HASTINGS District Council Deputy Mayor Cynthia Bowers is encouraging people to make a difference by voting in the upcoming local body elections.

In 2013, only 19,927 people - less than half the eligible population of Hastings District - cast their vote in the local government election, according to data from the Department of Internal Affairs.

Ms Bowers said she was not sure why voter turnout was low, but thought it was not just a Hastings issue as voter turnout in elections for other local authorities, and central government was also low.

Ms Bowers, who will be standing for re-election this year, said she thought it was important people did vote.


"It's a right that we've all got, and that has been hard won," she said. "It's a very important way of having an influence on who represents you ... people can influence who gets elected, and the only way they can do that is by voting.

"If you don't vote, you can't complain."

Ms Bowers, who has been deputy mayor since 2001, disagreed with the perception that youth do not vote, saying a lot of young people she came across were very engaged.

"I don't think there's one single demographic [who don't vote], a lot of people are busy, or have the view that their votes aren't going to make a difference.

"That's a perception I'd encourage people to change, because by voting they can make a difference."

When asked what she thought could be done to improve voter turnout, Ms Bowers said she thought postal voting might discourage some people.

"E-voting has got to be the way of the future," she said, adding she had been disappointed the council had passed on their opportunity to be part of the electronic voting trial.

While online voting could bring its own issues, such as for those without access to a computer, Ms Bowers said local bodies needed to start transitioning.