Early votes popular as poll nears
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.
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.
Electoral worker David McKee congratulates first time voters Casey Ogilvie and Josh Smolenski at the Richmond Mall advance voting place yesterday.