Time short for would be Bay voters

By Lydia Anderson

Hawke's Bay voters are running out of time to enrol to vote in October's local body elections.

More than 2000 Hawke's Bay voters have been removed from the electoral roll after their enrolment packs were returned to enrolment officials marked "gone no address". Voters have just a few days left to register before the August 16 deadline.

Napier City Council deputy electoral officer Elaine Cooper said she hoped the potential "shuffle round" of councillors and prospect of a new mayor would generate more voter interest than in previous elections.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott will not seek a return to office.

During the 2010 local body elections, just 45 per cent of eligible Napier voters bothered to cast a vote, 44 per cent in Hastings and 56 per cent in Central Hawke's Bay.

"I would say that the main issue last time round was that there were a lot of existing councillors re-standing and the same mayor, and the reflection of that was that there was only one new person," Mrs Cooper said.

"I imagine the turnout will be better [this year]."

The Electoral Commission mailed update packs to the 3.1million people on the electoral roll at the start of July, and about 70,000 bounced back nationwide.

Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule said there had been an overall decline since postal voting was phased in although numbers increased marginally at the 2010 election.

Only about 50 per cent of eligible voters voted.

"It is disappointing that the voter turnout has been dropping."

He did not know what was causing voter apathy.

"We've tried to get to the bottom of that and we haven't got an easy answer."

Specific local issues affected voter turnout, such as referendums on fluoride use in town water supplies.

Mr Yule said local elections were of huge importance for ratepayers.

Enrolment Services national manager Murray Wick said voters who had moved and not updated enrolment details had been removed from the roll.

People have until August 16 to enrol to receive their voting papers in the mail.

By the numbers:

  • Electoral Roll total voters at July 1: Napier 43,065, Hastings 52,730, Central Hawke's Bay 9496

  • Number of voters removed: Napier 926, Hastings 927, Central Hawke's Bay 160

  • Percentage of total district roll removed: Napier 2.2, Hastings 1.8, Central Hawke's Bay 1.7

  • Total voters at 2010 local body election: Napier 18,581, Hastings 20,720, Central Hawke's Bay 5245

  • Percentage of total district voter turnout in 2010: Napier 45, Hastings 44, Central Hawke's Bay 56

- Hawkes Bay Today

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