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Hundreds of first day voters at Newtown polling station

first day of voting 1 Tanya [1]
RNZ photos by Hamish Cardwell

Report from RNZ by Hamish Cardwell
On the first day of voting yesterday, a Wellington election official said the polling station in the suburb of Newtown had been much busier than expected. Many people were voting in the pop-up polling station beside the supermarket on Riddiford Street.

Local resident Tanya (above, with her daughter Te Aroha) said she was surprised how many people were getting their vote done on Saturday. She said her young daughter’s enthusiasm for the election meant they got in there early.

“My daughter’s pretty excited. [She’s] been talking all about it, she’s been seeing all the billboards around, so she’s pretty excited to to go and vote.”

first day of voting 2 Harvey [2]

Harley Bird said he and his flatmate decided to make a morning of it and go vote together.

“Go get a coffee … democracy’s important – so why not.”

first day 3 [3]

Polls opened yesterday at 9am and Rongotai electorate returning officer Deb Leslie said by 11am hundreds of people had been through Newtown’s pop-up polling station. “It’s been much busier than we expected, which is fantastic.

“It means people are actually hearing about advanced voting – there’s been a lot of people who didn’t realise that they could start voting from now, and have just [come in when they] wandered past.”

In a bid to ease queues to aid social distancing, advanced voting began a couple of days early this election. Voting is being managed as if under alert level 2 conditions.

Leslie said people could sign in manually or use the Covid QR code, then they have to sanitise their hands on the way into the station.

Everyone gets their own free pen to make their ticks.

“We’ve got masks and gloves… for any people that want to wear them. We’ve also got the metre distancing laid out on the floor, so everyone knows where they need to stand, the desks are all separated so it is very very safe. We’ve taken all the precautions we possibly can.”