The political group subject of a complaint at the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust elections is not removing a billboard sign alluding to a $345 payment to voters.
Communities and Residents (C&R) president Karen Sherry today said the centre-right group, which holds all five seats on the trust, will not be removing the signs.
"We don't believe they are misleading.
"They allude to a dividend paid every year to the beneficiaries of the trust. They publicise something everyone knows about," she said.
C&R put up a sign on its billboards that reads '$345 = VOTE C&R', prompting a complaint to the electoral officer.
On September 23, the 319,000 beneficiaries of the trust began receiving a $345 dividend from the trust.
The trust holds 75.4 per cent of the shares in the energy company Vector that go back to the former Auckland Electric Power Board. It acts in the interests of 319,000 businesses in Auckland, Manukau and parts of Papakura.
Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske told the Herald because the election was being held under the deeds of the trust and not the Local Electoral Act his powers were very limited.
He said he had written to C&R about the matter but it was up to them to remove or modify the sign. Ms Sherry said she had replied to Mr Ofsoske.
Only 7.3% of eligible voters have returned voting papers in Auckland Energy Consumer Trust election compared with 13.25% at the same time in the last election. With only a few more days before the postal ballot closes, the election is on target for an even lower turnout than the previous record low of 17.13 % who voted in the 2012 election, the centre-left City Vision ticket said in a statement.
"A lot is at stake in the election - a $2.5 billion asset, dividend payments to beneficiaries of the Trust of over $110 million; $345,000.00 in trustee fees and a $3.5 million annual bill to run the Trust but unfortunately voter turnout has been decreasing at every triennial AECT election and is on track for a disappointing low this election" says City Vision candidate Jeanette Elley.
"A combination of factors are responsible for the incredibly low voter turnout that works in favour of the incumbents such as lack of publicity about the AECT election and the role of the Trust, and diminishing postal services including the removal of post boxes" says Ms Elley.
Postal voting in the trust elections closes on October 30.