MMP explained: How your vote actually counts

New Zealanders will head to the polling booth in October to decide who will lead the country for the next three years.

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1 NEWS online’s political reporter Anna Whyte explains how your vote works under MMP. Source: 1 NEWS

Election day is now Saturday, October 17, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delayed it from the original date of September 19 due to a new coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.

New election timetable:

September 6: Parliament dissolves

September 13: Writ Day, nominations close 18 September

October 3: Advance voting begins, last day for return of the writ is 12 November

October 17: Election day

In this year’s election, voters will have four ticks on their ballots.

There will be one tick for the referendum on cannabis and one tick for the end of life referendum.

Under New Zealand’s political system - Mixed Member Proportional or MMP - voters get one tick for a political party and one for an electorate candidate.

The party vote is for the party you want to run the country while the electorate vote is for the candidate you want to represent the area where you live.

The candidate that wins the most votes in your area then becomes a Member of Parliament.

Parliament is usually made up of 120 seats and of those 72 are electorate seats - 65 of those being general seats and seven Māori seats.

The rest of the seats are made up from the party vote.

The more party votes a party gets, the more of those remaining seats the party gets in Parliament.

However, they must get at least five per cent of the party vote or win an electorate seat to enter Parliament.

Once the seats are all allocated, it’s generally the case that often no single party can govern alone. They often have to negotiate with other parties to form a government.

This can take weeks, with smaller parties in the driver’s seat deciding who will lead the country.