With this weekend just passed being New Zealand's original election date and the passing of American legal legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I couldn't help but think politically.
Every election is important and having thus far dodged the catastrophic health crises most other countries in the world have experienced, New Zealand is faced with its own catastrophic economic consequences, those that my daughter and her children will likely see lingering into their futures.
Whole industries once deemed essential to our economic survival, like tourism, have been largely forgotten. No matter how many long weekends there are, it won't make up for international tourists. The education sector from lecturers to teachers, administrators to cleaners are about to feel the hit, with international students locked out. Let's hope the summer stone fruit and autumnal apples make it into our fruit bowls this year and don't languish unpicked.
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It's important to vote. I say if you don't vote you aren't entitled to an opinion on matters relating to anything political. Feel free to have opinions on the perils of the internet, undies vs togs, and whether Roger Federer will win another grand slam.
Not exercising your right to vote, which citizens of many countries still find difficult to do in the year 2020 for a myriad of reasons ranging from their gender to the fact that it's too violent to walk to the polls, is not a protest. It's just being lazy. People have fought hard for us to have this right and it's not one that should be taken for granted.
For many, New Zealand is the only country where we can vote despite so many of us living overseas. Countries including Australia, the US, Canada and India only allow citizens to vote, yet New Zealand is one of the few countries to also allow permanent residents to vote in general elections. And since lockdown, prisoners sentenced to less than three years have the right to vote too. There is no excuse not to do so.
Those of you reading from abroad and who haven't voted in some time or who think it's not important, should register to vote and do so. This year has proven the best laid plans can go awry, and you never know when you will return to New Zealand. Who knows what your future may hold, so if you are eligible, have your say.
New Zealand makes it easy to vote, given election day falls on a Saturday versus Tuesday in the US. A friend in New York, self-employed, was able to stand in line for four hours in 2016, but many are unable to take the time off and the evening yields even longer queues. US voter turnout was 56 per cent in 2016, compared to New Zealand's nearly 80 per cent in 2017. Let's be honest, ticking four boxes this year isn't a hardship.
And as important as voting is, let's make sure people understand our MMP system. MMP came into effect the first time I could vote, but for new voters it may be confusing. As we now know, winning the popular vote doesn't guarantee a win. Remember that more people in New Zealand voted for National than Labour, and that more people voted for Hilary Clinton than Donald Trump. I doubt the PM and the President have much in common, but there's a conversation starter.
With a month to go it's all policies, promises and selfies with crowds. With this election taking place against a level of global uncertainty none of us have seen before, make sure you and those you know get involved, be informed and vote.