The number of people who have voted in the Hawke's Bay local government reorganisation is likely to be close to a quarter of those on the roll by the time the vote enters it's last fortnight today.
Chief returning officer Warwick Lampp said current voting trends are similar to the only previous local government reorganisation poll decided by postal vote, in the Nelson region three years ago.
Voting in the Hawke's Bay poll started when distribution of voting papers started eight days ago, the mail opened yesterday containing 9114 votes (8.22 per cent of those on the roll). It took the total received to 21,157, or 19.08 per cent of the 110,905 registered to vote in the region.
All of the votes had come from voters in the areas of the Napier City Council, and the Hastings, Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa district councils. It has been proposed the councils should amalgamate with Hawke's Bay Regional Council as one Hawke's Bay Council. But counting of how many are "For" and how many are "Against" won't start until voting closes at midday on September 15.
The biggest vote to date has come from Napier - the 9004 votes representing 21.05 per cent of those on the roll for the district. In the Hastings District there had been 8881 votes, 16.74 per cent of the roll.
Like Napier, Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa, with all three mayors having expressed strong opposition, have also had votes passing 20 per cent of those on the roll for the areas. According to Electionz.com figures last night, no votes had been received from two tiny pockets of the Rangitikei or Taupo districts, which together have fewer than 50 people registered to take part.
Ironically, it was Rangitikei, with 12 registered eligible, that initiated the poll under conditions which meant a referendum could be called by petition of 10 per cent or more of voters in any of the six wards. The last local government reorganisation poll in Hawke's Bay was a polling day vote on October 30, 1999, on a proposal to merge Napier and Hastings.
The turnout was 70.1 per cent of the 76,029 on the rolls. While Napier had the smaller roll it had the bigger turnout in both number and proportion. Napier's turnout of 76.66 per cent, compared with 65.55 per cent across the Hastings district.
While Hastings voted 18,002 votes to 8639 in favour, Napier voted against, by 19,929 to 6788, effectively defeating the proposal, a majority "For" having been required in each area for a merger to have taken place.
If it had been a combined vote, it would also have been defeated. Of the 57,734 votes, 53.1 per cent were "Against."
The only previous local government reorganisation poll done by postal vote was in 2012 when a proposal to "unite" Nelson City and Tasman District drew 63.83 per cent of the 22,563 votes.