A stunning 20% return rate in Auckland’s local body elections

Barry du Plessis-Allan writes

So far, early voting in our biggest city, Auckland, is woeful at just under 20 per cent and even in the capital, which was the only city to lift voter numbers three years ago, the enthusiasm at this stage is about the same as Auckland.

Even Prime Minister John Key admitted the other day he hadn’t voted, even though he’d filled out the forms, because he was still looking for a postbox.

That, if nothing else, is a good reason we should have at least trialled online voting this time round, but the Beehive flagged it because they had concerns for the security of the ballot and said it was too early for a trial.

Now this, as much as anything else, is a shout out to the young who have an abysmally poor voting record when it comes to putting their ticks alongside the names for City and Regional Councils, for local wards and health boards.

Do you know how many people are standing for mayor, council and boards in Auckland? ?Once you realise there are over 200 positions to fill, and most of them are contested, how on earth does any voter care enough to understand the people involved? ??

It seems the young can’t be bothered, they’re not interested, are too busy or simply forget the elections are on.

It’s time they realised that ratepayers aren’t the only ones affected by civic decisions that involve environmental issues like air quality and preserving our waterways and providing liveable and green spaces in urban areas.

They’re responsible for providing safety in our cities and public places along with recreational opportunities for the young.

And those with a social conscience should be aware of council housing and housing for the homeless which is part of a local authority’s brief, along with attracting businesses and increasing job opportunities.

If 77 per cent of us can get out to vote in the general election, surely we can do better than the miserable 41 percent who voted in the last local body turnout!

Theoretically, yes. ?Practically, the whole process is just too awkward. ?Electronic voting won’t change that. ?Pull 100 people off the street and ask them to name 3 sitting councillors. ?That’s where your problem lies. ?In the large cities the scale of it has broken the model where you are likely to know about the people standing for certain positions.

And with national politics, the players are defined in well understood teams, with a few figureheads to pull the focus on the message.


– Barry Soper, NZ Herald