Early votes pop­u­lar as poll nears

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - WAR­REN GAM­BLE

Ad­vance votes in the Nel­son elec­torate con­tinue to stream in as can­di­dates for the ‘‘bell­weather’’ seat trade claims over a phone poll.

There were queues of early vot­ers at Rich­mond Mall on Satur­day, and a steady stream again yes­ter­day, as people took ad­van­tage of the ad­vance voting places that have been open since last Mon­day.

As of Fri­day more than 308,000 New Zealan­ders had cast their votes, well ahead of three years ago. Ad­vance voting places will be open this week in the Nel­son and West Coast-Tas­man elec­torates [for de­tails see elec­tions.org,nz].

Mean­while, the Green Party Nel­son can­di­date Matt Lawrey has claimed that in­ter­nal polling has re­vealed a close race for the Nel­son seat be­tween him­self, longterm in­cum­bent Na­tional MP Nick Smith and Labour’s Rachel Boy­ack.

How­ever, his two ri­vals have dis­missed the poll as lack­ing cred­i­bil­ity.

Lawrey said an au­to­mated phone poll con­ducted last Wed­nes­day by the Green Party showed 29 per cent sup­port for Smith, 25 per cent for Boy­ack and 23 per cent for him.

An­other 23 per cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers were un­de­cided. The poll had 824 re­ponses, and a mar­gin of er­ror of 3.1 per cent.

Lawrey said the poll showed a surge in sup­port for the Green can­di­dacy com­pared to the 2014 elec­tion re­sults that saw the Green can­di­date win 9 per cent of the vote. It also showed the col­lapse of Smith’s 52 per cent of the vote from three years ago, he said.

‘‘We’re con­vinced that as we head into the last days of the cam­paign, the mo­men­tum is with us,’’ Lawrey said.

How­ever, Smith, who has been a Nel­son MP for 27 years, said au­to­mated phone polls had lit­tle cred­i­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly as last week’s one was in­tro­duced as be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the Green Party.

More than 30 Na­tional sup­port­ers had told his of­fice they had hung up when phoned, show­ing the poll re­sults were com­pletely skewed. ‘‘It’s more a pr ex­er­cise by the Green Party to talk their man up than any cred­i­ble as­sess­ment of Nel­son.’’

Smith said he ex­pected the elec­tion, lo­cally and na­tion­ally, to be close, but he re­mained con­fi­dent. Nel­son was a bell­weather seat where the party vote had gone with the Gov­ern­ment since 1999.

Boy­ack also dis­missed the au­to­mated poll as ‘‘no­to­ri­ously un­re­li­able’’. Labour mem­bers had told her they had hung up after hear­ing the pre-recorded mes­sage from the Green Party.

Boy­ack said her team had knocked on 6000 doors and phoned about 3000 people. Feed­back had shown a surge of sup­port for Labour na­tion­ally and for her pos­i­tive lo­cal cam­paign on is­sues such as bet­ter ac­cess to health ser­vices and im­proved wa­ter qual­ity.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/NEL­SON MAIL

Se­nior Sergeant Grant Andrews and Betty Soane of the Te Korowai Trust are be­hind the Nel­son Com­mu­nity In­for­ma­tion Day of­fer­ing free ad­vice on a range of is­sues in­clud­ing car seat safety.

LUZ ZUNIGA/NEL­SON MAIL

Elec­toral worker David McKee con­grat­u­lates first time vot­ers Casey Ogilvie and Josh Smolen­ski at the Rich­mond Mall ad­vance voting place yes­ter­day.

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