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Make sure your votes count

Editorial

New Zealanders have been voting early in droves in this year’s general election. By the end of Monday

1.28 million had voted, up from 549,260 at the same stage in the 2017 election and 286,480 in 2014.

In 2017, 2.6 million New Zealanders or 79 percent of eligible voters cast their votes — up from 77 percent in the 2014 election.

Not surprisingly, non-voting was skewed towards younger adults — with 30.7 percent of enrolled 18 to 24-year-olds not voting, only beaten by 25 to 29-year-olds, 32.4 percent of whom didn’t vote. After that every five-year age group progressively had a better turnout through to 65 to 69-year-olds, among whom only 11.8 percent didn’t vote; those aged 70-plus had a slightly lower turnout, with 13.7 percent not voting.

Overall voter turnout was similar in the East Coast electorate at 78 percent, but young adults here were even less likely to vote than elsewhere — 40.3 percent of our enrolled 18 to 24-year-olds didn’t vote, while 35.8 percent of 25 to 30-year-olds did not vote.

Voter turnout in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat, which includes the Tairawhiti, was 67.6 percent.

This year we are not just voting for an electorate MP and the party we prefer, we are also asked to make a choice in two referendums on topics that have divided public and parliamentarian opinion for years — euthanasia and cannabis legalisation — with many New Zealanders hotly debating the merits and otherwise of both sides of these referendum decisions over recent weeks and months.

The End of Life Choice referendum is a binding vote on whether the End of Life Choice Act 2019 should come into force, giving people with a terminal illness and less than six months to live the option of requesting assisted dying. The Act will come into force if more than 50 percent of voters in the referendum vote “Yes”.

The cannabis legalisation and control referendum gives the public the opportunity to vote on whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal, based on the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. If more than 50 percent of people vote “Yes”, the incoming government can introduce a bill to Parliament that would legalise cannabis — a process that would include the opportunity for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on how the law might work. If more than 50 percent vote “No”, recreational cannabis will remain illegal, as is the current law.

To learn more visit:

www.referendums.govt.nz