Flag referendum voting underway

Flag referendum voting underway

Voting papers for the flag referendum are arriving in letter boxes around the country, and you have just two-and-a-half weeks to respond.

Postal workers were making a start this morning on the more than three million voting papers to be delivered for the referendum.

This first referendum is a preferential vote and asks voters to rank the five alternative flag options, using the numbers 1 to 5, in order of preference.

To be counted you must mark at least one preference.

The Flag Consideration Panel says it's important to vote.

“If you don't, you lose the chance to influence what the alternative flag's going to be and in March you see, that alternative flag might win,” says chair of the Flag Consideration Panel, Professor John Burrows.

Prime Minister John Key says the turnout tends to be lower in postal votes than at voting booths.

He expects more people to take part in the second referendum in March, when voters will be asked to choose between the most preferred option and the current flag.

He’s revealed how he’ll be voting now.

“I'm going for the Kyle Lockwood black and blue one first, then the red and blue one second, then I'm going to go for red peak third, then I'm going to go for the black and white silver fern, then I'm going for the koru,” says Key.

Key thinks the appetite for change is growing.

“[There’s] a reduction of people saying they want to keep the old flag,” he says.

The order of the flags on the paper was decided by random draw, as is required by law.

Labour's Annette King doesn't like any of them but will still vote.

“An official objection, if you don't like any of them, in fact rank them all at number one or all at number zero, spoil the vote, you've still voted,” she says.

The postal voting period runs until December 11.

But with mail deliveries now only every second day, the Electoral Commission is urging voters to put their vote in the mail by Tuesday December 8, to ensure it's received in time. 

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