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two cartoon hands holding envelopes and a "local elections' sign on a blue grid background
Voters will be using Single Transferable Voting and Māori wards for the first time (Image: Tina Tiller)

Local Elections 2022September 17, 2022

How to cast your local elections vote

two cartoon hands holding envelopes and a "local elections' sign on a blue grid background
Voters will be using Single Transferable Voting and Māori wards for the first time (Image: Tina Tiller)

You’ve been following the local elections avidly. You’ve been comparing candidates on You’re ready and psyched to vote. Finally, you’ve received the papers. So what comes next?  

Who should I vote for?

That’s up to you! But you can explore candidates’ policies here and familiarise yourself with candidate red flags here.

So, the paper. Am I ticking boxes? Am I ranking candidates? Am I drawing pictures that represent my desire for democratic representation? 

Don’t draw pictures! Inside your voting envelope, there will be a booklet of candidate blurbs, with brief descriptions of who they are and their policies. There will also be detailed instructions (your friendly local media start-ups can’t always cover every question) and forms to fill. 

Once you know who you’re voting for, you need to fill out the forms. If you’re voting in a first past the post (FPP) election, you will be ticking boxes next to your preferred candidates’ names; the winner will be the candidate(s) who receive the most votes. If you’re voting in a single transferable vote (STV) election, you need to rank all your candidates from most preferred to least preferred. We have a full description of how STV voting works here, but essentially it means that your preferences get taken into account even if your favourite candidate doesn’t get in. 

You will be voting in multiple elections – for a mayor and councillors, and perhaps a local or community board, licensing trust, or regional councillors too. Make sure you fill out your votes for all these elections; there may be multiple pieces of paper. Mark the paper cleanly – don’t use that pen from the back of the drawer that always leaks – and feel happy that you’ve acted decisively for local democracy. 

Votes can be mailed or placed in a ballot box. Photo: iStock

I’ve filled out the forms – what do I do next?

You need to send the forms back so they can be counted. Your voting papers should include a self-addressed envelope – tuck your papers into this and mail it in any postbox. If you’re mailing your vote, be sure to send it by October 4 so it will arrive by the October 8 deadline. 

If your papers have sat by the door for two weeks and accidentally not been posted before the deadline (it happens to the best of us) then you can drop the envelope off at a ballot box before midday on election day, October 8. These boxes will be available at some libraries, council service centres, and – in Auckland – at every Countdown. You should be able to find information on your council website about how to find ballot boxes where you live, or who to contact if you have other questions. 

When will I know which candidates have won?

Most votes will be counted and released by the afternoon of Saturday 8 October, giving a pretty clear indication of winners and losers. It’ll take another few days for special votes to be counted.

Special votes

I don’t have voting papers because I forgot to enrol/just moved house/ turned 18 last week/rain destroyed the contents of my letterbox but I’m desperate to vote! What do I do?

Special votes are available to people whose names do not appear on the main electoral roll but who are still eligible to vote. They can also be used if you’ve forgotten to enrol, your voting papers get wet or damaged, if you’re on the unpublished electoral roll, are travelling during the voting period, or haven’t received voting papers for another reason. 

A rainy city street at night
Rainstorms or forgetfulness don’t need to get in the way of voting. Image: Getty Images

How do I get my special voting papers? 

There will most likely be a voting hub of some kind where you live – perhaps a council service centre or a set up at a library. You should also be able to get in touch with the electoral officer for your area to request special voting papers. During the voting period, which is September 16 to noon on October 8, you will be able to pick up voting papers from these locations, or you can ask to have your voting papers mailed to you. You can fill out your form and cast your vote at the same location, or you can take it home and tick your boxes or rank your candidates there then send your vote in the post or drop it off at a voting location.

You can pick up and cast your special voting papers without being enrolled to vote; however, you must enrol by October 7 for your vote to be counted. If you haven’t enrolled before, you can do that here

Where do I find places to drop off my special vote? 

Have a search on your council’s website – there should be some information there. However, a quick rundown for the major population centres:

  • Auckland: 65 different Countdown supermarkets and other locations you can find here
  • Hamilton: Ballot boxes are marked with checkboxes on the map here
  • Wellington: Te Pokapū Hapori Community Centre on Manners Street, and five different libraries during the week of October 3. More information here.
  • Christchurch: Christchurch Civic Offices on Hereford Street or libraries listed here
  • Dunedin: At the Civic Centre in the Octagon during the voting period, other locations and times listed here

Do my special votes count? 

Yes, a special vote counts exactly the same as any other vote. However – just like in general elections – special votes are counted later. “Progress” election results, counting votes cast up to October 7, will be available on election day, October 8; “preliminary” election results, counting all votes cast on 8 October, will be available on 9 October; and “final” elections results, counting all the special votes, will be published on October 13. 

Keep going!