Super City Elections 2013: Aucklanders urged to vote

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Slow start a worrying sign as survey shows many Kiwis feel they don't know candidates

Aucklanders are being encouraged to vote. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Aucklanders are being encouraged to vote. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Aucklanders are being urged to have their say in local body elections as voting gets off to a slow start.

Ballot paper deliveries began on September 20 and by yesterday a total of 76,112 votes from around the city had been received, figures from Auckland Council showed.

That is the equivalent of only 7.65 per cent of people eligible to vote.

In the 2010 elections, 13.1 per cent of votes had been received over the same period.

The figures come as Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) releases results from a survey which indicates why many Kiwis do not vote in local body elections.

The majority of people, 31 per cent, said they did not participate because they did not know enough about candidates.

Other top reasons were because they forgot or left it too late, were too busy or were not interested in participating.

Figures since 1998 show a decreasing trend. In that election, 55 per cent of those eligible voted. In the next election, only half of the eligible voters did so and by 2007 the figure had dropped to 44 per cent.

Auckland's new Super City and particularly the mayoral race saw a surge of voting in 2010, taking the national average up to 49 per cent. However, going by this year's trends, it was expected only 46 per cent of Kiwis would be sending their forms back, LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said.

"If you took Auckland out at the last election, [the statistics] would continue to be dropping, which is not good. I think, unfortunately, what postal voting has done over time has sort of trivialised the voting decision. It comes in the mail with a whole lot of other mail."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and mayoral candidates John Palino and the Rev Uesifili Unasa yesterday called on people to get their votes in.

Mr Brown said: "Now that Auckland is united, it's more important than ever that we take part in the electoral process at all levels - mayoral, council, local board and district health board."

Mr Palino said a lot of people were not voting because they had had enough.

"People are not happy and so they're just not voting. But people need to vote, because they have a voice."

Mr Unasa said he had been working hard to make sure members of the Pacific community were casting votes this year, as numbers were infamously low at election time.

"A lot of people just don't think that local elections can make a difference in their lives. But what I've been telling people is that their vote can make a difference."

Top 5 reasons why you should vote

1. It's your democratic duty
2. Voting is a privilege many in other countries do not get
3. Voting will ensure you have your say - no matter what the outcome
4. Every vote counts. Yours just may be the deciding vote that gets someone in - or out - of a local board, district health board, council or even the mayor's office
5. You can't complain if you don't vote

Local body elections 2013

September 20-25: Voting papers delivered
October 9: Final date to post your votes to guarantee delivery
October 12 (noon): Voting closes. All voting papers must be hand-delivered or posted to arrive by this date and time in order to count in the result
Oct 17 - 23: Results declared

Your view

Vikk Reddy, 40s, Mt Roskill
"I've already voted ... just to have my say - I think that's important ... I think we need better public transport in Auckland and I've voted for the people who I think will get us that."

Karma Tino, 25, Ranui
"I think people who don't vote are just being lazy. I've got two kids and I'm voting for them and their future. I want to see more community support ... better playgrounds in parks and more lighting at parks."

Gloria Knight, 64, Rodney
"Yes, I will be voting. I like to vote because I want to see the people I like and think will do well stand. I think it's very important to vote in the local body elections and don't understand people who don't."

Julian Rivers-Smith, 23, Freemans Bay
"I'm not voting. I don't know anything about the candidates and just don't think me voting will make any difference. I went to vote last time and the process was really confusing so I'm not going to bother this time."

- NZ Herald

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