'Provocative' campaign encourages Kiwis abroad to 'meddle' in election, by voting

A brand strategist is using “provocative” means to get Kiwis abroad to “meddle” in the upcoming election by casting a vote from overseas, as voting from overseas opens today.

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The Every Kiwi Vote Counts campaign wants New Zealanders abroad to vote in the election. Source: Breakfast

Returned Kiwi, former overseas voter and brand strategist Tracey Lee told TVNZ1’s Breakfast her non-partisan initiative Every Kiwi Vote Counts aimed to increase overseas voter participation in the general election. 

She said the campaign featured a Russian national because Kiwis often used humour to get their message across. 

“Don’t be alarmed, New Zealand, when we have … a Russian national inviting overseas Kiwis to meddle in the election,” Lee said. 

“We’ve used a very provocative device, but it is with quite pure intent about getting participation.”

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She said it was a “sad irony” that Russian authorities were more active in influencing national elections than eligible overseas Kiwi voters. 

Despite offshore Kiwis representing the equivalent of 20 per cent of the population in New Zealand, only an estimated one in 10 eligible overseas voters cast a ballot in 2017 according to Electoral Commission data. 

“We are a team of six million. The same way we want to make sure young people vote, having another 20 per cent of our population that is part of the New Zealand ethos and what makes us, us, is really critical,” Lee said.

She said Kiwis overseas also tended to return to New Zealand and maintain connections in the country, meaning their vote was important. 

Lee said the campaign was also trying to educate overseas voters by busting myths. 

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For example, she said some people didn’t realise they could cast an overseas vote online. 

“Part of this is an emotional thing in terms of actually waking people up to the need to vote.

“Part of it is a practical thing in terms of the scale because people think they don’t have an impact.”

Citizens who have enrolled and visited New Zealand since the last election are eligible to vote from overseas. Permanent residents who have visited the country in the past 12 months are also eligible.