Digging through the data: The election's weirdest voting-booth stats

Digging through the data: The election's weirdest voting-booth stats
Photo credit: Getty

Every election, voters come out in force to support the party they believe best represents them and wider society.

This year, as with most years, National and Labour took out the majority of seats in Parliament, while New Zealand First and the Greens swallowed up most of the rest and ACT claimed just one.

Most electorates more or less reflect that picture, but sometimes, when you take an even closer look at the voting booths within those electorates, the numbers can surprise you.

Here are the weirdest and most interesting tales from the polling booths from the 2017 election.

St Heliers School loves an underdog

When you think of St Heliers - a beachside east Auckland suburb adjacent to affluent Remuera and Mission Bay - you'd bet on local voters opting for National. Perhaps, being so close to ACT stronghold, Epsom may even convince them to give David Seymour their seal of approval.

But voters at St Heliers School bucked that notion, claiming the title for being the New Zealand People's Party's most successful voting booth, with 11 percent of the party vote in that booth. They were also among The Opportunities Party's biggest supporters, with 11 percent of voters also opting for Gareth Morgan's party.

The Māori Party reigns supreme… at Māori schools

Obviously, this was a disappointing campaign for the Māori Party, with the final outcome resulting in Labour beating it in all Māori electorates, tears for co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and no seats in Parliament. 

But they can at least lay claim to getting great results at several schools countrywide.

The party received a huge 85.1 percent of the votes at Lee Stream School in Southland and another 56.9 percent at Linkwater School in Kaikōura, with eight of the party's top 11 polling booths at schools. 

The secret is many of the schools were in areas with a high Māori population or with a dedicated Māori educational strategy.

ACT only notably popular at one voting booth

The ACT Party is starting to become part of the furniture in the Epsom electorate - the home of right-wing party leader David Seymour - where it has now won the seat five times in a row.

So it might surprise you that the voting booth where ACT was most popular wasn't anywhere near the central Auckland suburb - it was at Mapiu School in Taranaki-King Country. 

That booth saw ACT garner 20.9 percent of the vote, more than twice as many as any other booth and 21 times more than the party received nationwide (0.51 percent).

In Epsom, voters backed National with 61.1 percent of the party vote, while tactically voting in Mr Seymour as the local candidate. St Mark's Church Hall was the only Epsom booth to crack ACT's top 50 best booths, with just 5.2 percent of the party vote.

The Internet Party bombs, but gets colossal support from one booth

With founder Kim Dotcom opting not to make the high-profile push for votes he did in the 2014 election, The Internet Party was always destined to fail. 

That it did, under the leadership of Moscow-based Suzie Dawson, garnering a meagre 0.007 percent of votes.

Against all odds, however, the Internet Party earned a whopping 63.5 percent of the vote at a booth at Reporoa Settlers Hall in Waiariki.

The Internet Party's next best result was at Endeavour School in the Waikato suburb of Flagstaff, but that was a comparatively tiny 4.1 percent.

Prisons love the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

One of the talking points heading into the 2017 election was whether any of the major parties would move to legalise or decriminalise cannabis use. 

Barring the Greens, they all ultimately said they wouldn't, which might explain the groundswell of support for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party coming from prison teams in Whanganui and Rangitikei (19.8 and 16.4 percent respectively).

However, the votes haven't come from inmates locked up for cannabis-related crimes, as prisoners aren't allowed to vote in New Zealand. The votes have most likely come from family and friends of the jailbirds - or the prison staff themselves - who don't believe those locked up for cannabis are deserving of their punishment.

Otago Polytechnic's voting booth also attracted 16.4 percent of votes for the Legalise Cannabis Party.

Ban1080 popular in Coromandel and West Coast

Perhaps it's unsurprising, but rural bush-heavy regions returned the best party vote for single-issue party Ban1080. 

The single issue is in the name - it wants an end to the poison often airdropped to kill mammalian pests.

Coroglen School in Hauraki-Waikato was a hotbed of Ban1080 support, with 14 percent of voters, followed by a booth in Arrowtown.

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