Election apathy 'shame but not a shock'
The work councils do has been downplayed so much that people find it hard to see why they should vote in council elections, a political commentator says.
Colin James said yesterday the fact that 60 per cent of Marlborough people had yet to vote in council elections was disappointing but not that surprising.
"Only 50 per cent of people voted for the United States president, so why should people vote for a mayor?"
Most people did not see any direct relationship between the council and themselves, even in places such as Marlborough where there were few central government offices and the council was a unitary one, doing both territorial authority and regional council work, Mr James said.
If they did feel some relationship, he said, they were "a bit hazy" about who's on the council and what they stand for.
"It's just not important enough for most people, till something happens that they get excited about."
In the 1930s, councils were responsible for about half of all government spending, Mr James said.
That had shrunk to about 11 per cent and central government seemed to be trying to drive that down further.
"In all but a handful of countries, councils do a great deal more, and are seen as much more important."
He was not surprised that voter turnout so far was so low and appeared that it might dip below 50 per cent.
Election operator Electionz.com figures showed that 13,225 forms, or 40.91 per cent of 32,810 voting forms sent out for the Marlborough District Council election, had been returned and processed by 10pm yesterday.
This is down on the same time in previous elections. In 2010, 46.06 per cent of the total vote had been received, 39 per cent in 2007 and 50.81 per cent in 2004.
All resident and non-resident ratepayer electors whose names appear on the electoral roll should have received voting papers. Voters have until noon on Saturday to return their voting paper.
It is too late to post forms from today. They should be dropped into the ballot box at the Marlborough District Council's office in Blenheim or the after-hours mail slot to the left of the council entrance doors in Seymour St.
Special votes may be lodged:
If you did not receive the voting paper that was posted to you.
If your name did not appear on the final electoral roll, even though you qualify as a voter.
If you spoiled or damaged the voting document that was posted to you.
If you have made arrangements for your name to be on the unpublished electoral roll.
Special voting will be available during office hours until tomorrow and from 9am to noon on Saturday at the council office in Seymour St, Blenheim.
- The Marlborough Express