National MP Michael Woodhouse suggested that rather than using emergency powers the commission was exercising “the dramatic expansion of what was a rare exception to a postal vote option that could see a million or more people voting by post”.
Dr Smith questioned how the commission will decide who is eligible for postal voting, such as how it will verify that the person conducting the vote is indeed the person that would present themselves at a polling booth.
Wright said the commission is “working through the criteria now”. She said people will have to say why they want to vote remotely, but they will not have to present medical certificates or documentation.
“You’re ultimately saying that you will not decline a person that registers for postal voting, which is effectively saying all voters have a right to a postal vote if they chose to register,” Dr Smith said.
Wright said while the pool of potential candidates could be quite large, the commission anticipates that “most New Zealanders will continue to vote in voting places”.
What’s going to change on Election Day?
The Election Day will proceed on Saturday, 19 September – the date Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced back in January.
The Electoral Commission is working towards having up to 850 voting places open during the whole of the advanced voting period, and expects that number to double on the weekend before the election, and then reaching 2500 on Election Day.
When you go into a voting place, you’ll need to use hand sanitizer, and queues will be managed to maintain physical distancing, just as people do now when they go to the supermarket.
Voters will be asked to bring their own pen but there will be some available.
People at high-risk of COVID-19 – someone who is older or who has a medical condition – will be able to choose to vote via post.
People who go into isolation during the voting period will be able to use another alternative way of voting, takeaway voting, where papers are delivered and picked up by election staff.