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Kiwi Troops In Afghanistan Cast Their Votes

6 September 2005

Kiwi Troops In Afghanistan Cast Their Votes

Private Simon Ralph (Paraparaumu) casts his vote (right), supervised by the electoral officer at Kiwi Base, Chief Petty Officer Andrew Erridge (Tapanui

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New Zealand troops currently serving in Afghanistan have cast their votes for the upcoming General Election.

There are 122 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel in Afghanistan as part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

Voting posed a number of logistical problems - from the physical isolation of Bamyan Province where the Kiwis are based to the infrequency of mail deliveries to and from Afghanistan.

Special arrangements had to be made with the Electoral Commission to ensure everyone had the opportunity to vote and that the votes would arrive back in New Zealand in time for the election.

Chief Petty Officer Andrew Erridge, the electoral representative, was responsible for scheduling the voting so those returning from a distant patrol could cast their votes before having to leave Kiwi Base again.

For voting information, NZDF Personnel have access to the Internet and receive regular news bulletins from New Zealand to keep them informed of the political process and election campaign. Afghanistan’s first free elections for a national government will take place exactly a day after the New Zealand election. NZDF Personnel have been playing a significant role in preparing Bamyan Province for the historic occasion.

Over 400 Defence personnel serving overseas who will be casting their vote in numerous locations around the globe including, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Korea, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan.

Personnel on board the Navy Frigate HMNZS Te Kaha, currently exercising in Singapore will also cast special ballots.

ENDS

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