'Disgusting' - Voters frustrated after electorates struggle with Māori roll for advance voting

Source: 1News

Blunders at the polling booths are leaving Māori voters frustrated, after at least two electorates couldn't find the Māori roll.

For Tāmaki Makaurau voter Naomi Taueki-Scott, it was her first chance to vote in an election.

But what should have been simple turned out to be an ordeal.

"Basically they were trying to find the Māori roll out the back and they just said, 'Sorry, we can't find it,'" she told 1 NEWS.

It took 40 minutes for her to cast a special vote instead, however there were more issues.

Instead of getting a voting paper for the Māori seat, she was given the paper for the general seat.

"I felt really frustrated as a rangatahi Māori (Māori youth) that I wasn't able to vote for the first time in two minutes like everyone else, because it's given me a bad first-time voting experience," Taueki-Scott said.

Similar issues arose in Christchurch for Te Tai Tonga voter Daniel Hapuku.

After arriving with his wife and two youngest children, they too were told there were no forms for the Māori electorate of Te Tai Tonga and they instead had to cast a special vote.

Special votes take longer to be counted, with the deadline 10 days after election day. Normally they're for people casting a vote outside their electorate and other cases.

"Everybody has a democratic right to vote, but we had to cast special votes within our own general electorate," Hupuku said.

"I feel ashamed that I came to vote with my family and when I arrived my voting papers had not arrived."

While he waited to cast his vote, Hupuku says he saw people from outside the Christchurch East electorate coming through to vote.

"I thought it was disgusting, it really was frustrating. You feel quite embarrassed having to do that as well, while other people are walking in and out, staring at you," he said.

Graeme Astle, the head of voting services, says this shouldn't have happened.

"I'd just like to apologise if anyone's been inconvenienced. They should have been able to be given an ordinary vote," he said.

He says the rush on advance voting may have meant the first run of papers ran out.

"But now all of the papers have been distributed to the electorate headquarters so we're not short on papers anywhere in New Zealand."

For Taueki-Scott's case where the papers simply couldn't be found, Astle says he understands the papers for the Māori roll were "misplaced".

"We're happy that we've been told that there's been some issues and we've had the opportunity to correct these issues. We should not be making these mistakes anymore."

More than a quarter of a million people have voted so far, in the first three days of advance voting.

Yesterday alone, 110,000 ballots were cast across the country, bringing the total to 271,000 votes to date.

Advance voting runs until the election day on October 17.