New Zealand’s Electoral Commission has unveiled safety measures designed to allow a national election to proceed as planned in September despite the coronavirus threat.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the September 19 election date in January, before the global scale of the contagion was apparent, and has repeatedly said she does not plan to move it.
With New Zealand set to end a seven-week lockdown in the coming days, the Electoral Commission said it had held discussions with health authorities about how to stage the vote safely.
“This year’s election will be different because of COVID-19, a range of measures will be in place to help keep people safe,” the body said.
Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said these included queue management, physical distancing, hand sanitisers alongside ballot boxes and protective gear for people staffing voting stations.
Furthermore, Advance voting and postal voting will be encouraged, particularly for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.