Christopher Luxon hits out at length of time it takes to count special votes, Electoral Commission reviewing options

The Electoral Commission says it's looking across the Tasman to see how it could potentially speed up the counting of special votes. 

It comes after incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon criticised the time it took for each vote to be counted and verified - saying three weeks is just way too long.  

"I think the reality is it took us three weeks in this country to count our votes, one-fifth of our votes were uncounted until Friday afternoon," Luxon said. 

"I think that's a different issue that we should be asking some questions as to why does it take so long to get special votes counted in this country. We should be doing everything we can 24/7 to process those votes as fast as possible. We'll pick that up in government and on the other side." 

Chief Electoral Commissioner Karl Le Quesne told AM on Monday they've been researching several options. 

"We'll be having a really good look at the process, we understand the frustration with how long it takes, so we'll be looking in our report back to Parliament around what might be able to be done to quicken that up," Le Quesne said.   

He told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green even though Australia updated on the processing and other information earlier, the Electoral Act does not allow the same here.  

"We've had a look at what they do in Australia and that's quite interesting because they are often updating on the processing as well," he said. 

"They have a similar process where the votes are counted towards the end of their period and they start releasing them progressively, but we don't think the Electoral Act enables us to do that at the moment." 

Le Quesne told AM staff have been working "long hours", seven days a week to get the votes counted.  

"In terms of the enrolment updates, we had about 160 people working on that right across the country, in three different centres," he said. 

"They were working incredibly long hours from well before the election where people were doing updates, then through the voting period and then right through from Election Day, through till we processed all those enrolment updates and new enrolment. So they were working seven days a week for quite a few weeks."  

He said every election provides its own challenges, with October's election highlighted by weather issues and special votes. 

"On Election Day itself, we were dealing with impacts of storm damage in the South Island. There were voting places where we had the power knocked out, telephone lines down and so on. So we had quite a lot to respond to," he said.  

"But I think the big thing that's featured in this election was the number of special votes, over 600,000, and of those, about 455,000 during that voting period were new enrolments or enrolment updates, so that was quite a big feature of this year's election." 

Watch the full interview with Karl Le Quesne in the video above.