New election date clashes with university exams, deadlines

August 25, 2020

New election date clashes with university exams, deadlines

Deadlines, exams and voting come at the same time for tertiary students this election.

The delayed General Election means student will juggle exams and final assignments with choosing who to vote into Parliament, unless they vote early.

At Otago University students will be three days into their exam period when the election and two referendums take place on October 17.

Francesca Dykes, the political representative for the Otago University Students’ Association, says it will be hard for students to manage and will hurt already low youth voter turnout.

“We’re concerned about getting students to vote while they’re occupied with their exams, some may feel too busy and not get around to voting.”

However, she says the new date is favourable to an election in November, proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

“The November date would have been worse because that’s when students are in transition, for example they’re moving around the country for work.

“This could lead to them being registered in the wrong electorate or create confusion about where they can and cannot enrol”.

“With the election being in October we can at least provide resources to students and help encourage them to vote.”

Bryce Edwards, a political scientist at Victoria University, says the change will be harmful for the student vote.

“It seems likely that by shifting the date from September 19 to one month later at October 17,  right into the end of lectures and the start of assessment, there is likely to be a reduced student turnout in the election.”

The Electoral Commission said in a statement to Te Waha Nui it hoped students would put voting into their study plans.

“We have voting places at universities during advance voting and on election day which makes it easy to fit voting into a study schedule,” the commission said.

Victoria University and Canterbury University lectures end on October 16, AUT’s last day of lectures is October 23, while Auckland and Massey University’s lectures stop at the end of that month.

You can register to vote at: https://vote.nz/enrolling/enrol-or-update/enrol-or-update-online/

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