Huge drop in votes cast

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 11/10/2013

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Interest in the local-body elections is down across the region.

With just over a day to go until voting closes, returns are about 20 per cent down on 2010 numbers at the same time.

The Timaru district returned 56.53 per cent of votes in 2010, but only 42.90 per cent in this year's contest as of yesterday. In the Timaru ward, 43.75 per cent of votes were in, compared with 54.5 per cent for the same time in 2010.

Both the Geraldine ward at 39.34 per cent and the Pleasant Point-Temuka ward at 42.16 per cent were down on 2010 return rates.

Voters in the Mackenzie are proving to be enthusiastic, however, with the district rating high for returns.

Electionz.com counts the votes for 38 councils and figures yesterday showed Mackenzie was ahead of the other 37 councils on return percentages.

But its voting percentage is also down on 2010, with 51.27 per cent returned so far, compared with 57.5 per cent in the last election.

In the Waimate district, 44.96 per cent of voting papers had been handed in - also down from 48 per cent for the same time in 2010.

The best response was coming from the Waimate (49.71 per cent) and Hakataramea-Waihaorunga (51.50 per cent) wards, while the Pareora-Otaio-Makikihi (35 per cent) and lower Waihao (34 per cent) wards were lagging behind.

Timaru electoral officer Mark Low said he hoped voter return would reach at least 50 per cent by midday tomorrow when the election period ends.

"It is certainly the lowest at the moment since 2004," he said.

He said the numbers were following a "countrywide phenomenon" of lower returns.

"We are still one of the higher returns across the country," he said. "The reasons for low-return percentages are probably many and I can't really single out one particular thing."

The elections are held by postal vote and papers must be mailed or delivered to council offices to arrive by midday tomorrow.

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- The Timaru Herald

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