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Soon Lee

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04:42 pm: Advance Voting in the New Zealand General Elections
So I went and cast my vote yesterday which is the first day of Advance Voting. And in the process gained even more empathy for those with mobility difficulties.

I found a conveniently nearby location for me from the map of Advance Voting locations:
Auckland University,
AUSA Club Space,
The Quad,
Alfred Street

So far, so simple. And then the adventures began.

The actual room you want to get to is one level up from the Quad and is not the only one that can be called a "Club Space". The one you want is upstairs from the foodcourt section, not upstairs next to the Maidment.

I thought I was being clever as I had identified the location of the lift I would need (in the passage between the Kate Edger building & the Student Commons Building). I can manage stairs on crutches (broken knee; long story) but it's much slower with increased risk of falling. But when I got there, I discovered that the lift was not working. So as a work-around, I thought to use the lifts in the adjoining Kate Edger building instead. I made a guess on which level I needed to get to, made my way across the bridge separating the two buildings (which included a few stairs along the way). At the end of that corridor is a room marked "AUSA Clubspace", but the door was locked and there was no sign of life inside. So I reasoned that it must be the *other* Clubspace room. I figured I can get to it by going through the Common Room. But when I tried to open the door, found the Common Room to be locked.

So I had to make my way on crutches back across the bridge to Kate Edger, take the lifts back down to ground level, make my way on crutches to the other side of the Quad. To get to the Voting Station, you have to walk up a flight of stairs as there is no lift on that part of the building complex. Or at least what I hoped was the Voting Station location (there was no visible signage). By this time I was determined & willing to take a punt, so I made my slow way up the stairs on crutches. It wasn't until I reached the top of the stairs that voting signage was visible.

Once I got there, voting was straightforward. There were a couple of people staffing & a National Party observer. I didn't have an EasyVote card so was asked to provide the name of my electorate, and my full name. Once they confirmed my address, I was given my voting papers & directed to a voting booth. Having made my two ticks, I deposited my vote into one of the boxes provided, and I was done.

Except that I wasn't. I stayed to make a few suggestions on (what I thought were) necessary improvements. They were already aware of the lift problem, but also agreed that having the Common Room locked blocking access between the lift & the voting station was also an issue. Had I been in a wheelchair instead of on crutches, I would not have been able to vote there.

It turned out that there was voting signage at the bottom of the stairs, just not the ones I climbed (they agreed that signage on both sets of stairs would be a good thing).

I personally like the idea of Advance Voting: giving people more opportunities to vote is excellent. Having a voting station at the university makes it easier for younger voters, a demographic that has had low turnout. I appreciate that it was the first day of Advance Voting and there would be a few wrinkles to iron out. But I didn't expect there to be so many wrinkles. I was especially disappointed by the poor/lack of mobility access.

I am glad I have voted & can carry on with my life. It seemed somehow appropriate to exercise my democratic freedom & right on September 11.

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