Guy Williams: Why our local elections are a shambles, and how to fix them
I filled out my voting papers today and holy crap, it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
That probably says more about me sad life, but I think the important message is don't vote guys, it's not worth it.
I wish I were in the minority of confused voters, turns out I'm the creme of the crap. Most people in New Zealand don't even bother to vote!
In 2013, the Auckland voter turnout was 35%… 35%! That's worse than a Blues game.
So why don't people vote? The primary reasons given range from "not knowing enough about the candidates" to "too busy"! The shameless audacity of anyone who claimed to be "too busy" for a three-week postal vote is exceptional, and I applaud the 14% of people who tried to claim this.
* Guy Willliams: The Chiefs learned nothing
* Do women like nudie pics?
* The quiet racism of NZ
* 'When did we become so selfish?'
* 'Stop trolling the social media trolls'
* 'Why I hate Auckland'
* 'Why I love Waitangi Day'
Other reasons including "I forgot" and "not interested" (you've gotta appreciate the brash honesty) sound like the text replies to a desperate ex-boyfriend who is sadly still messaging girlfriend from uni trying to win her back. Sarah, if your reading this… I love you.
After voting for the first time in 2016 I can see why people said they were "too busy". The local health board wanted me to choose seven people… from 28... for a position I don't understand. I basically chose the ones who looked the healthiest in their profile pictures, which was hard because most of the candidates are 80 years old. This probably explains why they have so much knowledge about the health system.
Now whenever times get tough, the tough get going, and the rest of us cowards look for someone to blame and I blame young people! Young people aren't voting which is kind of understandable (young people normally aren't the household ratepayer) but insane. Almost all the major issues in 2016 (housing, transport and the environment) most dramatically affect young people.
Time for my bombshell conspiracy theory: The local council doesn't want people to vote, and intentionally makes itself inaccessible and confusing to keep voter turnout low.
My other bombshell conspiracy theory is that Stevie Wonder isn't blind, he's just pretending as a marketing ploy to sell albums. Let's focus on the first one (but google the Stevie Wonder one, it's crack up bro).
Take Auckland as an example, my local Mayor is Len Brown. He had sex in the Ngāti Whātua room so his campaign team just replaced him with Phil Goff who hasn't had sex in the Ngāti Whātua room (at the time of writing).
Like Len Brown who won easily after the record low 35% turn out, Phil Goff pretty much has the Mayoralty in the bag and as a result is running the safest and boring-est campaign ever. He even went so far as to make his hoarding colour blue instead of his lifelong Labour red. I guess he didn't want to risk being associated with a losing team.
Blurring political party lines and running as an "independent" is one way local politicians dull excitement and enthusiasm around elections. Using technical jargon and avoiding sticking their neck out on major hot button topics (such as housing) is another common feature of this election. It's hard to know or care about what anyone stands for besides "families" and a "vibrant city".
So how do we fix it? Every election we pretend we're reaching out to young people in the same way, by launching an app! Obviously! Young people like apps for games and connecting with friends, why wouldn't they like apps with photos of district health board candidates and their opinions. This year we launched an app so good it reached over 500 people! You may as well tape a snap chat filter to a skateboard meme, you're wasting money on apps… like young people… normally waste money on apps.
To be fair I don't even think it's the council's job to reach out to young people, young people need to wake the heck up and vote before Tim Shadbolt tries to do a dab. That would be more effective than an app; the threat of a Tim Shadbolt dab.
The first step to saving local body politics is simplifying the voting process. Sorting out the ridiculous FFP/STV voting system we have now is important, and I think we should encourage candidates to develop a cohesive message through political parties or collectives. Most importantly we need online voting and quick because the last elections were saved by an 89% turnout from people over 70 and they're probably going to die soon.
- Sunday Star Times