Politics

Ardern one of 1st New Zealanders to vote in general election

(Correction: rewords par 12)

Sydney, Australia, Oct 3 (EFE).- New Zealand’s prime minister was one of the first in the country to cast a ballot in the 2020 general election on Saturday after advance voting began.

Those enrolled to vote can now do so until election day on Oct. 17.

At around 11 am, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her broadcaster fiancé Clarke Gayford visited a polling booth in Auckland where she is a candidate in the Mt Albert electorate.

“I went out to vote this morning with Clark. It’s a secret ballot of course, but I can confirm two ticks Labour,” Ardern said later in a video posted to her Facebook page.

Two ticks refers to the country’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system. Under MMP, in which the 120 seats in parliament are decided, each voter marks two decisions, or two ticks, on the ballot – one for their party of choice, and the other for the candidate they choose to represent them in their electorate.

Ardern said the advance voting “means you can go and vote safely – no lines, no queues,” making social distancing easier during the COVID-19 epidemic.

She added that hand sanitizer is used on entry to the polling stations, the booths are distanced and “everyone’s using separate pens.”

Although Ardern noted she gave “two ticks” for Labour, she did not reveal her choices in the two referendums being voted for on the same ballot paper – those of the legalization of recreational cannabis and the legalization of euthanasia.

In the past she has indicated support for the assisted dying bill, but has refused to reveal which way she will vote on cannabis legalization.

“I made a clear decision that I want the public of New Zealand to decide this, and I want this not to be about politics,” Ardern said earlier in the week at a leaders’ debate alongside National Party leader Judith Collins, although Ardern admitted to having used it in the past.

Collins said she had never tried cannabis and would vote against its legalization in the referendum.

While Ardern was encouraging New Zealanders to get out and vote, Collins was at a racecourse in Hawke’s Bay, on the North Island’s east coast, to announce National’s pledges to the $1.6 billion horse racing sector.

A Reid Research poll published by Newshub this week showed Labour with 50.1 percent support, National with 29.6 percent, and the Green party with 6.3 percent.

Another by 1News Colmar Brunton put Labour at 47 percent and National at 33 percent, followed by the Greens at 7 percent.

Both polls indicate that Labour would be just short of a majority and would need the Greens to form a coalition government.

In terms of the referendums, a Reid Research poll published by Newshub earlier in the week revealed that 50.5 percent of those consulted oppose the bill on the legalization and control of recreational cannabis, while 37.9 percent are in favor, and 10.9 percent don’t know.

In the same survey, 61.6 percent said they supported the proposed euthanasia bill, while 25.5 percent said no, and 11.9 percent said they don’t know. EFE

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