National wanted as much of the vote as possible, and knew that from the polls that it had nowhere to go but down, so it corrupted the game and allowed people to vote in advance of polling day for any reason that suited their convenience. A quarter of a million played the game outside the field before the fixture-date. They voted before the campaign was over, before all the policy announcements had been made, and thus before everyone had all the information needed to make an informed decision. That is grossly unfair. And stupid.
Voting in advance should be allowed only for an extremely good reason, as used to be the case, not just to fit people's lifestyles, their notions of convenience, or whatever pops into their heads. Anything to the contrary is not a free and fair election. It is corruption.
If you cannot find a bit of time to vote during the ten hours of polling day you miss out. Period.
The advance voting in this election was not the same as the result on the night. National dropped about 2%, from 49.81% to 47.99% and Labour came up a bit from 26.30% to 27.13, so there was a 2.65% movement between the two main parties between the advance vote and the election-day vote. That is no trifle. In a 120-seat Parliament it is 3 seats. National might have only 57 seats, not 60, and even with ACT and United Future would have only 59--not a majority.
National's advance-voting trick worked. It got a significant advantage from it.
The point is underlined by the numbers of seats in the advance and voting-night votes:
The seat-count in the advance votes was: 62(N), 32(L), 12(G), 9(NZF), 3(Ma), 1(UF), 1(Ma), 1(A)
In the voting-day votes the seat-count was: 60(N), 34(L), 13(G), 8(NZF), 3(M), 1(UF), 1(Ma), 1(A)
The final count, released on the 10th of December, shows even more graphically how well the trick worked:
59(N), 34(L), 14(G), 8(NZF), 3(M), 1(UF), 1(Ma), 1(A)
Obviously, if the playing-field had been level, and everyone had been voting at the same time, the result would have been different. National dropped from 49.81% to 47.31%. Labour went up from 26.30% to 27.48%. So there was in the end a 3.68% change in the difference between the two main parties from the advance votes to election-day votes (the difference between them went down from 23.51% to 19.83%).
Cheating paid off. A lot more subtle than stuffing the ballot-boxes like they did in Russia, and made to look very legal. But cheating. Corruption. Manipulation for your own advantage.