South Canterbury tops voter turnout

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 26/06/2014

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South Canterbury has trumped the national average for voting enrolment.

Nationwide a healthy 89 per cent of New Zealand's eligible population was enrolled to vote by the end of May, but South Canterbury is at the head of the pack.

The Timaru District had the highest percentage of people enrolled, at 96 per cent, Mackenzie was second with 93 and Waimate came in third with 91 per cent.

South Canterbury registrar of electors Gisela Craig said she was happy with the region's high enrolment rates but there was still work to be done.

"We are targeting the 18-24 year-old age group. Nationally, they are the lowest and we are no different," she said.

Craig said her team has been approaching high schools to remind the students of the importance of voting.

"We are really encouraging principals and teachers that they need to allow us to inform the students about the importance of enrolling to vote. "This topic deserves more than 10 minutes. It's a really important one," she said. The age group in the Timaru District with the highest percentage of enrollees is 40-49.

Craig believed this was because of the stage those people were at in their lives.

"Probably at that age it is when they are most aware and affected by political changes. At other ages they don't think they need to worry about voting but this group make it a priority."

Craig said it is about to get extremely busy for her, leading into this year's general election. She will talk to a range of groups to ensure they are enrolled and that they do vote.

Nationally there was a 74 per cent turnout of voters at the last general election in 2011.

The two electorates South Canterbury voters fall into, Rangitata and Waitaki, just nudged ahead of the national average, Rangitata recording a 76 per cent voter turnout and Waitaki 79 per cent.

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- The Timaru Herald

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