The voting period for the current by-election for the vacant Motueka Ward seat on the Tasman District Council has been extended to 12 noon on Tuesday 26 May.
Initially closing at 12 noon on 12 May, the Electoral Officer, Sandra Hartley, has used her ability to extend the voting period under section 73 of the Local Electoral Act 2001 by 14 days to enable people to cast a valid vote.
“The number of voting papers returned for the Motueka by-election are less than I would expect for this point in time during a by-election voting period”, said Ms Hartley. “I expect that some members of the public are finding it difficult to cast a valid vote during the COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions. Regardless of the reason, it is paramount people have the means to choose their preferred candidate.
“Despite NZ Post reassuring us that all 9004 voting papers have now been distributed, a number of voters have told us they have yet to receive theirs. If you have not received your voting papers, please contact me on 03 543 8554.
“The current electoral legislation did not anticipate a by-election happening during a pandemic. I explored every avenue possible, however, there were no provisions in the legislation that would enable me or anyone else to pause the election process earlier or to delay the distribution of voting papers. I share the frustrations expressed by some Motueka residents. It certainly would have been sensible to have paused or delayed the distribution of voting papers, if I’d been able to do so legally.
“The one power I do have is to extend the voting period, once voting has started, by 14 days at a time, to enable voters to cast a valid vote. This is what I am doing now. I think it is owed to the Motueka community to have a reasonable opportunity to vote in this by-election and to choose a candidate that can take their seat at the Council table without challenge”.
Completed voting papers should still be posted in your nearest NZ Post box up until Thursday 21 May 2020, and thereafter may be taken to the Council’s Motueka office and placed in the ballot box if the office is open, or in the after-hours box.
If you have not received your voting papers, please ring 03 543 8554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a special voting document to be sent out to you.