When will we know the election result? Pretty early, probably.

What time will we know the NZ election result – and what about the referendums?

Everything you need to know about the timings for Saturday and beyond. 

When will the election result be known?

Polls close at 7pm on Saturday October 17. And we’ll get a pretty good idea of how the parties have done very soon after that.

How soon?

For the first time, the majority of New Zealand voters have cast their ballots well before “election day” rolls around. The advance vote, as of close of play Wednesday, numbered more than 1.5 million – by Saturday it’s likely seven in 10 voters will have exercised their franchise.


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Great. So how soon will we know?

Advance votes will be counted from 9am on election day (Saturday). Ordinary votes (those cast on Saturday) will be counted from 7pm. Special votes are counted after election day.

This is fascinating, but when will we know the result?

We’ll know the big picture very quickly. Those advance vote numbers will start rolling in soon after 7pm, and in all likelihood we’ll have a pretty wide-angle view by as soon as 7.12pm.

7.12pm? Are you out of your mind?

In the last two elections, advance votes have mapped closely on to final results.

At the last election, the results published at 7.12 pm recorded 3% of the vote counted. That’s a big sample.

To be specific, in 2017, at 7.12pm we had National on 45.9%, Labour on 36.6%, NZ First on 7.1%, the Greens on 6.1% and Act on 0.5%.

The final 2017 election result had National on 44.4%, Labour on 36.9%, NZ First 7.2%, the Greens 6.3% and Act 0.5%.

The numbers will of course wobble around a bit early on, but we’re going to be in a position to make a call on whether the polls were right, and Jacinda Ardern will be the prime minister again, or Judith Collins might have pulled off a big upset, very early. We’ll know, too, which of the Greens, Act, NZ First or other small parties are in line to hit the 5% threshold.


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What about the seats that matter?

If we’re looking for edge of the seat action, the Māori Party’s hopes of returning to parliament rest on three seats: Tamaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauāuru and Waiariki. If they’re close, these seats could run deep into the night, or even on to specials. And Auckland Central, maybe, too.

When will the referendum results be announced?

Votes on the cannabis legalisation referendum and the referendum on assisted dying aka the End of Life Choice bill, will not be counted on the night. Preliminary referendum results will be revealed on Friday October 30. Official results for both the general election and the referendums will be announced on Friday November 6.

Where can I see the latest election results?

Right here on this website. We’ll have the latest numbers, updated every 10 seconds. And analysis, and Toby Morris illustrations, and video, it will be a lot of fun.

But is there an official site?

Rude. But yes. Here.


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What are the counting targets?

The Electoral Commission is aiming to have 50% of results available by 10pm and 95% of results available by 11.30pm.

What about the special votes?

The specials are a mix. There are the votes cast abroad. There are votes cast out of electorate (nothing wrong with doing that, perfectly noble). And there are votes cast when you enrol at the same time. This includes advance votes and, for the first time, election day votes – you can now enrol and vote at the same time on Saturday. A blessing for anyone who loves to run the deadline close. But because of the checking required, these will be special votes.

How many special votes can we expect?

Hard to say whether the Covid-19 upending of the world will change the number of overseas votes, but what we do know is that 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.


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Do we need to wait for specials for coalition making?

Last time round, NZ First waited for special votes to come in before negotiating, and fair enough – the Greens and Labour both gained seats, which changed the overall composition of the house.

And this time?

If the opinion polls are right, the specials will matter chiefly insofar as determining whether Labour needs the Greens to form a government, and by how much – if they’re looking unstable without the Greens, that substantially increases the Greens’ negotiating hand.

So when will we get the final, final, final results?

Friday November 6. If it’s clear how the house seats will be allocated, coalition negotiations, if required, will begin before then.

Will it be over soon?

Yes. It will be over soon. Sleep now. Sleep.



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