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Advance polling popular
September 2014
Catherine, Rose, and Linda taking plenty of early votes at the Waikanae Library

Linda Todd, returning officer, says there has been a steady stream of early voters at the Waikanae Library and this trend is happening across the country.

"Voting early is best and it's good for voters to get it out of the way," says Linda.

So far three times as many people have voted than in the last election. Over 94,000 have voted so far which is way ahead of the 36,556 who had voted at the same time in 2011!

However there is a warning to voters to think twice before taking an election selfie with your ballot paper - you could be breaking the law.

The advance voting period began this week, and already early bird voters are sweeping social media, posting photos of themselves at the polling booth.

Among them were Labour leader David Cunliffe, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei, and Internet-Mana benefactor Kim Dotcom.

Others, including Labour MP Trevor Mallard, have shared photos of their completed ballot papers, prompting warnings they risked falling foul of the Electoral Act.

Internet-Mana leader Laila Harre tweeted yesterday: "Reminder that it's against electoral law to post pics of your ballot paper."

The Electoral Commission advised candidates and supporters to exercise caution when it came to publishing or distributing material that included a ballot paper. This particularly applied to social media where material could be shared, reshared or reposted on election day.

Chief electoral officer Robert Peden said the commission "absolutely" encouraged people to share photos of themselves wearing their "I've voted" sticker once they were outside the voting place.

However, photography and filming in voting places was not allowed without prior approval. Therefore taking selfies while behind the voting screen was "not a good idea", he said.

Under section 197 of the act, it is against the law to distribute anything purporting to be an imitation of a ballot paper on election day or in the three days leading up to it.

It is also strictly prohibited to publish any statement on election day that is likely to influence voters.

Breaking these rules could result in a fine of up to $20,000.

Peden said publishing a photo of a completed voting paper in the advance voting period would not appear to breach the act.

However, it was contrary to the spirit and purpose of the secrecy provisions and provisions forbidding the distribution of imitation ballot papers.

 
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