Time running out for local body elections voters

By Doug Laing

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Voters in Napier and Hastings are still dragging the chain in returning their local body elections papers heading into the last week of voting which will see a range of new mayors and councillors elected on Saturday.

Figures released on Friday, with two-thirds of the three-week polling period gone, showed 33,207 people had voted in the five local body areas in the Hawke's Bay Today circulation area - Napier City and Hastings, Central Hawke's Bay, Wairoa and Tararua districts.

It represented 26.98 per cent of the total of 123,097 on the rolls, but voting proportions were below the line in Napier, where 10,135 papers returned represented 23.64 per cent, and in Hastings, where the 13,474 returned by Friday represented 25.35 per cent.

Voting was particularly low in Napier's Nelson Park Ward, where a return of 2059 represented just 17.91 per cent of the 11,496 voters on the roll in the ward, which has two members on the Napier City Council.

At the last election, Napier had an eventual polling of 47.76 per cent, the highest in its postal vote history, but the lower poll to daste this year is being put down to the lack opf a mayoral contest, with first-term Mayor Bill Dalton re-elected unopposed.

Hastings had a 44.9 per cent return at the last election, the indications of possibly a lower return this year surprising election-watchers who expected some flow-on from the high polls for last year's vote against local government amalgamation in Hawke's Bay.

The highest polling in the current election is in Central Hawke's Bay where the 3613 votes received represents almost 38 per cent of those on the roll, and Wairoa where the 2050 who have returned their papers represent 37.3 per cent of those on the roll.

In 2013, Wairoa had the highest eventual polling returns in Hawke's Bay with 62.09 per cent. In both CHB and Wairoa, voting is up compared with the same stage of the 2013 election.

In Tararua, where there wss a 50.47 per cent return in 2013, polling is heaviest in the mainly Dannevirke North Ward, which has 6612 of the 12,060 on the roll. Over 35 poer cent in the ward had voted, though across the district, which stretches from Norsewood to Eketahuna, less than 33 per cent had voted.

Papers returned by post need to be posted before Thursday, or otherwise delivered to council booths, which will remain open until voting closes at midday on Saturday.

People not already on the roll and eligible to vote are still able to vote, by enrolling during the week and casting special votes.

Preliminary results will be announced throughout the country from early afternoon on Saturday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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