As the general election approaches, with just nine days until voting day, The Courier put five questions to Timaru registrar of electors Gisela Craig to find out more about her role in the elections.
Q. Tell us about your role.
Electoral Office is open all year round.
The registrars of electors all over the country, along with the deputy registrars, maintain and administer the parliamentary electoral rolls.
We make sure that the roll is as accurate as possible when it comes to an election, by-election or referendum.
Another large part of our role is to inform the public about enrolment qualifications, the voting process and the political system in New Zealand.
We liaise with many stakeholders, like schools, community groups, tertiary education providers, NZ Post and local councils to update electors’ details or enrol them for the first time.
Q. Is the role year-round or does it exist only in an election year?
Since people are always on the move, we need to make sure we keep the rolls up to date.
It’s not just for general elections, but for other electoral events like a referendum or by-election, and the Maori electoral option, which is held every five years.
We also give information to local councils so they can compile their electoral rolls for local body elections.
Q. What do you enjoy about the role? What are the challenges and highlights of it?
Keeping things “tidy” is what I like about updating electors’ details.
For me, most enjoyable is the contact with the community and the sense of helping people having their say. We are doing all we can to make a person’s vote count.
Unfortunately, we still get hundreds of letters returned to us when electors have moved and forgotten to update their records – so make sure you update your details with us if you move house.
Q. What can you tell us about enrolment figures in the Rangitata electorate?
Rangitata has a relatively high enrolment figure compared with the rest of the country.
However, that will not stop us from doing all we possibly can to get every last person enrolled or their details updated. We expect that many more forms will be received in the days leading up to Friday, September 22, which is the last day people can enrol to vote in the election.
You can enrol at any advance voting place, but you can’t enrol on election day itself.
Some figures for you: As of September 5, we had nearly 90% of eligible voters enrolled.
We are still looking at raising the 79% of younger voters who are enrolled.
Q. What is the most interesting story you have from your time as registrar?
It is always a highlight when we can actually help a person to enrol and tell them that they qualify.
We follow up with the motivation to vote as well. This is what makes our day – and enrolling a bulk of 150 students at one school alone feels great.
What a great opportunity the schools provide, not only for us, but to all of New Zealand.
A big thank you for all the schools in our region who welcome us every year.