Saturday, October 14, 2023

Election Day 2023 has ended

It’s just past 7pm, and the polls have closed, ending the voting in New Zealand’s 2023 General Election. It was the most negative election campaign I’ve ever seen in New Zealand, and I’m not sorry to see that end. Until the votes are counted, we obviously won’t know who will form government, and even then we may not know for days, weeks—maybe even longer. I’ll have more to say about the election tomorrow, but for right now, I’d like to share a few things I found along the way.

The graphic above is NZ’s Google Doodle for today (with my mouse paused over it). Clicking on it took people to a page with information about the election. There’s nothing unusual about that—I’m sure they do the same thing in lots of places. It also wasn’t unusual that Facebook published a shareable animated graphic for Election Day, with a link to the Electoral Commission’s “Vote NZ” website, where people could get official information on how to vote, where to vote, etc. The whole thing was authorised by the Electoral Commission, which is important.

At 3pm today, the Electoral Commission released the final tally of the Advance Voting period, which ended yesterday. The official statistics are always interesting to me, ol’ political science major and politics nerd that I am, but I was particularly interested in this graph:

The chart show the number of votes cast daily on equivalent dates in 2017, 2020, and this year (at the link, the graphs show daily totals when users hover their mouse over a data point). All the daily total data is downloadable as a CSV spreadsheet (and yes, I downloaded it), too. The main thing I wanted to know is how 2023 compared with 2017, and it turns out I was right: 2023 ended up with more Advance Votes cast that in 2017, as I said was likely. Specifically, there were 1,376,366 Advance Votes this year, as compared to 1,240,740 in 2017—I know that 135,626 more votes this year than 2017 may not sound like much, but it’s more than the number of votes on several days this year. Of course, nothing compares to the 1,976,996 Advance Votes cast in 2020, but that was during the Covid Era, which has a lot to do with the high totals that year.

The official voter turnout in total may not be announced tonight—it’ll depend on how the counting goes, among other things—but I think the grand total may also be greater than 2017, though not as high as 2020. That matters because the higher the number of votes cast usually means an increased chance that a Centre-Left government will be formed.

Finally, I also saw that one of the far-right parties pandering the loons, goons, and cartoons (the one run by an extremist, far-right fundamentalist preacher) was apparently campaigning on Twitter today, which is illegal (absolutely NO campaigning is permitted on election day, and all election signs had to be taken down before midnight last night). The Electoral Commission took note of that and then the Twitter account of the political party disappeared from Twitter. I laughed heartily at that, and thought yet again how they frequently earn their sarcastic nickname, “freedumb NZ”.

The only big problem today was that for awhile the electronic version of the electoral roll wasn’t available. It’s used to look up the details of voters who don’t have their Easy Vote Card, and for folks who don’t know their electorate. It was still possible to vote, but the process was slowed down. The system was back up and running reasonably quickly.

And now we wait for the counting to be completed.

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