NZ Election 2020: Billy Te Kahika Jr admits '200,000 disqualified vote' figure was nonsense, doubles down on debunked 'smiley face' theory

Billy Te Kahika Jr has admitted he got his figures wrong after the Electoral Commission rubbished the Advance NZ co-leader's bizarre explanations for the party's dismal showing on election night.

Advance NZ had a horror night on Saturday, registering just 20,841 votes and failing to get a single candidate into Parliament. The result ensures the party he leads alongside Jami-Lee Ross will have no influence in New Zealand's halls of power over the next three years.

On Sunday, Te Kahika Jr posted an outlandish 14-minute video to his public Facebook page in an attempt to rationalise the result, in which he claimed the election was rigged and Advance NZ had been "diddled".

He said he was "very worried" that 200,000 votes had supposedly been disqualified or had failed to be counted - a claim the Electoral Commission was mystified by, describing it simply as "incorrect".

In a follow-up selfie video on Tuesday morning, Te Kahika Jr admitted that figure was nonsense.

"I made a mistake on the 200,000 votes that weren't counted," he told his Facebook followers. "The other [votes] included almost all of the minor parties."

There is no publicly available data backing up his new claim. It's unclear how Te Kahika Jr would know this even if it were true, as information on disqualified votes has not been released by the Electoral Commission.

Newshub has contacted the Commission for further information.

In Tuesday's video, Te Kahika Jr also doubled down on a claim that the Commission had already debunked - that Advance NZ supporters' had written comments and drawn smiley faces on their voting forms, causing them to be disqualified.

On Monday, the spokesperson told Newshub there was no truth to this, and that votes would always be counted so long as "the voter's intentions are clear".

But that hasn't deterred Te Kahika Jr from blaming his disastrous election results on his supporters' doodling, telling his Facebook followers he'd asked someone to investigate it.

"We do know that a number of people who got in touch with us said they were putting smiley faces on our [voting] forms and hate [and] angry faces on Labour," he said. "That'll disqualify you, so we're trying to get a response on that."

On Monday, the Electoral Commission issued a blunt response to his suggestions the election was rigged.

"New Zealand has a robust and transparent electoral system with many checks and balances. The process for counting votes is thorough and careful," the spokesperson said.

"It is subject to independent scrutiny from candidate and party scrutineers, Justices of the Peace, and the judiciary if there are recounts or electoral petitions."

Te Kahika Jr, a blues musician, very quickly gathered a thousands-strong online following earlier this year thanks to a blend of anti-establishment rhetoric and peddling of conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19.

The policies of his New Zealand Public Party, which joined forces with Ross's Advance NZ a few months before the election, include a promise to restore government integrity, investigate any UN agendas, and look into the use of 1080 and 5G technology.

But come election night, Advance NZ failed to make much of an impression - and neither did he, finishing fourth in the Māori electorate of Te Tai Tokerau, which was comprehensively won by Labour MP Kelvin Davis.

For now, Te Kahika Jr is refusing to accept the election result and pushing to get a second tally of Advance NZ voters as evidence of a corrupt electoral process.

"We're going to get an app… and we're going to get everybody to sign on that they voted for us," he said on Sunday. "That'll give us a real-time understanding of who voted for us because I cannot believe just 21,000 voted for us, that's for sure.

"To all those silly people who think this is a silly discussion, you wait to see what's coming down the pipeline aimed at you, buddies. To all those people saying we're nutters and conspiracy theorists, you just wait - you just blinking wait.

"I wish I was wrong - I wish I was just an out-of-control insane nutter - but I've never been more sound and logical in my life than what I am today."