Revised election statistics, turnout down

The Electoral commission has released revised election statistics.

  • Estimated eligible population: 3,569,830
  • Total number enrolled: 3,298,009
  • Election night votes counted: 2,169,802
  • Special votes still to be counted: 384,072
  • Total estimated votes: 2,563,740
    (Total 2014 votes counted: 2,416,479)

This has brought the turnout down to just below the turnout in 2014 (by my calculation).

  • Estimated 2017 turnout (of enrolled voters): 77.6%
  • Actual 2014 turnout (of enrolled voters): 77.9%

So that is a slightly lower turnout, despite the large increase in advance votes  and despite the claims of ‘youthquakes’.

  • Estimated 2017 turnout (of eligible voters):71.7%

This turnout based on eligible voters is not usually stated but I would have thought it more pertinent.







The responsibility of forming Government

Probably the biggest responsibility in a democracy such as ours is an election. That is one time every three years that voters, the people, have a say in who runs out country. Most people take that responsibility seriously.

Another of the biggest responsibilities follows every election – the formation of Government, especially so when a number of options are possible.

Due to the way all the other parties have stood aside waiting this responsibility falls in particular this year on NZ First and on it’s leader Winston Peters. They represent about 163 thousand voters (with specials to add), just 7.5% of eligible voters.

Peters and NZ First have a responsibility to represent the wishes of their party members and their supporters and voters first and foremost, but they also have a responsibility to everyone and to the whole country.

Peters has been criticised for ‘keeping the country waiting’, but he is correct to take his time. The process needs to be done right, and that can’t happen until the final results come in on 7 October.

The final results may substantially change the balance of power. Many expect them to give the NZ First-Labour-Green option a bit more weight by giving Greens and perhaps also Labour an extra seat, which would give this triumvirate a buffer in their majority of 63-57.

However this isn’t certain, and there is a chance that National could gain a seat giving them with ACT 60-60 parity. This would change things substantially.

So until we get the final results all the parties can do is prepare for coalition negotiations.

Labour and National are doing this carefully in order to win positive attention and respect from Peters in particular.

Peters has also taken care not to reveal what he might decide. He appears to have taken his responsibilities seriously, He has been through this process twice before, in 1996 and in 2005, so he knows as well as anyone how it should work.

On election night when it became clear that NZ First were in a pivotal position Peters acknowledged his responsibilities. From Newsroom Winston Peters plots a path as kingmaker:

Yet as he noted, NZ First still holds what he called “the balance of political responsibility”.

“We have been strong enough and honest enough with our supporters to make it home and to have not all the cards but we do have the main cards – we’re not going to squander that opportunity.”

He counselled patience during negotiations, aware of the flak he copped in 1996 after weeks of talks, and reaffirmed a pledge to make a decision public by the return of the writs on October 12.

I think serious negotiations should start as soon the final results are known on 7 October but will probably take at least as long as the return of the writs.

A smooth transition to a new Government and the stable running of Government are at stake.

So far Peters appears to be taking his responsibilities seriously.

Unfortunately someone or some people in NZ First have chosen to be irresponsible, as has Newshub sensationalist Patrick Gower. See Gower’s disgraceful power play, and more in the next post.

Would a lower threshold have made much difference?

The large parties have kept ensuring it remains very difficult for small parties to succeed or survive by keeping a ridiculously high threshold of 5%. A slightly more reasonable 4% was recommended, and many people have said it should be much lower.

No new parties that didn’t have MPs who had jumped ship have succeeded in getting into Parliament in 21 years of MMP.

What would the election result have looked like with no threshold? From Rediit What Parliament could have been if there was no 5% minimum

Actual seats (provisional):


Seats with no 5% threshold (provisional)



That would have brought 5 MPs from 3 parties into Parliament that didn’t make it.

This wouldn’t have changed the National+NZ First majority much (58 to 54, still a clear majority) but it would have left Labour+NZ First+Green short on 59 (they have a bare majority 61 seats now).

However also noted at Reddit:

Of course, if there was no 5% minimum, peoples voting behavior would have changed.

I suspect greens would have gotten less, with TOP and maybe United Future getting more.

And if we had also had no threshold last election the Conservatives and Internet-Mana may have been in Parliament and in the mix this election. Even a slightly lower 4% could have made a significant difference.

Keeping the 5% threshold in place is keeping new parties out of Parliament and gradually squeezing small parties out too. At one stage polls suggested that both NZ First and Greens were at risk of missing the cut.

Thresholds in other countries:

  • Germany 5%
  • Poland 5%
  • Israel 3.25% (it has gradually been increased)
  • Turkey 10%
  • Netherlands effectively 0.67%
  • Slovenia effectively 4%
  • Sweden 4%

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommends for parliamentary elections a threshold not higher than 3%.

There are some variations. In New Zealand if a party wins an electorate seat the threshold doesn’t apply to them, in Germany they have a 3 seat exemption.

But this is probably all futile pondering, National and Labour seem intent on excluding fair representation by maintaining a high 5% barrier to protect their own interests at the expense of  fair democracy.

How will special vote affect the result?

The short answer is that no one knows, and there’s no way of knowing until the final results are published on 7 October (Saturday next week).

But that hasn’t stopped people from guessing, or assuming based on past effects of special votes on election night totals.

It is widely presumed that National will lose a seat or two (they lost 1 in 2014 after specials were counted) or possibly two, and Greens are expected to pick one up and possibly Labour as well.

But this election has been quite different to past elections.

There are an estimated 384,072 special votes to be counted, up from about 300 thousand in 2014 and about 15% of the total vote. They include:

  • votes cast overseas;
  • votes cast by the telephone dictation service;
  • votes cast on polling day by people voting at a voting place not designated to serve their electorate;
  • votes cast by people who enrolled after the printed electoral roll was closed (including during advance voting);
  • votes cast by people on the unpublished roll; and
  • votes cast by people who think they’re enrolled to vote, but aren’t (these votes don’t count).

It is assumed that many young people enrolled and voted, especially at university polling places, so that is likely to favour Labour and the Greens. But the turnout of younger voters is usually relatively low.

In Election 2017: the Special Votes Graeme Edgeler tries to estimate the shift in support from specials based on the movement last election.

…using the same rudimentary method I used last time (assuming the variance in special votes is the same size as it was at the 2014 election), along with the Electoral Commission’s estimate of the number of special votes at this election, I predict the following final result:

  Preliminary Projected
  Vote share Seats Vote share Seats
National 46.03% 58 44.86% 56
Labour 35.79% 45 36.55% 46
New Zealand First 7.51% 9 7.32% 9
The Greens 5.85% 7 6.32% 8
TOP 2.21% 0 2.35% 0
Maori Party 1.08% 0 1.12% 0
ACT 0.51% 1 0.51% 1

In 2014, National did 17% worse on special votes than they did with ordinary votes, while the Greens did 53% better. This was enough to see National lose one seat after special votes were counted, and the Greens to pick one up.

Edgeler makes it clear that this is a guess:

This time, assuming (perhaps foolishly) that the same basic numbers apply, and with the larger number of Special Votes still to be counted, both Labour and the Greens are within striking distance of of taking a list seat from National.

There is something else we may get an idea from – the trends in polls during the  voting period (advance votes and election day).

We don’t know when Special Votes were cast. We can assume that many were cast during advance voting, but there could also have been a lot on election day.

The voting period was from 11 September to 23 September. Most of the advance votes were in the last few days, not covered by polling periods.

Polls show that before voting started in early September they favoured Labour over National, and Greens had already recovered after earlier bottoming out below 5%.

The last polls before the election:

  • Colmar Brunton 2-6 September: NAT 39, LAB 43, NZF 9, GRN 5
  • Roy Morgan 28 Aug-10 Sep: NAT 40, LAB 39.5, NZF 6, GRN 9
  • Reid Research 6-11 September: NAT 47.3, LAB 37.8, NZF 6, GRN 4.9
  • Colmar Brunton 9-13 September: NAT 40, LAB 44, NZF 6, GRN 7
  • Reid Research 13-20 September: NAT 45.8, LAB 37.3, NZF 7.1, GRN 7.1
  • Colmar Brunton 15-19 September: NAT 46, LAB 37, NZF 4.9, GRN 8

The last polls have similar results to the election, suggesting the poll swings had settled down by the second week of voting when most advance votes were cast.

This is inconclusive. Reid Research suggests support had already swung back to National from Labour while Colmar Brunton suggests a late swing.

Both show a late swing to the Greens but mostly before voting started. NZ First were up and down.

There is really not enough information about the special votes to do anything other than guess what effect they will have on the outcome.

All we really know is that there was quite a bit of late support movement , and this may or may not impact on special vote support of various parties.

One notable thing about voting patterns on election night – pundits kept suggesting, based on past election patterns, that as the results came in support was likely to swing against National by a percent or two (44% was mentioned) and increase for Labour. This barely happened – National support dropped a little but stayed in the 49-47% range.

But we simply don’t know if a smaller swing against National than last election is likely or not after special votes are counted.

We can guess, but we should be careful about having much confidence in assumptions that pundits make. There have also been many surprises in this election.

Total votes and turnout

Total provisional votes: 2,169,802

Special votes (about): 384,000

Estimated total votes: 2,553,802

Total votes in 2014: 2,416,479

Approximate increase in votes 2014 to 2017:  137,323

Estimated eligible voters: 3,569,830

Estimated turnout of eligible voters: 71.5%
BUT the statistics commonly used are percentage of enrolled voters.

Estimated turnout of enrolled voters: 78.8%

So that is a slight increase on last election (where Labour did very poorly). Past turnout:


Election – provisional results

The 2017 election night provisional results (which excludes hundreds of thousands of special votes):

Party Votes % of Votes Electorate Seats List Seats Total seats
National Party 998,813 46.0 41 17 58
Labour Party 776,556 35.8 29 16 45
New Zealand First Party 162,988 7.5 9 9
Green Party 126,995 5.9 7 7
ACT New Zealand 10,959 0.5 1 1
The Opportunities Party (TOP) 48,018 2.2
Māori Party 23,456 1.1
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 5,853 0.3
Conservative 5,318 0.2
MANA 2,775 0.1
Ban1080 2,440 0.1
New Zealand People’s Party 1,631 0.1
United Future 1,471 0.1
NZ Outdoors Party 1,333 0.1
Democrats for Social Credit 732 0.0
Internet Party 464 0.0
Total 2,169,802 71 49 120

‘Special votes’ also include those cast from outside an electorate, people who enrolled after writ day (August 23), those on the unpublished roll and those who cast special votes because of a complication that meant accessing a polling booth would cause hardship.

There were 303,000 special votes in 2012, I don’t have that number yet for this election.

This is the first time since 2002 that there are just 120 seats.

National 46.0% – this is a very good result for them for a fourth term government, but they are short of an easy majority due to a lack of support parties. It is a very good result for Bill English – If John Key hadn’t stepped down he would have struggled to do as well.

Labour 35.8% – 2 months ago they would have loved a result like this, 2 weeks ago they looked like they could do much better. Jacinda Ardern was disappointed they didn’t do better and looked like she lost last night. They could still form a government, and if not are at least on the road to recovery after a very poor 2014 election.

NZ First 7.5% – Winston Peters will be disappointed to have dropped 1.3% from their 2014 provisional vote. He claimed the polls were wrong but it turns out he was wrong. Still, it seems likely NZ First could decide who will lead the next government and are in a strong negotiating position, albeit with a smaller mandate.

Greens 5.9% – 2 months ago they would have seen a result like this as a disaster, they were aiming for three times as much, but beating the threshold is now seem as a major victory. James Shaw has done very well to lift them out of the Metiria mess, but it is still a poor mandate compared to their 2014 result. This is their worst result since they got 5.3% in 2005 (and were kept out of government by Winston Peters).

TOP 2.2% – an ok result for a new party but still well short of success, so it’s a failure for them.

Maori 1.1% –  down on their 1.32% in 2014, and out due to Te Ururoa Flavell losing his electorate. A disaster for the party, and if Labour don’t form the next government a poor result for Maori voters.

ACT Party 0.5% – down on their 0.69% in 2014 so failure as a party. David Seymour keeps them in Parliament through winning Epsom, but ACT have to get their act together, somehow.

United Future 0.1% – they were always going to struggle without Peter Dunne and they did struggle. Must now be history.

Conservative Party (0.2%), MANA (0.1%) and Internet Party (just 464 votes) – all dismal results.

Cannabis Party, Ban1080 Party, NZ People’s Party and NZ Outdoors Party were ‘up’ amongst the minnows but were ignored by media and largely ignored by voters.


Comparing to last election – note that it is expected there could be similar movements in party support between provisional and final results, but there is no guarantee similar patterns will occur this year.

Table 2: 2014 Final Party Vote and Seat Count

Party Valid Party Votes
Provisional Total (1) Final Total Provisional Share (%) Final Share (%)
National Party 1,010,464 1,131,501 48.06 47.04
Labour Party 519,146 604,535 24.69 25.13
Green Party 210,764 257,359 10.02 10.7
New Zealand First 186,031 208,300 8.85 8.66
Māori Party 27,074 31,849 1.29 1.32
ACT New Zealand 14,510 16,689 0.69 0.69
United Future 4,533 5,286 0.22 0.22
Conservative 86,616 95,598 4.12 3.97
Internet-MANA 26,539 34,094 1.26 1.42
Other (2) 16,994 20,411 0.8 0.84
Total Valid Party Votes 2,102,671 2,405,622 100% 100%
Informal / Disallowed Votes (3) 9,851 40,675
TOTALS 2,112,522 2,446,297
  1. Provisional figures are as at election night on the 20th September; final figures as at 10 October, 2014. The preliminary results (announced on election night) include all ordinary votes – those cast by people who appear on the printed roll in the voting place they go to, and that are cast either on Election Day or in advance of Election Day. Provisional figures exclude the 329,726 special votes cast by voters who are overseas, or who are voting outside their electorate, or who are not on the printed roll for their electorate. Valid special votes are admitted to the final official count.
  2. Final party vote share for parties in the ‘Other’ category include: Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (0.46%); Ban1080 (0.21%); Democrats for Social Credit (0.07%); The Civilian Party (0.05%); NZ Independent Coalition (0.04%); Focus New Zealand (0.03%).
  3. Informal Votes are votes cast by electors, qualified to vote, which are not counted because the ballot paper did not clearly indicate the party or the electorate candidate vote, or both. ‘Disallowed votes‘ are votes disallowed for one of the following reasons: no ground stated for a special vote, arrived late, declaration not enclosed, incomplete declaration, ballot paper not enclosed, or address invalid for electorate.

Source: Electoral Commission:

UPDATE: The Electoral Commission estimates about 384,000, or 15 percent, of votes are special declaration votes and are still to be counted.

Despite mounting claims Trump calls Russian interference a hoax

The investigation of Russian interference in last year’s US election is claiming more evidence it happened, but Trump claims it is all a hoax.

This has been messed up more due to Hilary Clinton promoting her book and claiming she was hard done by.

The pinnacle of US politics is not a pretty sight.

CNN: Trump says this is all a hoax. Mueller, Congress and Facebook disagree

Special counsel Robert Mueller and three congressional committees are investigating Russian interference in the election, but President Trump is still telling his fans it’s a “hoax.”

Trump has used the “Russia hoax” label at least once a month since March. He said it again in a tweet on Friday — that scrutiny over Facebook ads from Russian-linked accounts was just part of the continuing “hoax.”

There is mounting evidence to the contrary. National security officials and congressional leaders agree that Russian meddling must be thoroughly investigated.

But the president continues to deny it.

“He has a very difficult time separating out the fact of the Russians affecting the election and the outcome,” David Sanger of The New York Times said on CNN’s “New Day.”

With a pair of tweets on Friday, Trump tried to turn the focus back to his opponent in the election. After calling Russia a hoax, he asked, “What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”

Trump was echoing conservative commentators who say he won the election in spite of grossly unfair media coverage.

Hillary Clinton has been on a highly successful book tour for the past two weeks.

During the book tour, Clinton herself has sharply criticized the news media’s influence on the election. Her view is that the press went relatively easy on Trump, partly because they thought Clinton would win, which gave him a big advantage.

Trump has an opposite view. “The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media ‘screaming’ for Crooked Hillary Clinton,” he tweeted on Friday. “Next, she was a bad candidate!”

In effect he’s saying “look over there,” at media bias, “not over there,” at the mounting evidence that Russia tried to sway the election in his favor.

New leaks and revelations emerge every day about Russian meddling in the election. Some of the stories describe connections between Russians and people in Trump’s orbit.

Facebook’s role in inadvertently spreading Russian propaganda, some of it explicitly anti-Clinton, has come into focus this month. On Thursday, the company pledged to hand 3,000 Russia-linked ads over to Congress, and it announced a nine-point plan in response to election interference.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg clearly doesn’t think the talk of Russian interference is a “hoax.”

Fox News: Trump launches tweetstorm against Kim Jong Un, Rand Paul, ‘Russia hoax

Earlier this month, Facebook uncovered approximately $100,000 spread across approximately 3,000 ads in fraudulent ad spending across its platform tied to the 2016 presidential election. The “potentially politically-related ads” were bought from accounts with U.S. IP addresses, but the language was set to Russian, Facebook said.

While Trump accused the media of promoting Clinton, in her new book “What Happened,” Clinton blamed the media — and many other factors — for her loss.

The involvement of the media in the US election was complicated. It’s difficult to judge who they helped or hindered more. Trump wouldn’t have succeeded without them giving him so much attention – it’s unlikely he would have even been nominated if it wasn’t for his successful playing of the media, so it’s ridiculous that he now accuses the media of working against him.

Some media coverage certainly was negative (some of it was justified) but that probably helped Trump. And media support of Clinton probably worked against her campaign as much as for it.

But back to the Russian interference, surely it is very important that this is investigated properly, for the sake of the integrity of US democracy, as tainted as it is.

And it is improper of a president to trash an investigation into his campaign and into members of his campaign team.

This is the last day of the campaign!

Today is the last day of the election campaign for 2017. I’m sure many politicians, candidates, journalists and others such as myself will be relieved when it’s over.

All billboards and other public advertising must be removed by midnight and out of sight by election day (ridiculous given the number of advance votes these days), so campaign teams will be busy today cleaning up their efforts to entice voters.

If you want to promote any candidates or parties here get it done today, because you won’t be allowed to tomorrow because of electoral law.

I won’t be doing any posts on New Zealand politics or the election during the day on Saturday, to reduce the risk of anyone breaking the law and putting the site at legal risk.

I will put up an election night post for anyone who wants to comment after voting closes at 7 pm.

Ardern – not too young but rattled

A  Herald ZB Kantar TNS poll shows that most people don’t think Jacinda Ardern is too young to be Prime Minister. Age no barrier for Jacinda Ardern, new poll says

The actual question asked isn’t clear, but here are the reported results:

  • Her age should have no bearing on how voters view her 44%
  • Her age could be an advantage as a Prime Minister in a modern government 22%
  • She was too young and inexperienced as a political party leader to take on the top job 28%

Youth and inexperience are not the same.

Not surprisingly older people thought she was too young or experienced – 43% of over sixties.

And “More than three-quarters of 18-to-29-year-olds either said her age was irrelevant or that it was a positive.”

The poll of 1000 people took place between September 13 and 19 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

No sign of them polling Bill English, James Shaw or Winston Peters on the suitability of their age or experience – or staleness.

Also NZH: The verdicts on the final Bill English vs Jacinda Ardern leaders’ debate

Audrey Young: Winner? Bill English

Jacinda Ardern was on the defensive for most of the debate, possibly because the 1News poll showing a dive for Labour knocked the stuffing out of her.

English won more points, but he didn’t shine. He wasn’t very nimble and it looked as though the campaign had taken its toll.

The campaign has taken it’s toll on many of us, but understandable the party leaders are getting jaded and a tad tired of repeated the same stuff over and over.

Toby Manhire: Winner? Draw

Ardern looked properly riled, challenging English to look her in the eye and repeat the claim. He was sticking with his hole, but gave a little ground.

She called him Bill countless times; he didn’t say Jacinda but he did tell voters they had a choice, several thousand times over.

…it’s hard imagine anyone having had their mind changed.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Winner? Bill English

It’s the first time Ardern has looked rattled. She struggled to maintain her usually ever-present smile.

Ardern struggled to defend her plans on a number of fronts but performed well on the health crisis.

English has never looked so in command this campaign.

He attacked both Labour and the Greens for hopping on the water tax “populist bandwagon”, over-talked Ardern and pulled her up on facts.

Liam Dann: Winner? Bill English

Ardern never got a roll on.

English smiled and talked his way through the tricky issues like a Prime Ministerial robot.

In the brief moments where he was vulnerable – the fuel pipeline debacle, poverty and the imaginary fiscal hole – Ardern needed to go for the knockout.

In fact, never mind the boxing analogies, she needed to hit him in the nuts like a street fighter. It’s probably to her credit as a person that she didn’t but it handed English a clear points victory.

If you haven’t voted yet make up your mind and do it.

I’m going to vote on Saturday. I’m still observing and pondering.

Climate debate

ndrew BaileyWWF has organised an election climate debate, starting tonight at 7 pm.

We know it’s 100% possible to unlock a safe climate future for all New Zealanders. Climate action is bigger than politics – but it’s election season right now. Will political parties come together to set a course for a 100% renewable energy, zero carbon future? Or will climate action remain a political football?

WWF-New Zealand’s Climate Debate is your chance to find out.

  • What: This election’s big climate debate.
  • When7pm on 19 September

Brought to you in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland, the Debate is your chance to learn about the parties’ climate policies – and ask your political representatives the questions that matter to you. We already have an exciting mixture of speakers from almost all of New Zealand’s key political parties coming along, just days before the election.

Business journalist Rod Oram will be your MC on the night,asking all the candidates the questions that matter for Aotearoa’s climate future.

Taking part:

  • Megan Woods (Labour),
  • James Shaw (Greens),
  • Carrie Stoddart-Smith (Māori Party),
  • Denis O’Rourke (NZ First),
  • Damien Light (United Future),
  • Teresa Moore (TOP)
  • Andrew Bailey (National)

Youtube was hopeless, but Facebook is working.