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The election is on October 14. Image: Archi Banal
The election is on October 14. Image: Archi Banal

PoliticsOctober 13, 2023

When will we know the NZ election result?

The election is on October 14. Image: Archi Banal
The election is on October 14. Image: Archi Banal

Everything you need to know about when things will unfold on Saturday night and beyond. 

What time do results come in?

The polls close at 7pm on Saturday October 14. And we’ll get a pretty good idea of how accurate the opinion polls were very swiftly after that.

How swiftly?

Very. Well over a million advance votes will have been cast around the country between October 2 and 13, and the count of these ballots will get under way on Saturday morning. These are the first results that come through progressively after 7pm.

When exactly?

Last time around the first results were posted by the Electoral Commission at around 7.04pm. About 3% of the overall vote was there at 7.12pm. We’ll have a live feed of the party numbers as they’re posted on this very website so stay tuned.

How reliable is that early vote? 

They’re worth approaching with some caution, the early numbers for individual electorates especially. But as far as the party vote is concerned, it’s almost immediately going to be a big sample size. In 2020, we at the Spinoff were confident enough at 7.20pm to call the election for Labour – the landslide was already clear.

What if advance votes skew in a particular direction?

The last couple of elections suggest they come very close. For example:


When are votes cast on election day counted?

These are called “ordinary” votes and they’re counted from 7pm. “Special” votes are counted after election day.

If I cast an ordinary vote does that define me as a person?

No. Whenever you vote you are special.

How are votes counted?

They’re counted by human hand. Contrary to some misinformation that has floated about with a whiff of importing conspiracy, New Zealand categorically does not use vote counting machines.

And how long until we get most of the results?

The Electoral Commission target is to post results from 50% of voting places by 10pm and 95% by 11.30pm.

What about the electorates?

Results will flow in for electorates through the night, too. These are more likely to fluctuate based on votes rolling in from particular booths. For a quick summary of the electorate races likely to be tight, see our roundup here.

What are special votes?

These include votes cast abroad, but a common misconception is that these account for the majority of “specials”. All votes cast out of your own electorate are special votes (including, this election, both Christoper Luxon and Chris Hipkins’ advance votes). If you enrol and vote at the same time that’s also going to be counted as a special vote. These can can come in up to 10 days after election day.

How many special votes can we expect?

In 2017 there were 446,287 – roughly 17% of the total – special votes cast. Of those, roughly one in seven – 61,524 – was cast overseas. It was a similar story in 2020. There were 504,625 special votes, again 17% of the total, with about one in eight overseas.

When will the final result of the election, including special votes, be revealed?

The official results will be published on Friday November 3.

When do coalition talks begin?

They can crack on pretty much immediately. In some cases, such as 2017, the numbers are balanced such that parties will taihoa on the crunchy stuff until the special votes are revealed. 

And when do coalition talks end?

In 2017, talks took about four weeks. The longest negotiations were after the first MMP election in 1996, when negotiations lasted two months. If that seems like a long time, consider the Belgian example: after an election in 2010 it took 541 days of negotiations to form a government.

What did the last polls say?

They pointed to a National victory, but one that would require support from both Act and NZ First to govern.

The average above, translated into parliament (and assuming Te Pāti Māori wins at least one electorate), would give National 45 seats, Labour 36, the Greens 16, Act 11, NZ First nine, and TPM three. National is likely to win a byelection in Port Waikato on November 25, giving the party another seat in what would become a 121-seat parliament.

And when will the second election be held?

Don’t even.

Keep going!