Voting for dummies

Last updated 13:44 27/07/2013

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Election 2013

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Local body elections will be held in two months. Narelle Henson explains what you need to know. 

Why you should care

Come October, you get the opportunity to do something millions around the world would love a chance to do; place a vote and choose your leaders. The local body elections will give you a chance to influence how your community is run, via the people you elect to represent you.

The people you choose will have a huge influence over your life, from how to maintain water quality in the Waikato River, to which streets need upgrades, to whether a green space should be up for development, to what the hospital next invests in. That, says Hamilton City Council democracy manager and electoral officer Jude Pani, is why you need to get out and vote.

"It's about the future of the city; it's having a say in your future and your children's future," she says.

Ms Pani will be running the Hamilton City Council elections as well as two referendums that voters will get a chance to participate in.

"It's an opportunity, after all it's our rates. We are all working for the Hamilton community and now we get to have our say."

To help you get ready for the election, we have prepared an Idiot's Guide to what councils do. Enjoy, and remember the most important thing you can do is vote.

 

On your ballot paper

Regional Council: You will get a chance to vote for the 14 people you want to represent you.

Territorial Council: You will get a chance to vote for the mayor and your preferred councillors.

Waikato District Health Board: You will get a chance to rank your seven preferred representatives on the board.

Hamiltonians: You will be required to undertake two polls as well as the above. One is on which voting system should be used for the next two elections and the other is on whether you want fluoride in your water.

Who you will be voting for

1. Waikato Regional Council

Fourteen members who will elect their own chairperson.

2. Waikato District Health Board

Seven members. The Minister of Health chooses an additional four members, plus the chairperson and deputy chairperson.

3. Hamilton City Council

Mayor and 12 councillors.

4. Waipa District Council

Mayor, 12 councillors and 10 community board members.

5. Waitomo District Council

Mayor, six councillors, no community board members.

6. Waikato District Council

Mayor, 13 councillors and 30 community board members.

7. Thames-Coromandel District Council

Mayor, eight councillors and 20 community board members.

8. South Waikato District Council

Mayor, 10 councillors and four community board members.

9. Otorohanga District Council

Mayor, seven councillors and eight community board members.

10. Taupo District Council

Mayor, 10 councillors, and six community board members.

11. Rotorua District Council

Mayor, 12 councillors, and four community board members.

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12. Matamata-Piako District Council

Mayor, 11 councillors, no community board members.

13. Hauraki District Council

Mayor, 12 councillors and no community board members.

What they do

Waikato Regional Council:

The Waikato Regional Council "manages the region's natural and physical resources", according to its website. It is responsible for maintaining water, soil and air quality as well as managing pest control, public transport and regional parks. It is also in charge of civil defence in the event of an emergency.

Waikato District Health Board:

The region's largest employer with more than 6000 staff, the Waikato District Health Board "plans, funds and provides healthcare to the Waikato", according to its website. It is responsible for ensuring the health needs of the region's 371,540 people are met. Seven of its members are elected and four are chosen by the Ministry of Health.

Territorial authorities (city or district councils):

By law, councils are given great scope in their responsibilities. The reason for this is to allow them to meet the specific needs of their community. The Local Government New Zealand website lists them as responsible for "water reticulation, sewerage and refuse collection, libraries, parks, recreation services, local regulations, community and economic development, and town planning".

Wards:

Some councillors are chosen from smaller geographical areas within a district to represent their community. For example, Hamilton has two wards, East and West, with six councillors elected from each.

Community Boards:

These consist of between four and 12 people who are either elected or appointed by a territorial authority. They undertake whatever tasks are assigned to them by the council, and often act as the voice of the community to a council.

Timeline

July 19: Nominations opened for those wanting to put their name forward for election.

August 16: Nominations close at noon.

September 20: Voting documents sent out to enrolled voters.

October 12: Voting closes at noon.

October 17: Official declaration of results, although they will already have been indicated.

How to vote

The first step in making sure you can vote is applying to enrol with the Electoral Commission. You have until August 16 to get enrolled. If you are a property owner in an area other than the one in which you live, you can vote in both areas. To do this you will need to request to be enrolled on the ratepayer roll. If you are enrolled on the Maori roll, you will be able to vote for representatives for any Maori constituencies. After enrolling, it is easy.

You will receive a voting pack in the mail. Fill it in and return it, then wait to see the results.

Voting systems

There are two different voting systems used in local body elections. First-past-the-post (FPP) is used for regional and territorial elections. The people who receive the most votes win.

For example, in Hamilton the 12 people who receive the most votes win seats on council. Of those who stood for mayor, the person with the most votes wins.

Single transferable vote (STV) is used in the Waikato District Health Board elections. Each voter ranks all candidates in order of preference.

A computer program works out who the most preferred candidates are, according to rankings, and the top seven win seats.

Apply to enrol at enrol.elections.org.nz/app/enrol/, or call 0800 36 76 56 to request a form.

- Waikato

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