Er­ror sees elec­tors left out

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Elec­tion cam­paign­ing is over for Ella Law­ton and Gary Kel­li­her, but the vot­ing process has come un­der fire af­ter a glitch missed some peo­ple on the elec­toral roll.

Wanaka res­i­dent Philip Thoreau alerted the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil and Dunedin City Coun­cil elec­toral of­fi­cer Pam Jor­dan of the er­ror on Thurs­day af­ter not re­ceiv­ing vot­ing pa­pers.

Thoreau, who also owns a house in Auck­land, said he phoned the coun­cil and was told vot­ing pa­pers had not been sent to oth­ers as well. He re­ceived a ‘‘half bait’’ let­ter and vot­ing pa­per on Fri­day and was told to get his vote in be­fore the Tues­day noon dead­line.

‘‘I rang and you have only al­lowed one and a half work­ing days to get votes in. What ir­ri­tated me was the laid back at­ti­tude to­wards it...I felt so an­gry I got hold of the can­di­dates and they had not been told about it. These peo­ple are good enough to put them­selves up to serve the com­mu­nity, at least the peo­ple or­gan­is­ing the elec­tion can en­sure they do their best to get vot­ing pa­pers out.’’

Can­di­date Gary Kel­li­her said he was dis­ap­pointed to learn of the over­sight through the me­dia and Thoreau.

‘‘It is a con­cern. You have faith in the sys­tem that the sys­tem doesn’t get it wrong. If the is­sue wasn’t raised by a con­cerned voter what would they have done? I sus­pect prob­a­bly noth­ing. Ella and I have in­vested a lot of time, ef­fort and money on this and you would like to see they would show a level of con­cern that matches the ef­fort Ella and I put into the whole cam­paign.’’

Law­ton was up­set to learn of the er­ror and it high­lighted fail­ures in the en­tire sys­tem.

‘‘I have given it ev­ery­thing. I am to­tally con­cerned. I got re­ally up­set be­cause some peo­ple are so pas­sion­ate about vot­ing and it is New Zealan­ders’ right to have the op­por­tu­nity to vote. It is just not ac­cept­able...I was an ad­vo­cate for on­line vot­ing.’’

Elec­toral of­fi­cer Pam Jor­dan said a to­tal of 42 ratepayer vot­ers on the Queenstown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil roll had been in­cor­rectly omit­ted.

‘‘They were sent vot­ing pa­pers and FastPost re­turn en­velopes as soon as the omis­sion was dis­cov­ered.’’

Elec­tionz.com was putting in place mea­sures to en­sure the er­ror did not hap­pen again, she said.

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Melva Crow­ley, of Cromwell, got her Otago Re­gional Coun­cil by-elec­tion vot­ing pa­per in the post in good time to meet Tues­day’s noon dead­line.

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