Western Bay District Council will tomorrow weigh up whether to stick with its traditional election voting system or opt for an alternative that offered "fewer wasted votes".
Options facing tomorrow's council meeting were the status quo first past the post system, the single transferable voting system, or to let the people decide by holding a poll of electors.
The pros and cons of each system were set out in a report. The main advantages of first past the past (FPP) were that it was familiar to most people, was straightforward and the results showed exactly how many people voted for which candidate.
The advantages of single transferable voting (STV) was that there were fewer wasted votes, it was virtually impossible to cast a tactical vote, the results reflected the wishes of the majority of voters, and it offered more equitable minority representation.
STV was the system currently used to elect members of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
If the council opted for either STV or FPP, residents unhappy with the choice could demand a poll by collecting signatures from 5 per cent of the district's electors.
Deciding which electoral system to use for the 2019 and 2022 elections was the first phase of decision making required by the Electoral Act.
A potentially more controversial task facing the council later this year would be whether to introduce a Maori ward. The decision needed to be made by November 23.
Assuming the composition of the council remained at 11 councillors plus the mayor, then one of the councillors would be voted from a Maori ward, leaving the rest elected from the general wards.
The report said the council needed to be mindful of its obligation to be aware of community views and "to account for the diversity within our communities and to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to decision making".
It went on to say that the council needed to adopt a proposal that it was sure the community would support.
"An engagement plan will be a key component in providing opportunities for our communities to contribute to the process."
Rather than make a decision on a Maori ward that could then be challenged by electors demanding a poll, the council could opt to run its own poll on the issue.
Other decisions on the district's representation, including whether to keep with the wards and community boards system, would need to be decided by August 31 next year.
Disadvantages of first past the post
- Does not reflect the electoral wishes of the majority of voters.
- A block of like-minded voters can determine the election.
- Votes can be used to prevent a candidate from winning.
- More wasted votes.
Disadvantages of single transferable voting
- Harder to understand.
- May be perceived as complex and discouraged voters.
- Results do not show how many votes candidates received.
- Vote counting required a computer and results took longer.