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Flag rejection numbers confirmed

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/03/2016

The Electoral Commission has confirmed the official result of the flag referendum, with the final figures little changed from the preliminary result.

It says 56.6 per cent, or 1.2 million people, voted to keep the current flag while 43.2 per cent, or 921,876 voted for the challenger - architectural designer Kyle Lockwood's Silver Fern.

The total votes received were 2,140,895, or 67.78 per cent of the 3.16 million enrolled voters.

There were 5044 informal votes (0.24 per cent), which the commission said was where the voter had not clearly indicated their preferred option.

"This can be because the voter leaves the paper blank, the voter takes deliberate action to spoil the paper, or an error by the voter means that their intention is not clear."

A further 5273 votes were invalid 0.25 per cent, which were not counted because the voter might have made the QR code unreadable, voting papers that have been cancelled as a result of replacement voting papers being issued, or voting papers returned late.

The result - announced last week - was much closer than polls had predicted.

However, the referendum process, which cost $26 million, was widely criticised.

Prime Minister John Key kicked off the discussion about New Zealand's flag back in March 2014 when he announced National's intention to hold a referendum if it was re-elected.

Last year, more than 10,000 public flag design submissions were whittled down to a long-list of 40 by the 12-member flag consideration panel, which was then reduced to one challenger.

New Zealand is the only country in the world that's ever asked its citizens directly whether they want to change their flag.

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