NZ Votes May Effect U.S. Election Outcome
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Embassy, Wellington
Votes Cast In New Zealand May Affect U.S. Presidential Election Outcome
Wellington, November 9, 2000 – Votes cast by American citizens living in New Zealand could be crucial in deciding the next President of the United States, said Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun today.
With only a few hundred votes separating Vice President Al Gore and Texan Governor George W. Bush in the key state of Florida and a recount scheduled, overseas votes cast by American citizens will be among those that could decide the outcome of the Presidential election.
“This election emphasizes one of my favorite themes: the Power of One,” said Ambassador Moseley Braun.
“Individuals can and do make a difference. The closeness of this election shows how important it is that each of us express our views. We will just have to wait and see to know how the views of the voters of Florida determine the next President.”
About 350 absentee ballots were sent through the U.S. Embassy in Wellington and the Consulate in Auckland by American citizens in New Zealand, including a “handful” that went to Florida. Countless others were sent individually by American citizens who posted their ballots directly to their home state.
Most of the absentee ballots mailed through the Embassy and Consulate have already arrived in the United States as a result of a free express mail service run by DHL International. Under Florida law, overseas ballots will be counted if they are postmarked by election day and received up to 10 days after the election.
“New Zealanders are familiar with the importance of absentee and overseas votes from the results in their 1999 parliamentary election,” Ambassador Moseley Braun said, referring to the race in which the New Zealand Green Party entered Parliament based on special votes.
“This is just another example of how the shared democratic tradition works in New Zealand and the United States.”
The complexities of the electoral college affected U.S. voters both at home and overseas.
“American citizens in New Zealand are always eligible to vote in federal elections, including those for President. But their votes must be channeled through their state of legal or last voting residence. This allows the votes to count in the electoral college.”
Each of the 50 U.S. states makes its own laws concerning election formalities, such as registration and absentee voting. Many states require that overseas voters register and request their absentee ballots as early as 45 days before the election is held. In Florida for example, overseas voters who are not already registered must send their applications the county clerk in their home residence at least 29 days before the election. A few states allow voters to request absentee ballots by facsimile and to vote by mail, expanding the franchise to overseas voters.
The Ambassador urged American’s residing abroad to maintain voting eligibility by requesting and verifying registration status in the state where they last lived.
Some American citizens in New Zealand were disappointed at not being able to vote because they thought they could vote in person on election day at the U.S. Embassy. No state permits American citizens abroad to vote at U.S. embassies overseas. Other American citizens resident in New Zealand found they were unable to vote this year because they did not make timely application for their absentee ballots.
U.S. Embassy, 29 Fitzherbert Tce, Wellington Tel: 04/472-2068