New Zealand PM votes a week before polls close in election

WELLINGTON (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern voted in the nation’s general election, a week before polls officially close.

Ardern cast her vote in her Auckland district yesterday after visiting a market in the heavily Polynesian south Auckland suburb of Otara, where she was thronged by supporters.

Ardern’s Labour Party has governed since the 2017 general election, when it forged a narrow majority in New Zealand’s 120-seat Parliament in a coalition with the left-wing Greens and right-wing New Zealand First parties.

Recent polls show a more comfortable result this year, with the Labour Party leading the National Party, led by Judith Collins, by as many as 13 points.

Over 700,000 people voted by yesterday, a week before the official election day of October 17, according to the New Zealand Electoral Commission. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to vote during the coming week.

Ardern’s visit to Otara was an effort to get out the vote in an electorate in which Labour out-polls National by around four votes to one.

“We’re seeing really high turnout at the moment for advance voting,” Ardern said. “We want to make sure everyone uses their voice until election day.”