Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Voting paper gaffes mar local elections

Many residents have yet to receive ballot packs, while others have been given double-ups

Su'a William Sio
Su'a William Sio

Scores of voters are still waiting for ballot papers and police have launched two investigations as the local government elections are plagued by problems less than week out from polling day.

In parts of Auckland, voters are yet to receive voting packs and candidates are concerned delays could alter the election outcome.

In other parts, voters have received two sets of voting papers.

Tauranga and Gisborne police are also investigating two incidents.

In Tauranga, 290 voting packs were in two mail sacks that disappeared. In Gisborne, a man purporting to be a council volunteer went house-to-house offering to post completed ballot papers.

Candidates vying for seats on the Auckland Council say late deliveries are widespread and jeopardise the opportunity for people to vote.

"The three-week voting period is for people to vote, not for New Zealand Post to send out the papers," said North Shore ward candidate Grant Gillon.

With Wednesday's postal cut-off looming, Gillon is concerned that the ballots of those who have yet to receive voting packs will not get to be counted.

Upper Harbour Local Board candidate Brian Neeson - one of several candidates missing from election information booklets - is calling for a full audit and inquiry.

"If it's bigger than what they're letting on then we have a case for fresh elections." Neeson said he had heard that up to 50,000 booklets had significant printing errors.

New complaints have also surfaced about mis-matched candidate profiles and pages missing from many booklets.

In one Sandringham street, residents at a boarding house and several neighbouring households have not yet received their packs.

And Labour MP Su'a William Sio will have to cast a special vote because his has not arrived.

Yesterday, Local Government Minister Chris Tremain said he was concerned about the reported errors.

"I will be asking for an analysis after the elections of what has happened to see if there needs to be a change in the process."

Both politicians support moves to introduce online voting.

Auckland's electoral officer, Bruce Thomas, confirmed 11 instances where people had received more than one voting pack in the mail.

He said the mistakes were made in the Owairaka subdivision of the Eden-Albert-Roskill ward. But the Herald on Sunday is aware of more duplicate votes arriving at a home in a different part of the ward.

Thomas accepted the problem could be more widespread.

New Zealand Post spokesman John Tulloch confirmed that an error had been found in the production process.

Page 11: Shock poll has Palino closing on Brown. Page 12-13: Angry ratepayers seek SuperCity referendum.

• Next week: 10-page election special, with news, analysis and results from the local elections.


Voting pack missing

He's the shadow minister of local government but that doesn't exempt Su'a William Sio from problems at election time.

"I haven't even received my voting papers," laments the Labour MP for Mangere.

Sio said he shifted a few doors along the same street a few months ago and filed a change-of-address form online.

The postie has delivered only some of his household's voter packs.

"My wife and daughters received their voting papers and I didn't."

After waiting a few more days for the pack to arrive, he went back online and filled out a change-of-address form for a second time.

He is dreading the rigmarole of casting a special vote.

- Herald on Sunday

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