person in front of you. That person is basically working a fourteen-hour day for a shiny nickel and a warm feeling of well-being, so maybe don’t yell at them?

Overall, though, issuing votes is an absolute joy. Yay Democracy and shit. Come vote. It’ll be great.

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