Nelson’s political candidates are backing a move by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to delay the election to October 17.
Ardern said on Monday that the re-emergence of Covid-19 in the community was a cause for concern during the election period.
She said, while the Electoral Commission said voting could safely happen under Alert Level 2, she also had to factor in participation of voters, fairness and certainty.
Nelson Labour candidate Rachel Boyack says it is just a short delay of a month to make sure the Electoral Commission can deliver a safe election.
It was previously scheduled for September 19.
“It’s particularly important that people feel safe and comfortable when they go and vote.”
Rachel says there have been plenty of events cancelled under Level 2 as well as political parties generally suspending their campaigns.
“[The delay] means that everyone has a fair shot and people have a chance to campaign.”
Nelson MP and National candidate Nick Smith says the focus needs to be on making sure Covid-19 does not re-emerge in the Nelson region.
“It would have been a distraction to have an election occurring at the same time.”
He says that the delay will make for a fairer campaign, but we don’t know if this second wave of Covid-19 will be able to be quickly isolated or if it will “drag out”.
Nick says he wants to be supportive of the Government in such an emergency, but he also wants to be able to ask the “hard questions”, particularly around perceived errors at the border.
Greens candidate Aaron Stallard says while the whole situation is “unsettling”, delaying the election is a good move as it satisfied everyone.
“The greater number of weeks we can engage, then the better for democracy.”
ACT candidate Chris Bailie says he and the party are “pretty happy” with the delay.
“It had to happen to make things free and fair. We have to get out and about and meet the people and listen to people. It just levels the playing field.”
Matthew Pottinger of The Opportunities Party says he has been campaigning since February.
“So whilst the extra four weeks may prove useful to any candidates who’ve left it to the last minute, I can’t say my campaign will be in any way affected. I will however use that extra time as creatively as possible to raise awareness of TOP’s key policy of a Universal Basic Income to remove the welfare trap, make work pay and to stimulate the regional economies that have been hit hard with the impacts of Covid-19.”
Bruce Dyer of the Progressive Party says he thought the delay was fair and provides more time to establish the party’s presence.
Sue Grey of the Outdoors Party says the delay of the election was made necessary by the “ongoing uncertainty and paranoia” about Covid-19.
Meanwhile, 827 people in Nelson have been tested for Covid-19, which has killed 22 people in New Zealand and more than 700,000 worldwide.
Events around the region have also been cancelled while the region remains in Level 2.
However, the Nelson Farmers Market in Kirby Lane is still open at Level 2.
They have spaced out the gazebo to enable social distancing and ask all customers to use hand sanitizer, contact trace and practice social distancing.
While Nelson is at Level 2 the market will also open on Saturdays.