Wellington: The New Zealand Electoral Commission announced security measures on Tuesday, aiming to allow a national election in September as planned despite the threat of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the date of the September 19 election in January, before the scale of the global spread was not obvious, and repeatedly said that she did not intend to shake.
Since New Zealand will end the seven-week blockade in the next few days, the Electoral Commission said it has discussed with the health authorities how to vote safely.
It said: “Due to COVID-19, this year’s election will be different, and a series of measures will be taken to ensure people’s safety.”
Chief election officer Alicia Wright said these measures include queuing management, physical evacuation, manual sterilizers with ballot boxes, and protective equipment for staffing the polling stations.
Encourage early voting and postal voting, especially for the elderly and those with health conditions.
The guidelines do not cover other electoral activities, such as election campaigns, party gatherings and door-to-door canvassing activities, all of which may be significantly affected.
Arden said that when dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, she just considered that the election was “over.”
She told reporters on Tuesday: “In terms of days, weeks and months, the election feels like a lifetime.”
“As you might imagine in a global pandemic, this is not something I haven’t thought of yet.”
Before the pandemic spread to New Zealand, polls conducted earlier this year showed that Arden ’s centre-left Labor Party was slightly behind the Conservative Nationalist Party, but is expected to achieve a slight victory with the help of alliance partners.
Since then, the 39-year-old leader has won global acclaim for his decisive coronavirus response. The country ’s 5 million people have recorded only 21 deaths.
There was no formal opinion poll during the New Zealand blockade, but the findings of the Labor Party polling agency UMR leaked Ardern ’s party to decline, gaining 29% support from the KMT 55%.
It brings Arden’s preferred prime minister’s approval rating to 65%.
New Zealand will hold a general election on September 19 to achieve a referendum on the legalization and euthanasia of cannabis.