Rotorua voters will be stuck with the status quo when it comes to voting in the next two local government elections.
In a 7-5 vote, councillors decided to stick to the first past the post voting system at a meeting of the council's Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee today. Councillors were asked to decide to adopt either the first past the post (FPP) or single transferable vote (STV) election system and how names would appear on voting papers - either alphabetically, randomly on each voting document, or a pseudo-random option for candidate names on voting documents.
Their decisions hold for the next two local body elections to be held in 2019 and 2022.
In a debate that lasted about an hour, councillors asked a range of questions, including if there was any difference between voter turnout with either system, and how many "informal" or incorrectly marked voting papers were received if there was a mixture of systems, as seen in Rotorua.
By law, the district health board must use the STV system, while the rest of the region - Rotorua Lakes Council and its community boards, plus the Bay of Plenty Regional Council - use the FPP system.
STV ranks candidates numerically in the voter's order of preference, while FPP allows voters to tick the box of the person or persons they want to vote for.
Some councillors argued the mixture of voting systems on voting documents confused voters which led to mistakes being made on voting forms.
This was backed up by the council's electoral officer, Warwick Lampp, who said the numbers of incorrectly filled in STV votes rose to between 8 and 9 per cent when the option appeared on voting forms along with the FPP system.
However, he said the numbers of incorrect forms dropped to between 1 and 2 per cent when the same voting system was used for all elections.
Councillor Karen Hunt said STV was a fairer system and, in her opinion, resulted in better representation across the board.
She also said the FPP system favoured incumbent elected members.
But, councillor Rob Kent argued there was no evidence to suggest STV was in any way better, fairer or easier to understand than the FPP system.