Low local body vote 'due to lack of issues'

Last updated 05:00 14/10/2013
Wellington City Council electoral officer Charlie Inggs
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

COUNT DOWN: Wellington City Council electoral officer Charlie Inggs with some of the votes sent in for the local body election.

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Low voter turnout at the local body elections was likely the result of a lack of burning issues, say political pundits.

Local body voter turnout has been falling over time - a trend reflected at the general election.

But turnout at the general election is still more than twice the weekend's voting, with 73 per cent of eligible voters casting a vote at the 2011 general election, compared with as few as 34 per cent in some regions at the weekend's local body elections.

Left-wing commentator Bryce Edwards said while there generally wasn't a link between turnout at local body and general elections, both had seen participation fall over time.

The weekend's low turnout was probably a result of it being a "business as usual election" with "really not much on the line and very little to inspire everyone".

That was reflected in the number of incumbents who were returned for another term.

Next year's general election was likely to be more polarising, especially with the arrival of new Labour leader David Cunliffe.

"There is a greater boldness about the Labour Party now and that will make the election a bit more polarised and more meaningful for some voters turned off by the tweedledum and tweedledee approach," Mr Edwards said.

Right-wing commentator David Farrar said there was a general downward trend in voter participation worldwide.

He agreed a lack of big political issues had contributed to turnout being low.

But postal voting had also been a significant factor. He knew "half a dozen people" who had forgotten to send off their ballot papers and had to race to the council offices to cast a last-minute vote.

"They have no relationship with a post office . . . and I think each year it's going to get much worse with postal voting because the postal system is becoming less relevant."

The Government has agreed to trial internet voting at the next election but Mr Farrar said it was not being implemented fast enough or widely enough.

THE FINAL TURNOUT (compared with 2010)

Wellington City Council

41.33 per cent v 39.54 per cent

Porirua City Council

36.46 per cent v 39.08 per cent

Kapiti Coast District Council

51.54 per cent v 49.00 per cent

Upper Hutt City Council

40.70 per cent v 44.34 per cent

Hutt City Council

36.50 per cent v 40.37 per cent

Masterton District Council

46.17 per cent v 54.44 per cent

Carterton District Council

45.23 per cent v 56.71 per cent

South Wairarapa District Council

44.98 per cent v 50.74 per cent

Horowhenua District Council

51.29 per cent v 52.05 per cent

Tararua District Council

48.02 per cent v 55.14 per cent

Taupo District Council

47.54 per cent v 54.83 per cent

Napier City Council

45.91 per cent 44.88 v per cent

Hastings District Council

43.30 per cent v 44.13 per cent

Central Hawke's Bay District Council

53.24 per cent v 56.16 per cent

Source: www.electionz.com

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