Enrolment numbers high in the south

CASSANDRA POKONEY
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2014

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Southlanders are determined to have their say in the general election, with enrolment numbers high in both Invercargill and Clutha-Southland.

Census records show the south has an ageing population and figures held by elections.org.nz, the organisation responsible for compiling, recording and analysing enrolment and voting information in New Zealand, reflect that - the largest age bracket of enrolled voters is the over-70s.

In both the Invercargill and Clutha-Southland electorates, the over-70s number above 6000, by far the largest age bracket in either seat. As of August 31, in Invercargill that figure is 6928, while in Clutha-Southland it is 6040.

Next are the 50- to 54-year-olds - in Invercargill they number 4801, while in Clutha-Southland there are 4642 registered to vote.

But while it is voter numbers that win elections, the proportion of the population from each group registered to vote, or sometimes more tellingly, not enrolled, is also gaining attention.

Invercargill has the second-highest youth enrolment rate in the country - 87.8 per cent of the eligible 18- to 24-year-old population are enrolled to vote.

This is behind only Wairarapa (92.7 per cent) and well above the national figure of 72.49 per cent.

Invercargill also records high enrolment rates in other age groups - the 50-54 bracket sits at 99.4 per cent, while the 45-49 bracket is on 99.2 per cent.

In the Clutha-Southland electorate, traditionally dominated by National and the home of Finance Minister Bill English, the overall enrolment rate of 87.3 per cent is considerably below the national figure, with rates hitting the 90 per cent mark in only seven of the 11 age groups so far.

Particularly low is the 30-34 age group - only 67.98 per cent of eligible voters are enrolled.

Conversely, in Invercargill, the rate in that group is relatively high, at 93.89 per cent.

Otago University politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards said enrolment rates depended on several factors, the most significant of those, where voters called home.

In Invercargill, where the population of 18 to 24 years was relatively stable, enrolment rates could be higher than in areas where there were lots of students or where the population was more transient, he said.

The transient nature of the agricultural industry could also be behind the low enrolment rates in the Clutha-Southland 30-34 bracket, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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