If you haven't voted in the local body elections, don't beat yourself up. It shows you're smart enough to have worked out this whole exercise is a joke.

By now, you might have realised the elections are probably being gamed. I was more naive. When a woman told me she could've voted six times under six names I felt outrage. Then a creeping sense of resignation.

She told me the envelopes all arrived at her home, addressed to people who had previously lived there. She resisted temptation. She didn't vote six times. She only opened one of the envelopes addressed to someone else, filled it in and sent it back.

I'm pretty sure that's electoral fraud. I'm also pretty sure this woman will never be found out. Chances are, the person she voted on behalf of hasn't bothered to cast their own ballots or even find out why their papers haven't arrived.

Advertisement

Which makes it amusing that the powers-that-be canned plans for electronic voting over fears it would be gamed. Lol. There's nothing more open to a bit of chicanery than relying on voting papers arriving at the right address, being filled in by the right person, and being sent back, all without any tampering or checking of ID at any point in the process.

Plus, nothing says "procrastinate" quite like snail mail. There's nothing urgent about correspondence that takes half a week to arrive at your house, half a week to remember to collect from the mailbox, and then a couple of weeks to finally clear from the kitchen bench. The worst way to make us care in the age of instant messages and constant phone calls, is to use a form of communication invented 2500 years ago.

You've probably also realised democracy at the local level is a joke. At least, the ratepayers of Kaipara and Canterbury have. They went through the rigmarole of researching which of the middle-aged, white, male candidates to pick, filling out the ballot papers and making a special trip to the post box, only to have all their elected councillors booted out and replaced with commissioners, AKA people central government thought could do a better job. In Kaipara, they haven't been able to elect their own councils for four years. In Canterbury, it has been six years.

Where's the democracy in that? Sure, the councils mightn't have been doing a good job, but how would we feel if another bigger country took a look at the National Party, thought they were doing a rubbish job, pulled them out of office and replaced them with people we'd never heard of?

Even if central government is generous enough to let us keep the councillors we choose, the Beehive can bully exactly what it wants out of them. For example, John Key and his mob didn't think Auckland Council was freeing up new land for houses fast enough recently, so they started making threats, and one of those threats sounded a lot like sacking the councillors and replacing them with commissioners.

You've probably figured that wasting an hour researching which candidate to vote for won't change much. Your rubbish will still be collected on Wednesday. Your library will still lend you books. Consents will still ruin your life, traffic lights will still be out of sync and water will still taste like chlorine.

So don't beat yourself up. You've saved yourself a good hour. In the meantime, we should get rid of the postal voting system.