Mayor lob­bies for elec­tion e-vote

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett is urg­ing the Gov­ern­ment to al­low Porirua to use elec­tronic vot­ing for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment elec­tions next year.

Fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tion with its community, the Porirua City Coun­cil has asked the Gov­ern­ment if it can be a trial coun­cil for elec­tronic vot­ing at the Oc­to­ber 2013 elec­tions. This would be in ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar postal vot­ing.

Mr Leggett says most peo­ple to­day have a much stronger re­la­tion­ship with the in­ter­net than with the post box and, if steps aren’t taken now to ex­pand the ways and means for peo­ple to en­gage with democ­racy on their terms, they will be ef­fec­tively dis­en­fran­chised.

‘‘I can’t stand by and see a grow­ing num­ber of New Zealan­ders – those un­der 50 – shut out be­cause they don’t re­late to the method of vot­ing.’’

Mr Leggett says a sim­ple change to reg­u­la­tions is all that is re­quired to fa­cil­i­tate an e-vot­ing trial and he has writ­ten to the Gov­ern­ment re­quest­ing a meet­ing to dis­cuss the coun­cil’s pro­posal in more de­tail. ‘‘Cur­rently the Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs has in­di­cated it might be look­ing at a trial for the 2016 Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions. This is too late. We can act now. Porirua is ready.’’

He says the coun­cil’s elec­toral of­fi­cer has the cor­rect tech­nol­ogy and pro­cesses to ef­fec­tively run elec­tronic vot­ing as an ad­di­tion to postal vot­ing.

E-vot­ing started in New Zealand in 2000 and more than 700 on­line elec­tions have been held since then. On­line vot­ing re­turns have in­creased over time with an av­er­age of 35 per cent for pri­vate elec­tions and 10 per cent for pub­lic elec­tions.

At 32, Mr Leggett is the youngest mayor in New Zealand and Porirua City has the youngest pop­u­la­tion in New Zealand.

Voter turnout at the last lo­cal body elec­tion in 2010 was a poor 38 per cent.

‘‘We want to in­crease that and we be­lieve that of­fer­ing this op­tion to a pop­u­la­tion that’s well con­nected on­line will in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion.’’

Sta­tis­tics New Zealand data shows that more than 80 per cent of house­holds in the Welling­ton re­gion have ac­cess to the in­ter­net and that 95 per cent of 15-24 years and 90 per cent of peo­ple aged 25-44 years own mo­bile phones.

‘‘On­line and mo­bile bank­ing has taken off, with New Zealand be­ing early and heavy adopters of this tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘I’d like to see sim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tions de­vel­oped for cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment democ­racy that would fa­cil­i­tate easy en­rol­ment, in­for­ma­tion and vot­ing.’’

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