First early election votes cast

Public Service Association co-conveners Lucy Gray (left) and Gail Arthur voting yesterday at the University of Otago polling booth. Photo by Gregor Richardson. The polling booth at the University of Otago was buzzing yesterday on the first day of voting for the 2014 general election.

MPs, electorate candidates, party helpers, and even a suffragette were present when the Otago Daily Times visited at lunchtime.

The Green Party has encouraged people to vote early, rather than wait until election day on September 20. Among those who voted at the university booth was Green co-leader Metiria Turei.

''The Green Party is encouraging electors not to wait until election day and instead cast an early vote ... to make sure their voice is heard,'' Ms Turei said in a press release.

Labour Dunedin South MP Clare Curran and National's Dunedin South candidate Hamish Walker were near the booth around lunchtime to encourage people to vote.

Ms Curran also voted yesterday, in a booth in her electorate.

Public Service Association Otago Southland women's network co-convener Lucy Gray, of Dunedin, said she dressed as a suffragette yesterday to highlight the effort made by women to secure the vote in 1893.

Chief electoral officer Robert Peden said almost 300 advance voting places were available for people to cast an early vote.

Times and opening hours varied around the country.

''Many advance voting places will have late nights or extended hours in the lead-up to election day.

''If you're unable to get to a voting place on election day, because you're on holiday, working, in hospital or for [any] reason whatsoever, voting in advance is the easiest way to have your say.''

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz