NEWS18 August 2020

New Zealand election delayed for a month

Asia Pacific Covid-19 News Public Sector

NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand has postponed its general election for one month due to a new outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland.


The election was planned for 19th September, but the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday ( 17th August) that it has been moved to 17th October.

“The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date. This short delay gives the commission more time to prepare including freeing up facilities for early voting during school holidays,” Ardern said.

“Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays,” she added.

The Auckland region was placed under stricter restrictions – alert level 3 – last Wednesday after new cases were identified in the city. All other regions in New Zealand are currently at alert level 2.

Ardern said the virus will be “with us for some time to come” and that repeatedly delaying the election would not lessen the risk of disruption. “This is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3. I will not change the election date again,” Ardern said.

The Electoral Commission said measures on election day will include contact tracing, hand sanitiser and physical distancing in voting places. It is also planning to have more voting places open and longer voting times to reduce queues.

Alicia Wright, chief electoral officer, said: “Confirmation of the date provides certainty to the public about when the election will be held. We have been considering alternative election dates and are confident we can revise our existing arrangements for 17th October.”