Southern councils all reported low voter turnouts for the 2013 local body elections.
Many councils, including Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and the Gore District Council had less than 50 per cent of eligible voters put pen to paper and tick a box for a candidate of their choice.
Invercargill City Council electoral officer Graham Low said about 47 per cent of eligible voters had their say.
He said he did not know why voting had been so low in the city this year.
"You would be best off asking those on the streets . . I just don't know."
Apathy could partly account for why more than half Invercargill voters forfeited their democratic privilege.
Invercargill resident and eligible voter Stewart McDonald said he did not vote because he did not feel there were any outstanding candidates.
"I decided not to vote because I didn't know a lot about the candidates," he said.
Jason Hughes, of Invercargill, said he had a lack of political interest because "it appeared whoever got voted in didn't really listen to the people that voted them in".
The Southland District Council reported 46 per cent of eligible voters took part in the 2013 election.
Southland District Council voter Philippa McTavish, of Dacre, said a lack of knowledge of candidates and their policies would have meant she was just voting for a name she had heard.
Southland District Council electoral officer Virginia Dillon said she thought voting was slightly higher this year.
"No, I don't know why voting appears lower, the council have had more votes this year," she said.
The Gore District Council reported the lowest number of votes during the district's 24 year history with 41.5 per cent of eligible voters deciding who would sit around the Gore District Council table for the next three years.
Gore District Council electoral officer Tony Shepherd said a lack of a mayoralty race probably made a difference.
There were also no "real big issues" facing the Gore District Council, he said. "I have a feeling people are happy. If they weren't I am sure they would have voted with their feet."
Gore District mayor Tracy Hicks, who was elected unopposed, said getting more eligible voters to have their say was a national problem that had to be reversed.
There were several issues with the current voting system that needed to be looked at, he said.
The postal voting forms could be confusing and lead to apathy amongst people who did not have time to work through and post them, Mr Hicks said.
There was also too much time given to voters between when voting forms were sent out and election day, he said.
"It would also help if election day was an event and people got out to to a polling booth to have your say."
The Government has indicated it will trial online voting for the 2016 local council elections.
Mr Hicks said he would put his hand up for the Gore District Council to be part of the trial.
Online voting was something that could make it easier for many people to vote, he said.
Mr Low said only a few councils would trial the online system but he would be keen for Invercargill City Council to be one.
Ms Dillon said more people were IT savvy now and believed the district may benefit from an online voting system.
"I would be keen for electronic voting because it may increase voter turn out," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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