NZ Election 2020: What Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's options are for delaying the election amid COVID-19 pandemic

With Auckland on lockdown and New Zealand at COVID-19 alert level 2, calls for the September 19 election to be delayed have steadily grown louder. 

At 10am on Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce whether she will delay the election - but what are her options?

Constitutional lawyer Mai Chen says they're pretty limited.

"She has options to either stay with September 19 or she can delay and you could argue that given we've been locked down for two weeks, she could stay consistent with that and delay it by two weeks," Chen told The AM Show on Monday.

If she does choose to delay the election, there isn't a lot of wiggle room. The Prime Minister can only push the date back as far as November 21, according to New Zealand's constitution. 

"You can't try and keep yourself in power by extending Parliament beyond the time Parliament expires," said Chen.

Anything later than November would require Parliament to be recalled to lengthen the term, she said.

"[Ardern will] have to reconvene Parliament and get them to agree by a supermajority - 75 percent or more - that we're going to extend the term of Parliament and have an election later than [November]."

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday ahead of the September 19 election, but the Prime Minister confirmed it had been delayed until Monday after cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the community in Auckland. 

If it's not dissolved by Monday she will have to choose a new election date. 

"Because once parliament is dissolved - no longer sitting, no longer keeping the Government to account then you should have an election, otherwise you end up with a situation where parliament isn't sitting and you're not having an election, you're drifting," said Chen. 

"I suspect there will be a delay but the question is for how long."

She suggested a two week delay to offset the period Auckland is expected to be locked down for.

Political commentator David Farrar told The AM Show he thought November 21 would be a better date for an election. 

"I think November would be the safer one to punt for because while there's no guarantees with COVID it's far enough down the track that things should be fairly calm," he said on Monday. 

Ardern is facing increasing pressure from her political counterparts to delay, with leaders of multiple parties saying it would hinder democracy to keep the date as is.

Deputy Prime Minister and leader of NZ First Winston Peters said the pandemic means "there is now no ability to conduct a free and fair election if the Prime Minister decides to hold the General Election on September 19."

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins agreed, saying holding the election during a pandemic would be a hit to democracy.

"People expect to be able to cast their vote and if we can't think of ways to do it properly then we need to delay the election."