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.

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Voter return data to September 30 showed only 3.5

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