While 60 percent of New Zealand's citizens were happy to postpone their central elections, the same cannot be said for citizens of the United States.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country would postpone its central elections owing to a second wave of the pandemic. The elections, originally scheduled to be held on September 19, will be held on October 17 instead. While this decision has been criticized by Ardern's opposition party, it has been widely appreciated by the country's citizens. On the other hand, voters in the United States were sent into a tizzy when President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that Presidential elections should be postponed. For many American citizens, it was a reminder that Trump may not go quietly if he were to lose the upcoming elections.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern delays election to Oct 17 over Covid-19 pandemic concerns https://t.co/a6nBMXv6Cb— The Straits Times (@STcom) August 16, 2020
Prime Minister Ardern was praised for her swift action when the public health crisis first hit New Zealand, which makes the second wave of the outbreak quite disheartening for the country's administration as well as its citizens. Despite a strict lockdown, a new cluster of cases has spread through the city of Auckland. As a result, Ardern called for a delay in the upcoming elections after reportedly consulting with all major parties. She called the decision a compromise that "provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we could be campaigning under, for the electoral commission to prepare and for voters to feel assured of a safe, accessible and critical election." She added that they would be "sticking with the date [they] have" even if the outbreak worsens.
'Anyone who's following COVID and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States' tens of thousands,' New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said https://t.co/hXRTYTgp6r pic.twitter.com/BTigjpUcfA— Reuters (@Reuters) August 18, 2020
Thankfully, most New Zealanders have taken to the decision well. According to a poll conducted by New Zealand Herald-Kantar over the weekend, 60 percent of citizens favored a delay in the elections. The postponement is likely to have favorable impacts on Ardern's positioning as well. Richard Shaw, a politics professor at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, stated in an interview with The New York Times, "She might have just added 5 percent to her polling by making an announcement that many New Zealanders will think is reasonable, fair, and sensible." Though, he argued that if it turns out there was considerable oversight in how the initial lockdown was handled, there could be a "significant impact" on the country's success story narrative.
“I don't think there's any comparison between New Zealand's current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States.”— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) August 18, 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern slams President Trump’s claim that New Zealand is experiencing a big #Covid19 surge pic.twitter.com/Q8F4Jq7C64
Nonetheless, Ardern had to respond to the second outbreak quickly and with tact. As the sole authority who has the power to determine when people cast ballots, her decision was widely respected. This is in stark contrast to the reactions voters in the United States had to a similar suggestion made by President Trump. Just over two weeks ago, he tweeted, "With universal mail-in voting... 2020 will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the US. Delay the election until people can properly, securely, and safely vote?" The soft nod at postponing elections concerned citizens deeply.
Twitter: Be more like New Zealand!— Rabbi Josh Yuter (@JYuter) August 17, 2020
Trump: Let's delay elections
Twitter: Not like that!
(I know this wasn't the sequence, just pointing out the incoherence of opinions) https://t.co/sE2MB33euV
Almost immediately, political leaders—on both sides—dismissed the idea. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the numerous Republicans to criticize the suggestion. He affirmed, "Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election." Widespread reactions to the possibility of delaying the upcoming Presidential elections, however, highlighted a concern that has perhaps been festering implicitly within voters: will Trump quietly leave office if he loses? Some, such as 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, argued that he would not. "I don't want to scare people, but I want you to be prepared," she said. "I have every reason to believe that Trump is not going to go, you know, silently into the night if he loses. He's going to try to confuse us, he's going to try to bring all kinds of lawsuits."
Donald Trump is terrified of free and fair elections because he knows he can't win one fairly. If you're voting by mail this year, return your ballot ASAP or use a dropbox location. We can't let him get away with destroying the foundation of our democracy. https://t.co/8nqmp9C24V— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) August 12, 2020