North Taranaki Midweek
Elections: Five tips for getting involved
OPINION: During the past year, I’ve been spending my time in three different communities in Wellington, Auckland, and Whangārei. They’re all different and wonderful in their own ways, and each has distinct networks of people and events.
It has made me think about our democracy in New Zealand and how it supports local communities to have a say about their futures.
Here are my five top tips for getting involved and creating stronger communities through participation.
HELP YOUR WHĀNAU GET ENROLLED
You can enrol to vote online at vote.nz. Enrolling to vote is a rite of passage, like getting your own bank account, or your driver licence. When you turn 18 and enrol, you can sign petitions and vote in general elections, byelections, local elections, and referendums. Enrolling gives you a voice.
VOTE AT ELECTION TIME
We have a representative democracy in New Zealand, which means that each voter has a say in who represents them in Parliament and in local government. You can vote for who you want to represent you on the issues that matter to you and your community.
Stay tuned to Neighbourly so you know what’s important to the people who live around you and will make a difference in your area.
TAKE PART IN THE LOCAL ELECTIONS
There’s a clue in the word ‘‘local’’. At the local elections, we will elect councillors, mayors
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and community board members to run services in the area we live in. The decisions our councils make have a direct impact on our communities and our day-to-day lives.
Sometimes we take our right to enrol and vote for granted. Elections roll around, and it can be tempting to leave those voting decisions to others. But if we do, we miss the opportunity to shape our councils and the Government and the decisions they make.
Don’t miss the chance to vote in the local elections this year. Voting closes on Saturday, October 8, at midday. Local elections are run by local councils and they have sent voting papers to everyone on the electoral roll. If you haven’t received yours, contact your local council.
GET INVOLVED IN A PARTY
Anyone who is a New Zealand citizen and is enrolled to vote is also eligible to be a candidate in local and general elections.
Standing as a candidate isn’t for everyone. You could also get involved by becoming a member of a party or volunteering your time to help out with a campaign.
WORK AT THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION
At a general election, voting places are run by people in your neighbourhood. Thousands of New Zealanders work on general elections, making them our largest community events. You can work alongside your neighbours and support your community to have their say.
Look out for jobs at the election next year online at elections.nz.
In the communities I’ve called home, and right across the country, I hope my neighbours take the opportunity to get involved in New Zealand’s democracy. Our communities are better and stronger for it.
❚ Karl Le Quesne is Chief Electoral Officer at the Electoral Commission. He has been in the role since April.