I was interested to see this news item on TV3 : ‘Did opinion polls influence the election?‘
New research by Michelle Nicol shows those polls may also have contributed to the record low turnout.
Her research found three main influences on people’s perceptions of politics and the election, with a lot of undecided voters going to the ‘popular’ party in order to feel as though they fit in.
I’ve often thought, and argued, that there should be a moratorium on opinion polls in the last three months (roughly) before an election. They have two effects which I think are bad for democracy:
- They influence both turnout and voting behaviour, often in a negative way – e.g. convincing people they should vote in a particular way because of what other people think, rather than according to their own beliefs.
- They add to the punditry of discussion about who is going to win and lose, thus removing public space for informative debate about issues, personalities and policies.
Liberation discusses the issue in much more depth here (and comes to a different conclusion).
It’s the twentieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison today. South Africa let that prisoner go on to become president. New Zealand’s Paul Quinn would prefer he didn’t vote?
Just a quick though in response to Paul Quinn’s private member’s bill: I know this probably won’t be a very popular opinion but aren’t prisoners the very people we do want voting. After all they probably have good knowledge of the legal system, whether it works and whether it is fair. It seems ridiculous that we wouldn’t want to draw on that experience.
For anyone who has enrolled late (like say, yesterday!) and does not have an EasyVote package, you can find the information presented in them at these webpages:
A list of polling places and candidates for each electorate. (The polls open at 9am and close at 7pm)
The party lists, so you know who you’re voting for when you vote for a given party.
How to make a special declaration vote. If you’ve enrolled late, you will not be on the printed electoral role, and will need to tell the electoral officials that you’re casting a special declaration vote because you missed enrollment before the printed roll.
Finally, to those who are already caught up: Please help other people have the confidence, security, and passion to vote! This goes double for young voters, who will really want to turn around the trend of not voting very often if they want to be catered for in this country’s decision-making. Please note that you’re not allowed to campaign on election day, so don’t try to convince anyone to Vote For Us. 🙂
If you’re still not enrolled to vote, you can still enroll, provided you finish tommorow. You can download an enrollment form, ring free on 0800 ENROL NOW (0800 36 76 56), or visit a post shop in order to enroll.
While it is too late to get on the printed roll, you can easily vote on election day by casting a special declaration vote. This just essentially means you explain why you’re not on that electorate’s printed electoral roll. Even a special declaration vote is still very easy to cast.
Your party vote is crucial in this election, whomever you support. We’ve had a deficit of polls recently, but internal party polling from the older parties seems to be suggesting things are very close.
Even if you’re not voting for the Greens, even if none of the parties likely to get in has policies or personalities that satisfy you, there are still good reasons to vote- politicians have access to demographics on who votes more often, and policies are far more likely to be friendly to your demographic if you vote. In addition, if a significant amount of people vote for a party that doesn’t make it into Parliament, existing parties may lean towards adopting some of their policy.