Strong moves to increase New Zealand voter turnout will include trialling advance voting places in supermarkets in this year's election.
The Electoral Commission is setting up advance voting places where people naturally congregate - like supermarkets. Advance voting facilities are also being prepped as "one stop shops" - where those eligible can enrol and vote in a single action between September 11 and 22.
It's all part of a call to arms Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright describes as: "Enrolling is cool; voting is even better. Enrolling is only the first step, now it's about helping more people to vote."
In all, 480 advance voting places will be set up in in locations ranging from libraries and transport hubs to universities and supermarkets, encouraging a form of voting that has grown significantly in recent years. In the 2014 election, almost 30 per cent of voters cast their vote ahead of election day.
Wright says the trend - which has almost trebled since the 2008 elections - shows lifestyle factors are among the barriers affecting New Zealand voter turnout.
Like most countries (Wright says New Zealand is about "the middle of the pack" internationally), the decline in eligible voters participating in elections has been an issue here. Since the 1940s, voter turnout has dropped from about 95 per cent to the mid-70s per cent in the 2010s (77.9 per cent in the last election in 2014).
Australia (where voting is compulsory) is the world leader but has seen turnout drop from 92 per cent to 81 per cent over the same period. While New Zealand is well ahead of the UK (60 per cent turnout in the 2010 decade) and Canada (54 per cent), our drop has been particularly steep and consistent, according to the commission after the 2014 election.
That election saw a slight recovery from 2011 and the commission's research on the 2011 and 21014 elections showed three of the key reasons given for not voting were: "Other priorities", "had to work on the day" and "couldn't be bothered".
Wright says: "So we will have more advance voting places than in 2014, set up in places like supermarket which are easy to get to and where people go to as part of their daily lives. For the first time, people will be able to walk in, enrol and vote in one fell swoop, a one-stop shop."
Voters can enrol right up to September 22 and Wright says there is always a significant spike in enrolments in the remaining days before the election. Latest figures show that, from an eligible population of about 3.5 million, about 3.15m have been enrolled - about 90 per cent.
Now, she says, the focus is also shifting to helping those eligible to vote to be motivated to do so - particularly young people.
In common with the rest of the world, youth voting figures (18-24 and 25-29 year-olds) in New Zealand have been low.
This year, out of an estimated eligible population of 452,070, only 66 per cent of 18-24 year-olds have enrolled so far - a difference of 155,000. Yet the 18-24s are the single biggest voting bloc in New Zealand aside from the over-70s (who boast 100 per cent enrolment of eligible voters).
Based on 2014 voting figures, it takes only 125,000 votes for a party to achieve the five per cent threshold to be able to supply list MPs - so even the 155,000 un-enrolled youth could have a serious impact on the party vote if they were to participate.
While youth apathy is usually held up as the culprit, Wright differs: "My experience as a whole has been that people are genuinely interested in the direction of the government and the country and have a genuine desire to join in."
Youth voters had three main reasons for not voting, she says:
• "The political system doesn't work for them or they say it works fine without them."
• "They are very busy, too much so to vote."
• "They are not sure who to vote for."
"That's not really apathy - we as a nation have to understand these [young] people are super-busy, are trying to get on with their lives, are struggling with several different problems and sometimes voting is not seen as a top priority."
There may not be a single, urgent issue that could spark a huge youth turnout - like the so-called "youthquake" that helped shape the snap election in the UK following the Brexit decision, where British youth felt older people had bent the nation to their political will.
"But we can make it easier for people to vote," says Wright, "and we can make it clear to young people that their vote is a powerful one and that it really can count - and that you don't need to be an expert to vote, as everybody knows what issues are important to them as an individual."
As part of that drive, the commission has been using social media and videos using real young people in the Your Vote Is Your Voice campaign, aimed at encouraging Kiwis, especially young people, to vote. The videos feature young Kiwis from various backgrounds to help build confidence in voting and its relevance to them.
*The videos can be seen here; this article is a first in a small series looking at young people and their paths to becoming committed voters.
For everything you need to know about enrolling and voting, visit ivotenz.org.nz