Barry Soper: Local body elections a chance to have your say

By Barry Soper

So far, early voting in our biggest city, Auckland, is woeful at just under 20 per cent. Photo / Dean Purcell
So far, early voting in our biggest city, Auckland, is woeful at just under 20 per cent. Photo / Dean Purcell

If you are politically motivated and want to have a sleep in on Saturday, today is D-Day for getting your local Government vote in the mail.

If you're up and about on Saturday, you've got until noon to get to the polling booth with your papers.

Unfortunately, it seems there's little motivation to have your say on who should run our towns and cities.

So far, early voting in our biggest city, Auckland, is woeful at just under 20 per cent and even in the capital, which was the only city to lift voter numbers three years ago, the enthusiasm at this stage is about the same as Auckland.

Even Prime Minister John Key admitted the other day he hadn't voted, even though he'd filled out the forms, because he was still looking for a postbox.

That, if nothing else, is a good reason we should have at least trialled online voting this time round, but the Beehive flagged it because they had concerns for the security of the ballot and said it was too early for a trial.

Now this, as much as anything else, is a shout out to the young who have an abysmally poor voting record when it comes to putting their ticks alongside the names for City and Regional Councils, for local wards and health boards.

At the 2010 election, just 34 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds exercised their democratic right, while 89 per cent of those aged above 70 filled out the papers, which means the property-owning baby boomers rule the local authority roost, while those who're struggling to get a foot on the ladder, have themselves to blame if decisions are being made that they don't like.

It seems the young can't be bothered, they're not interested, are too busy or simply forget the elections are on.

It's time they realised that ratepayers aren't the only ones affected by civic decisions that involve environmental issues like air quality and preserving our waterways and providing liveable and green spaces in urban areas.

They're responsible for providing safety in our cities and public places along with recreational opportunities for the young.

And those with a social conscience should be aware of council housing and housing for the homeless which is part of a local authority's brief, along with attracting businesses and increasing job opportunities.

If 77 per cent of us can get out to vote in the general election, surely we can do better than the miserable 41 percent who voted in the last local body turnout!

Barry Soper is the Political Editor for Newstalk ZB

- Newstalk ZB

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