Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 3, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other NZ news. The essential campaign dates are here. For all you need to know about the cannabis referendum click here. For the assisted dying referendum click here. Explore the parties’ pledges at Policy. I’m on email@example.com
7.00pm: The day in sum
American president Donald Trump was taken to hospital with Covid-19, and various contacts also tested positive.
Advance voting opened and New Zealanders – including the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, flocked to polling booths across the country.
There was one new case of Covid-19, a recent returnee who tested positive in managed isolation.
4.20pm: Kellyanne Conway latest in Trump circle to test positive for Covid-19
Controversial former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway has tested positive to Covid-19, the latest attendee of Trump’s event announcing the supreme court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett last Saturday to test positive.
Republican senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, as well as Notre Dame University president John Jenkins, have all tested positive since attending the event, reports CNN.
Conway tweeted her diagnosis this afternoon NZ time:
Tonight I tested positive for COVID-19. My symptoms are mild (light cough) and I’m feeling fine. I have begun a quarantine process in consultation with physicians.
As always, my heart is with everyone affected by this global pandemic. ❤️
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 3, 2020
4.00pm: Queues reported at polling stations
Advance voting has been popular today, with queues to vote forming at polling stations across the country including in Wellington, Hamilton, the Coromandel, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Polls opened at 9am at nearly 450 advance voting places across the country and Rongotai electorate returning officer Deb Leslie told RNZ that 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,” she said. “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.”
The Electoral Commission is predicting around 60% of people will cast their vote in advance of the October 17 election day this year.
We’re running a non-scientific poll on Twitter, and so far 69% of the 242 respondents have said they’re voting in advance.
On the campaign trail
Here’s where our political leaders are today:
- Labour leader Jacinda Ardern cast her vote in Auckland this morning (see 12.40pm update) and then was heading to a voter mobilisation event in South Auckland.
- National leader Judith Collins is in Hawke’s Bay, where she talked to voters at the farmers market in Napier (and got some sourdough, cheese, coffee and olive oil according to a Facebook video). She was then heading to the Hawke’s Bay races to make a policy announcement.
- NZ First leader Winston Peters is in Auckland, where he’s been at the Howick Village Market and is currently visiting the Sylvia Park mall.
- Greens co-leader James Shaw voted this morning in Wellington, and then was heading to a rally for fair rent.
- Act leader David Seymour is also in the Hawke’s Bay today, taking his “bus” tour to Takapau, Napier and Havelock North.
1.10pm: Trump tweets before being taken to hospital
The US president, Donald Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last night NZ time, has tweeted a short video from the White House thanking “everybody for their tremendous support” before being taken to Walter Reed hospital via helicopter. “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out,” he says in the video. Trump was pictured giving the thumbs up sign as he boarded the helicopter.
CNN is reporting via a White House insider that Trump is “spooked” by the diagnosis and has become increasingly alarmed as he has developed symptoms, such as a fever.
1.00pm: One new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation
There is one new confirmed case of Covid-19 to report from managed isolation in New Zealand today and no new confirmed cases in the community, says the Ministry of Health.
The person who has tested positive arrived in New Zealand on October 1 from England via Hong Kong. They have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
Our total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is 1,493. Three previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, bringing our total number of active cases to 41. Of those, 33 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and just eight are community cases.
There is no one in hospital with Covid-19 in New Zealand today.
Yesterday our laboratories processed 5,728 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 976,369.
12.55pm: Covid-19 case numbers to be updated
We’re expecting a statement from the Ministry of Health at around 1pm with the latest on the Covid-19 case numbers in New Zealand. Yesterday there were no cases in the community nor any detected in managed isolation. We’ll bring you today’s info as soon as we get it.
12.40pm: Jacinda Ardern casts her vote
The Labour leader and current prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, was among the New Zealanders to get in early and cast their vote today as advance voting began, two weeks out from election day.
Clad in Labour red, Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, voted just after 11am at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall in Auckland. Her vote was “two ticks Labour,” she told reporters who were invited along to witness the event, reports the Herald.
Gayford also voted for Labour and Ardern, he told reporters – she is the local candidate in the Mt Albert electorate. “He didn’t get a choice,” Ardern joked as the pair left the voting station.
She didn’t reveal how she voted in the two referendums, having earlier indicated she’d vote yes in the End of Life Choice referendum, but has declined to say which way she’ll go on legalising cannabis.
There were only a few other voters at the Mt Eden polling station this morning, says the Herald, a couple of whom told Ardern they’d voted for her as they passed. “Oh, thank you,” she replied.
The Grey Lynn Community Centre voting place, also in the Mt Albert electorate, appeared to be relatively busy with advance voters late this morning, but Spinoff dog Stanley was disappointed to learn he did not have the franchise.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw also cast his vote in Wellington this morning.
10.30am: Trump headed to hospital
American president Donald Trump is being taken to hospital where he’ll stay for several days, the White House has said in a statement.
The Marine One helicopter has arrived on the White House lawn to transport the president to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, CNN reports.
The White House doctor says Trump is “fatigued” and has received an experimental treatment for Covid-19.
Officials say 11 coronavirus cases have been linked to the US presidential debate held in Ohio on Tuesday, reports CNN.
8.00am: Trump experiencing ‘mild symptoms’; Biden and Pence test negative
American president Donald Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for Covid-19 yesterday, the White House says.
First lady Melania Trump has also tested positive for the virus, as have several others in the White House, but the Trumps’ son Barron has returned a negative test. The president revealed his test result in a tweet early yesterday evening NZ time (about 1am American time), after he had returned from an afternoon political fundraiser without telling the crowd he had been exposed to an aide with the virus.
The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who went head to head with Trump in a chaotic debate on Tuesday night US time (Wednesday afternoon NZ time), has tested negative, as has vice president Mike Pence. The virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, however.
Trump has spent much of the year downplaying the seriousness of Covid-19, refusing to wear a mask and continuing to shake hands with constituents. At Tuesday’s debate, the president said of Biden: “I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
7.00am: Advance voting opens today
Nearly 450 advance voting places open their doors this morning, with expectations around 60% of people could vote before election day on October 17.
Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said the number of early voting places will continue to rise over the next two weeks. On Saturday October 10, for example, Wright said there will be about 1,350 voting places open.
On election day itself, the number reaches about 2,600. You can find a list of voting places here.
“We have voting places in an enormous range of locations, from schools and church halls to mosques, marae, universities, clubrooms and libraries. There’s even a camping ground and adventure bike park. And in remote parts of electorates such as East Coast, Northland and West Coast-Tasman, we’ll have pop-ups in retail spaces,” Wright said.
In the last election, in 2017, 47% of votes were cast in advance, and it’s believed the number will rise this time.
“Our message is to vote early and vote local because it’s more convenient and minimises election day queues, which lessens the risk of Covid-19, said Wright.
“We’ll still be running the election as though the country were at alert level two, so there will be physical distancing, use of hand sanitiser, voluntary contact tracing, single-use pens to mark voting papers, and PPE on hand for staff in case it’s needed.”
She said about 400,000 eligible voters have yet to enrol, and they can do so – and vote – at any time up to and including election day.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw is getting in early, casting his vote at 9am this morning at the Sustainability Trust Wellington on Forresters Lane in Te Aro.
6.30am: Yesterday’s key stories
American president Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19, as did the first lady, Melania Trump.
There were no new cases of Covid-19, and no one in hospital with the virus.
The Ministry of Health said it believed one of the three people who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving managed isolation was infected via a rubbish bin.
The Māori Party toned down its strict immigration policy.
Labour announced its housing policy, which contains a pledge to repeal and replace the Resource Management Act.