Wellington, September 17, 2020
Up to 5000 people in managed isolation or quarantine will be able to vote by telephone in the general election and referendums following a recent amendment to electoral regulations.
Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said that the Electoral Commission sought the amendment after concluding dictation voting was the simplest way to collect votes from people in the country’s 32 managed isolation facilities.
“We looked at a range of options, but all of them involved more contact with individuals in isolation because of Covid-19. Dictation voting neatly avoids any contact risks,” she said.
Prior to the enforcement of the Electoral Amendment Regulations (No 4) 2020 on September 7, 2020, dictation voting could be offered only to the blind, people in remote locations overseas, and those physically unable to mark voting papers.
Ms Wright said that about 6000 people are typically in managed isolation or quarantine facilities at any one time, but the Commission is planning on providing the service to 5000, on the basis that about 20% are likely to be either children or otherwise ineligible to vote.
“The Commission will use existing staff and resources to provide the expanded dictation service, which will be available from October 5, 2020 till the end of voting on election day. Registration and voting hours will be between 9am and 7pm every day except election day. On election day, registrations will close at 5pm and voting at 7pm,” she said.
The Commission will provide interpreters for those who do not speak English and make individual arrangements for those who have a speech disability.
Travellers without a mobile phone will be able to use a landline in their room.