Saturday, September 23, 2017

The voting is done

A post shared by arthur_amerinz (@arthur_amerinz) on

Today was, of course, Election Day in New Zealand, and the polls have just closed. As we wait for the votes to be counted, we don’t yet know what the total voter turnout was, but we do know that the Advance Voting turnout was heavy. That’s a good thing.

I did my civic duty today and voted this morning not far from our house. In fact, I walked to the Polling Place, which I haven’t done in decades. I found it a bit physically challenging, but considering it was the longest walk I’ve taken since we moved in back in February, the fact I survived is encouraging—but I think I need to build up the distance I walk a little more slowly.

My Polling Place was in a tiny local church, and while I’m not a fan of Polling Places being in churches, it was kind of nice to see the inside of this one, which is nicer inside than the non-descript exterior promised. The good news is, the building didn’t collapse when I walked in.

There was a pretty good turnout when I was there: All the voting stations were occupied, the officials checking in voters were both busy most of the time, and I saw small groups (they looked like families) going to vote together. I warmed my ol’ democratic (in this case, a lower case “d”) heart to see it—even if I suspect they may have cancelled out my vote a few times over.

The Advance Voting story is fantastic. According to the Electoral Commission, a total of 1,240,740 votes were cast in the Advance Voting period this year, as opposed to 717,579 in 2014, and 334,558 in 2011. Clearly New Zealand voters like Advance Voting, but is this a sign of something more, of a very large turnout? We’ll know soon.

Final enrolment statistics show that 91.1% of all eligible New Zealanders were registered to vote, but the least-registered age group is still 18-24 year olds (69.83%), though that number is up about five points from only three days earlier. Is this further evidence of a “youthquake” in action? Interestingly, the most-registered age group is my own: 98.75% of eligible 55-59 year olds are registered. Registering to vote is mandatory in New Zealand, though voting itself is not.

Facebook told me this last night, just after my profile photo reverted to its apolitical normality.

As I said yesterday, I was trying to obey the law regarding online activity on Election Day, but today I saw for myself how downright silly the law is. I was on Twitter and I got suggestions of “Who To Follow”, and they included NZ politicians and a political party. I saw “In Case You Missed It” Tweets that were expressly partisan—and quite old (19 hours or more, well before the midnight deadline). Add to that seemingly random partisan Tweets that seemed to be showing up just because someone I follow had liked the Tweet at some point. For all I know, the dearth of political Tweets today may have led Twitter’s algorithmics to fill in the gaps with Tweets about the stuff I was seeing and Tweeting up until yesterday. In any case, those Tweets would be illegal if posted today, but they weren’t, yet I saw them anyway. That’s just shows how dumb that 1993, pre-Internet law truly is.

Even so, I saw people go out of their way to avoid posting anything partisan today, and a few trying to get as close to the boundary as possible, usually in a joking way. That was kind of entertaining.

But the main word for today, especially after voting, was patience. Waiting was all we could do—that and keep our opinions to ourselves. Actually, come to think of it, thats not actually such a bad thing…

The photo up top is my—perfectly legal—“I voted” selfie. The Electoral Commission actually encourages such selfies, but, weirdly, the Electoral Commission’s official Facebook Page was taken offline. That meant one couldn’t access their “I Voted” overlay for one’s profile photo, something they encouraged people to use. My guess is that they were doing what they suggested others do: Take their page down on election day. In their case, it wasn’t what they posted—they’re non-partisan—but what others may have posted. If Facebook allowed page admins to turn off commenting that wouldn’t be necessary, but they don’t.

At any rate, that’s this year’s election done. Now the other waiting—to see who will form government—begins.

Today's "Google Doodle" in New Zealand.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I was a scrutineer (similar to what we called a "poll watcher" in Illinois) one year (1999, I think) in a church. It was the most hours I'd spent in a church since I was a little kid. The building and I both survived.

rogerogreen said...

I do understand people's resistance to voting in churches. MY church is a polling place, though I vote in a library.