Hope for greater showing at polls

By Jordan Bond

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Participation in local elections has been falling nationwide since the 1980s.
Participation in local elections has been falling nationwide since the 1980s.

Bay residents will vote to decide the mayor, councillors, and board members in just six months' time - with hopes a campaign encouraging voting will lead to a higher turnout.

The three-yearly local authority elections will take place on October 8 around the country. Just 38 per cent of residents in both Tauranga and the Western Bay voted in the 2013 local elections, a decrease from the 2010 turnout and below the national average of 41 per cent.

Participation in local elections has been falling nationwide since the 1980s, which prompted Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) to launch a campaign to lift turnout to above 50 per cent - which hasn't been done since 1998.

The company conducting Tauranga City's election, electionz.com, said the Vote 16 campaign was strong and would, hopefully, result in a higher and more representative turnout.

"It's a very good idea - it has a good shot at succeeding," chief electoral officer Warwick Lampp said.

In the 2013 elections, the main reasons people gave for not voting were not knowing enough about the candidates (31 per cent), they forgot or left it too late (24 per cent), or they were not interested or were too busy (each 14 per cent).

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said the Vote 16 target was a "stretch", but he hoped the campaign could convince people to shape their community.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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