I don't think I've seen an election where the hunger for the party vote has been so profound.
The exception would probably be the Act Party, which at 0.3 per cent in the polls has no hope of survival unless David Seymour wins Epsom. But for everyone else, the party vote is the best chance for influence - or existence.
The difficulty with this is that it gives voters a lot of mixed messages. Most in our voting generation are still attuned to the person who will represent an electorate in Parliament, a legacy of first-past-the-post days. But now, it feels like the party policy is everything, and the candidates are incidental - just local colour.
This is not a bad thing for the Green Party; they are more practised than most when it comes to their strategy for getting into Parliament, and are pretty open about it. It works for them. But it makes my skin crawl to realise how low we've come with the likes of the Internet Mana Party, a nonsensical pairing that reeks of money and desperation. The Conservatives sense their time has come with the five per cent threshold.
NZ First can see a second term with MPs in the house, thanks to the party vote.
In Wairarapa, we are fortunate that we do have candidates of character. Alastair Scott is running a quieter campaign than his Labour counterpart, and is pushing the party vote message, but wants to represent this electorate. The same can be said of Kieran McAnulty, who opted out of the party list. And while NZ First could have had some random face in Wairarapa to boost the party, I would think Ron Mark would genuinely like to be the elected candidate.
Remember, your party vote chooses your government, so you're going to have to listen to policy. But don't lose sight of the person you think will best speak for you.