A return to single-day local body elections is being mooted as local body leaders grapple with falling local body election voting statistics.

Of the three Hawke's Bay mayors seeking re-election - one already confirmed unopposed - both Napier Mayor Bill Dalton and Wairoa Mayor Craig Little indicated a preference for a return to polling day, although not ruling out the current polling day or online voting which at one stage was to have been trialled in some areas this year.

The third, Hasting mayor and Local Government New Zealand chairman Lawrence Yule, hopes a review of this year's election, which ends at midday tomorrow, will throw up some answers as to why voting numbers have declined, and whether the trends would be reversed by just changing the method of casting a vote.

The three were commenting yesterday as voting return showed that in the major urban areas of Napier and Hastings numbers will be well down on the numbers that voted in the last Local Elections in 2013.


Mr Little was the more adamant, saying: "It's a shame we don't all go back to the old days."

Mr Dalton believes it would be "worthwhile" to trial polling booth voting again, but Mr Yule said that while a return to polling days hasn't been seriously considered recently, but he says he "can't explain" the trends, although low voting trends are most prominent in bigger centres.

In Napier, where the absence of a mayoral contest is widely seen as the reason behind a dramatic decline - over 15 per cent based on polling numbers up to Wednesday - the election could end with three out of every five on the electoral roll of almost 43,000 having not taken up their right to vote.

The figures showed the 13,666 who had voted in Napier was 31.87 per cent of the roll, which compared with a 38.17 per cent vote with three days to go when Mr Dalton and five others battled for the city's vacant mayoralty in 2013.

In the Hastings District, with 37,268 on the roll in the Hastings city area stretching from Havelock North to Flaxmere and 15,875 across the smaller communities and rural areas, papers from just over 34 per cent had been received by late Wednesday, compared with 36.62 per cent at the same stage three years ago. It was particularly impacted by a low vote in Flaxmere, of just 23.94 per cent. Voting in the Hastings district's rural Kahuranaki ward was almost 38 per cent.

Voting in Wairoa was marginally down on 2013, when at 62 per cent the district had one of the highest votes in New Zealand, but electors were putting in a strong showing in central and southern Hawke's Bay where polls are expected to be up on 2013 figures, bolstered by elections for new mayors.

In Central Hawke's Bay the 4582 papers returned represented 48.14 per cent, compared with 46.68 per cent three years ago, and indicating a slim possibility the eventual poll could be over 60 per cent, while in Tararua, stretching from Norsewood to Eketahuna, the 5356 votes represented 44.41 per cent, compared with 41.91 per cent at the same stage of the last election.