65% of New Zealanders voted yes in the euthanasia referendum. 53% voted no in the cannabis referendum.

The preliminary results for the euthanasia and cannabis referendums are in.

It’s a yes for the End of Life Choice Act, and a no for Cannabis Legalisation and Control.

These results include the ordinary and advance votes, but do not include special votes. The Electoral Commission estimates there are 480,000 special votes, around 17% of the total votes.

The full referendum results including the special votes will be released next Friday November 6th, as well as the full final results for the 2020 general election.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia Referendum Bar Graph

For the question Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

  • 65.2% voted yes (a total of 1,574,645 people)
  • 33.8% voted no (a total of 815,829 people)
  • 1% were “informal votes”, (a total of 25,073 people) meaning either there was no mark on the voting paper or it was unclear.

Euthanasia results

Image: Electoral Commission

If the special votes follow this pattern, then in 12 months’ time the End of Life Choice Act 2019 will come into law, making euthanasia legal in New Zealand.

The euthanasia question was a binding referendum, meaning the government has to enact the outcome - if over 50 percent of voters voted yes then the act becomes law, if over 50 percent of voters voted no then it would not become law.

The Act was passed by Parliament last year, but only comes into force if more than 50 percent of voters in the referendum voted yes.

It allows people who are terminally ill and likely to die within six months to request assisted dying. 

Assisted dying means a patient can either:

  • Request for a doctor or nurse practitioner to hand them medication that they then take to end their own life. 
  • Request for a doctor or nurse practitioner to end their life (eg the doctor administers the drugs that end the patient’s life).

To be eligible a person must meet all of these criteria:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Have a terminal illness that’s likely to kill them in the next six months
  • Be experiencing unbearable suffering and a significant decline in physical capability
  • Be able to make an informed decision
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident

You can read more about the details of the Act here.

 

Cannabis

Cannabis Referendum Bar Graph

For the question Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?

  • 46.1% voted yes (a total of 1,114,485 people)
  • 53.1% voted no (a total of 1,281,818 people)
  • 0.8% were “informal votes”, (a total of 19,244 people) meaning either there was no mark on the voting paper or it was unclear.


Cannabis referendum

Image: Electoral Commission

If the special votes follow this pattern then it looks like recreational cannabis will not be legalised in New Zealand.

Unlike the end of life choice referendum, the cannabis referendum was not binding. This means the government is not required to act on the decision. 

The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill proposed that people over the age of 20 would be able to:

  • Buy up to 14 grams of cannabis from licensed shops
  • Grow two plants, with a maximum number of four plants per household
  • Share up to 14 grams of cannabis with someone who is also over the age of 20
  • Consume cannabis at home or on a licensed premise, but not in public

You can read more about the details of the proposed cannabis legalisation bill here

What are special votes and why have they not been counted yet?

Special votes are those made by people who can’t attend a voting place - usually because they live overseas. 

People who aren’t printed on the electoral roll when they go to vote also make special votes. This can happen if someone wasn’t enrolled ahead of time. 

This election there were around 480,000 special votes, 17% of the total.

In total around 2.9 million people voted in the referendums.