Queenstown voters queue to get their vote in early

by Lauren Pattemore - Oct 02, 2023

There was a queue of early voters by 10am today at the Atheneum Hall in Arrowtown, one of a number of polling stations to open across the Southland electorate with the General Election twelve days away.

Crus also popped in at Frankton's St Margaret's Presbyterian Church, where more Queenstowners had turned up to place their pick for parliament on the ballot today – the first day of voting. 

Numbers were steady at the church, with more than 20 people coming through between 11am and midday.

While some still prefer the buzz of Election Day, and will wait to have their say, more and more Kiwis are choosing to get in earlier.

Chatting with voters today, many expressed a feeling of ‘wanting to get it done’ as their motivation for the early polling station visit, and the Electoral Commission told media this morning advanced voting is on the rise. 

Last election, more people opted to voted early than on the day. 

Newshub reported the numbers; in 2014, 29 percent of people voted in advance, going up to 47 percent in 2017, then to 68 percent in 2020.

Outside St Margaret’s Church this morning, two individuals told Crux they were heading off to Australia this week and ticking voting off their pre-departure checklist.

However, despite casting their vote early, the general sentiment at the station was it had been tricky to know which boxes to tick on the ballot.

One person told Crux it had not been “an easy decision”; another that it had been a “hard choice…because no one’s very good”.

Some were easier decided, however, with one voter saying she had found it “easy to pick”, describing herself as someone who follows politics very closely, having read up on policy announcements.

She’s “hoping there’ll be a change” this election.

Queenstown sits within the Southland electorate, generally seen as a safe National seat, with a largely rural population base.

However, last election, it was tight for Queenstown voters when it came to settling on a local MP - with Labour candidate Jon Mitchell and National's Joseph Mooney head to head - and when looking at results from individual polling centres in the area there were some surprises.

Labour's Mr Mitchell proved more popular than National's Mr Mooney at some Queenstown centres, with votes cast in three advanced voting centres in Queenstown totalling 319 to Mr Mitchell, and 205 to Mr Mooney.

For votes cast on Election Day at two Queenstown central polling stations, Mr Mitchell was ahead of Mr Mooney by 56 votes. 

However, Mr Mooney was more popular in Arrowtown, in both advanced voting and on the day, as well as at the three polling locations set up in Frankton on Election Day. 

Combining all these votes from Queenstown areas and Arrowtown, National's Mr Mooney was still Queenstown's pick for MP over Labour's Mr Mitchell, securing 2,404 votes to Mr Mitchell's 2,126. 

Meanwhile Labour secured party vote wins in every South Island electorate in 2020, the first time it had happened since the MMP voting system was adopted for the 1996 General Election.

There was a rush to vote as doors opened at an Arrowtown early polling booth this morning.

Mr Mooney posted to Facebook today to say he’s already voted “two ticks blue” at St Margret’s this morning.

RNZ reported this morning party Leaders Chris Luxon of National Party and the Green’s James Shaw have already voted, however, Labour’s Chris Hipkins has been self-isolating for five days, announcing today he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Cromwell and Wānaka voters sit within the Waitaki electorate, which come October 14 will have a new representative in Wellington, with long-time National MP Jacqui Dean retiring.

The Electoral Commission has put information on opening hours and locations for all polling stations on an interactive map to help voters find a place close to them to have their say.  

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