A slower postal service and procrastinating voters have been blamed in part for a slow start to voting in the local government elections.

Electoral officers are advising people to vote early if they are mailing their ballots, with one bracing for a "mad rush" as the deadline approaches.

Voter returns - the count of how many voting papers have been received for processing - for Bay of Plenty councils have been tracking at around half of where they were at the same point in previous elections.

Voting opened on September 23.


Voter return data to September 30 showed only 3.5