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New Zealanders are happy to move their elections, but that's a US voter's worst nightmare

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 Zealanders are happy to move their elections, but that's a US voter's worst nightmare
Image Source: Getty/ (L) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (R) President Trump

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.

 



 

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.

 



 

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.

 



 

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.

 



 

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."

 



 

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