Update: targeting voters abroad

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Douglas to Dancing’, a blog I maintained from 2007-9 on the ACT New Zealand political party. The blog was an extension of the thesis I wrote about the Act Party in 2007, From Douglas to Dancing: explaining the lack of success of ACT New Zealand and evaluating its future prospects (PDF).

Many thanks to Stephen who posted some interesting information as a comment to yesterday’s post on the difficulties of targeting New Zealand voters abroad. According to an expat organisation called Kea New Zealand, which is running a campaign called “Every Vote Counts”, only around 28,000 of 500,000 New Zealanders living abroad who are eligible to vote actually do so, which I think is a staggering statistic. As for the motives behind the campaign, according to Kea:

Every Vote Counts is strictly non-partisan, and does not advocate that expatriates vote for any particular political party or candidate, nor hold or act on any particular political opinion. No public funds are being used to support Every Vote Counts.

It seems unfortunate that it is left to a volunteer group to encourage New Zealanders living abroad to vote. Kea’s website is a pretty professional effort and I might add slightly more attractive than Elections New Zealand‘s own site, which does a good job of burying information for overseas voters. As I said in the previous post, getting to overseas voters is not an easy job, but there must be a better way. I wonder whether departure cards filled out at the border when leaving New Zealand could be used as a contact point (so long as passengers grant their permission), with an e-mail and/or letter sent out automatically reminding people to enrol and vote from abroad. If you can be stopped at the border for not paying traffic fines, surely it would be possible to get people on the electoral roll.

While Kea is non-partisan, I also found a Labour Party effort (shrewdly registered with a .co.uk suffix) called “Kiwi Vote” (as an aside, with “Kiwi” being used for nearly anything these days, I wonder when Labour will rename itself KiwiLabour). It promotes Jacinda Ardern as “your candidate in London“, although it would appear she has returned to New Zealand by now. From April onwards, however, she was apparently scouring the streets of London to find eligible New Zealand voters, both to encourage them to enrol and vote for Labour. Ardern has been ranked 20 on the Labour Party list.

ACT supporter Clint Heine is also based in London and is also on the ACT list this election, at position 39.

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