Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

'Game' helps Local Body election voters pick a mayor

Online tool Vote Local has been launched to help voters in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North match their values with mayoral candidates. Photo/Supplied
Online tool Vote Local has been launched to help voters in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North match their values with mayoral candidates. Photo/Supplied

Exercising your democratic right to choose who leads your community is not a game.

But deciding who gets your vote might be, thanks to a new online tool designed to help young Kiwis tick the box in local body elections.

Vote Local was developed by Massey University's College of Creative Arts' Design+Democracy research unit and went live early September.As of yesterday there had been 15,000 unique visitors to the site.

Massey lecturer Karl Kane was part of the team that developed the tool, which helps voters figure out which candidate best matches their values.

"[The aim is] let's introduce people to what a city does, who is standing and what they stand for. We don't care how people vote, we just want them to vote."

The tool was focused on the mayoral elections in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North, but was especially targeted at those aged 16 to 20, a demographic less likely to vote.

While 16 and 17-year-olds can't vote it did no harm to get them thinking about the process before their 18th birthday, Kane said.

Candidates from the three mayoral contests targeted had been asked to answer a series of questions designed to avoid yes or no answers, he said.

"[Such as] if I have x amount to spend on x project this is how I spend it. We call it a gameful questionnaire."

Ten questions were based on "ethos and values" and were the same across all three cities. The remaining five were adapted to cover hot topics relevant to each city.

Users answered the same questions and, along with their responses matching up with particular candidates, they would see their "own city form", Kane said.

"They will have a visual landscape [appear]. It's beautiful. It's a Simpsons-esque cityscape they form.

"Every time I play I always want to see what comes up next, it's like 'where have all those cyclists come from, oh a train's popped up'."

Each question also had a description behind it, accessed by digitally flipping the panel, which explained what the question was about.

The team behind the project hope to have it available in all contests, including local and district health boards, by the next local body election in 2019, Kane said.

- NZ Herald

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