Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Samoa, David Nicholson, cast the first vote for the upcoming New Zealand general election from the High Commission office in Apia yesterday, officially opening in-person overseas voting in Samoa, reports the Samoa Observer.
“Voting in the New Zealand general election is one way that New Zealanders can have their say about the issues that affect their community and what the future government will focus on,” Nicholson said.
“Having a voice and the opportunity to participate in the process of deciding who our members of parliament will be is an important foundation of our democratic society,” he added.
“Since its first election in 1853, New Zealand has always been world-leading in voting rights. All Māori men were able to vote from 1867 and all European men from 1879, regardless of their wealth or status as landowners.
“And in 1893, we became the first country in the world where women were able to vote in national elections,” Nicholson said.
“Making sure every New Zealander who is eligible and wants to vote, can — wherever they are in the world — is another example of our long history and commitment to creating fair and equitable elections.”
Two vote system
Nicholson said: “New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system means each voter actually gets two votes — one for the political party they want to see in Parliament, and one for the candidate they want to represent their electorate.
“When allocating the 120 seats in Parliament, 71 Members of Parliament are elected directly to electorate seats — 64 general and 7 Māori electorates — with the remaining number of seats filled by list MPs, based on each party’s share of the party vote.
“Basically, the proportion of votes a party gets, along with any electorate seats that it wins, will be reflected in the number of seats it gets of the total number of seats in Parliament.”
A special voting station, for in-person overseas votes, will be open during regular business hours, 8.30am to 4.30pm every weekday at the New Zealand High Commission in Apia until 4pm on Friday, 22 September 2017.
The New Zealand general election is on September 23.