What you need to know as election season kicks off

It's election time, so what do you need to know and what's different this time around?

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Politicians are spending their last week at Parliament before hitting the campaign trail full time, 1 NEWS political reporter Maiki Sherman reports. Source: 1 NEWS

Stand by for the glad-handing and the selfies, as politicians are spending their last week at Parliament before hitting the campaign trail.

Expect a lot more billboards and election hoardings to go up - but while the election's in your face, the date doesn't seem to be as well advertised.

Advance voting now begins on October 2 and goes through until Election Day on October 17. All voting ends at 7pm that night.

It gives voters a two-week window to have their say, with 750 advance voting booths open in the first week and ramping up to 1500 in the second week.

"What we wanted to do was to pull voting forward because there were quite a few queues on voting day, and so on the weekend before... we'll be in those communities across New Zealand," chief electoral officer Alicia Wright told 1 NEWS.

For the first time, that'll include voting booths at three mosques, including in Christchurch.

"Any location you can have that is part of their lives, part of their everyday routine, if someone can just go and vote at that convenient location it just means that they're more likely to vote," politics lecturer Lara Greaves says.

At the last election, the number of people enrolled to vote was around 3.3 million. More than 2.5 million cast their vote, for a turnout rate of 80 per cent. 

More than a million voters, around 47 per cent, voted early.  

Politicians are raring to go.

"We are putting New Zealanders first and we are putting our country first and that's what people are going to see," National leader Judith Collins says. 

"You are going to see a very strong game and I'll be everywhere."

Meanwhile, Labour leader and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also getting ready.

"The public will continue to hear our plan for the Covid recovery and rebuild and we're asking to keep going. We already have momentum with our five-point plan," she says.

Prisoners serving a sentence of less than three years will now be able to vote, and arrangements are underway for Kiwis in managed isolation.

"We'll be working with the NZDF and MBIE on how we do that in a way that's safe," Ms Wright says.

Around half a million New Zealanders eligible to vote still haven't enrolled; half of them are under the age of 30.

And while Covid-19 means bringing your own pen to the voting booth, it also means voting at the supermarket is no longer possible.

"We're really disappointed about that but what we needed to do was ensure that we had places that were large enough so that people could do that physical distancing," Ms Wright says.

There are also two referendums on the ballot this year - legalising cannabis and euthanasia - giving voters plenty to think about.