Mark Sainsbury: No excuses for any of us to abstain from election duty

Polling booth sign
Polling booth sign at NZ General Elections. Photo credit: Newshub

OPINION: As a political reporter, I have colleagues who refuse to vote for fear of appearing biased. I think that's bonkers.

If you are one of the more than 300,000 who haven't enrolled for tomorrow's General Election, Friday is your last chance.

You can still walk into a polling booth, sign up and then cast a vote, but tomorrow is for voting only - no more enrolments.

Why is that so important? Well, you shouldn't need me pontificating on how so many sacrificed so much for the right to vote.

This is how we select the Members of Parliament that represent you and me, and if you don't have your say, the whole process becomes a mockery.

There's no excuse any longer that this is a boring election between boring candidates. If the Jacinda Ardern factor has achieved one thing, it has forced everyone else to lift their games.

We all have opinions - you do, I do, my media colleagues do - so not voting doesn't remove any internal bias, it just whitewashes it.

As a political editor I had my own private opinions, but part of the responsibility of being a reporter was to suspend those opinions and simply report.

If you were any good at your job, most of the people you dealt with didn't know your politics or couldn't tell.

So I fully intend to vote, but to be honest, I am still weighing up HOW I will vote.

I'm one of those who often leave it to the last minute, and I can't help but think about the strategy behind the process. How can I make my vote count the most?

One thing you must remember is, under our two-vote system, it's your party vote that counts most. Do what you like in your local electorate - the party vote alone will determine the make-up of the next Parliament.

One exception is a seat like Epsom, where tactical voting could see National voters could elect an ACT MP, while still party-voting National - that does have an impact.

Casting an electoral vote to the Greens or TOP or even NZ First will not help them one iota unless they have a reasonable chance of winning that seat, like Winston Peters does in Northland.

The point some still seem to miss is that the make-up of Parliament is really decided by your party vote - that's the important one.  

Good luck with whichever way you cast your vote tomorrow.

Mark Sainsbury hosts Morning Talk from 9am-midday on RadioLIVE.