Voting from overseas in New Zealand's 2014 General Election

10342409_678872935500835_6073581552176092891_nElection day is Saturday 20 September.  Just because you are out of the country doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a say in this year’s general election.

The vast majority of people in this world have little or no say in who governs them.  The right to vote in free and fair elections is a rare and valuable privilege New Zealanders, whether home or abroad, should not take for granted.

A healthy democracy depends upon people taking part.  It is in everyone’s interests that we all vote, especially those of us who are overseas and want to ensure our children and grandchildren get to experience a strong, vibrant New Zealand.

The Electoral Commission wants every eligible New Zealander to enrol and vote in this year’s general election and is particularly keen to make sure those currently overseas don’t miss out on the chance to have their say.

You are eligible to vote from overseas if you’re enrolled and are a New Zealand citizen who has visited New Zealand with the last three years or a permanent resident who has visited in the last 12 months.

Now is the time to check whether you’re enrolled and your details are correct – it only takes a few minutes to check.  Do it now online at elections.org.nz and make it easier to vote.

“When it comes to enrolling and voting, we often forget how easy it is in New Zealand,” says Chief Electoral Officer, Robert Peden.

In most democracies you have to enrol at least a month before election day and in some cases much earlier.  In most democracies, including the UK and Canada, you are told which church or school hall you must turn up to on election day to vote.   If you can’t make it on the day or are overseas there might be provision for you to vote early but options are limited.  Here, you can enrol right up until the day before election day and your vote will still count.  You can vote in advance anywhere in New Zealand or from overseas from 17 days before election day.  On election day you can vote at any voting place in the country.  We can be proud of the fairness, openness and accessibility of our enrolment and voting processes.

“It’s even easier for kiwis travelling overseas to vote in this year’s general election.  We’ve introduced a new option to upload your voting papers at elections.org.nz and extended the timeframe to return your voting papers by post,” says Mr Peden.

Overseas voting starts Wednesday 3 September.  The easiest way to vote is to download your voting papers and upload a scanned image or photo of your completed voting papers at elections.org.nz.

You can also apply for postal voting papers (these are sent from NZ so apply early!) or vote in person at one of 77 of overseas posts.  Check out elections.org.nz for the latest list of overseas posts and their opening times.  You can post your voting papers to your nearest overseas post but these must be received before voting closes at the post.  You cannot vote at an overseas post on weekends, local public holidays or on Election Day.

You can still fax, post or courier your completed voting papers to the Electoral Commission.  Voting papers returned by post must be postmarked no later than Thursday 18 September and received at the Commission by noon, Wednesday 24 September.

And if you are thinking of not voting at this year’s election, please think again.  Your vote does matter, it is important that you vote, and it is worth making the effort to work out who you should vote for.  It takes all of us, together, to make New Zealand’s democracy the best it can be.