Voter turnout still low
Come on people, get those voting papers in. With just days to go till voting closes in the local body elections, the numbers are predictably limp, with less than 40 per cent of Porirua residents expected to have their say.
As Kapi-Mana News went to press on Monday, 6454 of 34,873 voters ( 18.51 per cent) were recorded as having returned their papers, compared with 18.24 per cent in 2007 and 22.56 per cent in 2004 at the same stage. Nearly 20 per cent of voters in the northern and western wards posted their ballot, and 16.5 per cent had in the east.
There is always voter apathy towards local body elections. Figures show Maori, Pacific and young people are the least interested. There are many theories behind it – people simply don’t care; that by not voting you accept the status quo; that the single transferable vote (STV) system is too confusing; that three weeks is too long a voting period. If people don’t believe their vote makes a difference, look to 2007 when Liz Kelly was elected by three votes.
‘‘The biggest threat for us as a council is if people do nothing,’’ says mayoral candidate Nick Leggett.
‘‘If too few people vote you can take the city in the wrong direction. Local councils are a multi-million dollar business and can have much more impact on people’s daily lives than central government.’’
Gregory Fortuin, raised in South Africa with no right to vote, says it is important residents make their voices heard.
‘‘If it’s apathy, I think you should have your right to vote taken away. You must appreciate how valuable having your say is.’’
Mr Leggett supports the STV system – where candidates are ranked in preferential order – saying it has led to a more representative council than FPP could achieve, but several of his opponents are calling for a review.
Deputy mayor Litea Ah Hoi, who is also gunning for the top job, hates STV.
‘‘I’ve never supported it and don’t buy the reasons given to have it.
‘‘If it’s so successful then why isn’t the whole country using it? People don’t understand STV and it leads to large numbers of invalid votes because people have to use a combo of this and FPP.’’
Russell Marshall says he wants STV reviewed whether he or not he is elected. While Brian Collins finds STV ‘‘perfectly acceptable’’, he says voters should not feel obliged to rank all the candidates.
‘‘Put a ‘1’ next to the person you want to get in, and don’t do anything else.’’
Six authorities in New Zealand use STV – Dunedin City, Kaipara District, Kapiti Coast District, Marlborough District, Wellington City and Porirua City councils.
It has been in use by PCC since 2004.
All Porirua mayoral candidates agreed there needed to be a deeper look at voter turnout and how the process could be made easier.
PCC’s administration and democratic services manager Mike Chapman confirmed the Local Electoral Act triggers a review of the STV system, and it would likely be within the next 12 months.
Votes must be received by midday this Saturday.
Results for the mayoralty are likely to be known that day (you can check via pcc.govt.nz) but ward results may take longer.