Officials probe missing election ballot papers

By Wayne Thompson

Photo / Christine Cornege
Photo / Christine Cornege

Electoral officials are investigating why more than a dozen east Mangere residents did not get their postal ballot papers for Saturday's Auckland Council elections.

The voting papers were given to NZ Post to deliver 18 days ago, says electoral officer Dale Ofsoske.

Checks showed voting documents were correctly addressed and had not been returned for counting.

"So there's no skulduggery going on."

He was waiting for a response from NZ Post about delivery issues.

The incident highlights confusion and a lack of general knowledge about voting in the election.

A HorizonPoll of 570 people showed 15 per cent had not received voting papers and most did not know when they had to be returned.

Resident Annette Conroy said Mr Ofsoske called her after she complained and was sending new voting papers.

However, she doubted there was time to meet the recommended deadline for posting ballot papers, which is 5pm tomorrow.

Alternatively, she could return the voting paper to a ballot box at Manukau City's civic centre or a library.

She knew of a dozen residents in John St and Walter St without papers and understood 20 or more others had missed out.

"Some might think it's too much rush and rigmarole to bother voting."

Many elderly or unwell residents would probably forgo their democratic right if they did not complain.

Mrs Conroy said her neighbour remarked that her hairdresser had asked her whether she had filled in her voting papers yet.

"That got us thinking, 'where were our papers?' It took a few calls over the weekend before I got on to the right people to complain to."

Mr Ofsoske said Mrs Conroy gave him three neighbours' names and he checked to see their voting documents were correctly addressed against the parliamentary roll of electors.

"Everything is tickety-boo from our side of things."

He asked anyone who had not received their voting pack to call his office and they would be sent papers.

If left until later in the week, he said he could not guarantee getting forms to them, even by Fast Post, in time for them to be returned when voting closed at midday Saturday. In that case, special votes were available at council offices.

A Manukau City Council spokeswoman said people should bring proof of identity if they wished to get a voting form and cast their vote at the civic building.

Otherwise they could take the form home and post it, or return it to the office, which would be open on Saturday morning.

A Manukau Ward candidate for Auckland Council, Silvia Taylor, said she found many letterboxes either broken or spilling mail when on her rounds delivering pamphlets.

This left postal voting "wide open to corruption" by organisations picking up voting forms lying on the streets.

For voting packs contact Auckland Electoral Office on 09-973-5212 or 0800-922-822.

- NZ Herald

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