The Electoral Commission is undertaking “a full check” of the country’s voting results after a Herald investigation led to three booths being found to have wrongly assigned hundreds of votes to fringe parties, while the National Party received none.
The commission has admitted a data entry error led to hundreds of votes being assigned to the Leighton Baker Party and the New Conservatives.
“A full check of all voting place results is being undertaken immediately to establish if there are any other transcription errors,” the commission said.
The affected parties are National, Labour, Greens, NZ First and Te Pāti Māori, as well as a number of small parties that did not reach Parliament. Some of these parties are likely to have their final vote count revised up or down following the review.
Chief Electoral Officer Karl Le Quesne said the number of votes involved was low and had little impact on the party vote.
“It does not affect the overall results, successful candidates or allocation of seats at all.”
Quesne said some party votes were recorded in the incorrect “row” for two voting places in the Port Waikato electorate and one voting place in Ilam.
At the Pukekohe Intermediate voting station in the Port Waikato electorate, 505 votes were incorrectly assigned to the Leighton Baker Party when they should have gone to National.
At the electorate’s Karaka Pavilion at the NZ Bloodstock Centre, 15 votes went to the New Conservatives when the ballots were for National.
In Ilam, at the Wolfbrook Arena in Addington, National was recorded as receiving zero votes when they should have had 18.
This error also affected the recorded vote for seven more parties.
The Herald has approached the National Party for comment.
Leighton Baker, who was the former leader of the New Conservative Party, told the Herald he was pleased the error had been identified.
The Leighton Baker Party has a political aim of “pure democracy” in which the public are consulted on all legislation being passed and can vote to veto it within 100 days. Baker – father of alt-broadcaster Chantelle Baker – is passionate about democracy but was not expecting to reap its benefits at the election.
He told the Herald ahead of polling day: “Being brutally honest, at this stage there’s no indicators showing I’m going to be working in Wellington next year.”
The official result as it was displayed on the Electoral Commission website at 5pm on Tuesday shows the Leighton Baker Party received 2629 votes or 0.09 per cent.
Quesne said the commission apologised that the data entry errors were not picked up in the checks made before the official results were published.
“They should have been corrected and we regret that didn’t happen.
“A full check of all voting place results is being undertaken immediately to establish if there are any other transcription errors.”
The certificates for the results will be updated and signed by the Returning Office (Electorate Manager) and a Justice of the Peace. Any scrutineers who were present for those official counts can also be present when the results are updated, the commission said.
Acting Electoral Commission Board chairwoman Jane Meares said she has full confidence in the integrity of the election process and the results.
“A large amount of data needs to be entered to produce the results for a general election, and some mistakes due to human error can occur. However, the board will commission an independent review of the quality assurance processes in place,” Meares said.
In the final result, released last Friday, National gained 38.06 per cent of votes, Labour gained 26.91 per cent and Green received 11.60 per cent.
Act got 8.64 per cent of votes, NZ First received 6.08 per cent and Te Pāti Māori gained 3.08 per cent.
There will be 122 seats in Parliament, an overhang of two seats. National has 48 seats, Labour has 34, the Greens have 15, Act has 11 and Te Pāti Māori has six seats.
Overall, 2.9m people voted in the election and 21 per cent of people (or 603, 257) cast a special vote.
The Electoral Commission takes about three weeks to count the votes and confirm the official election result. By the time the official result is declared, the commission would have counted every single vote at least twice. It is also validating the result during this time, ensuring everyone who voted was eligible too, and nobody voted twice.
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