Hamilton City Council chief executive Richard Briggs is calling for major reform of local government elections to boost voter turnout, claiming the current system is "demonstrably broken".
The call for a reform has been backed by former mayoralty and west ward candidate Louise Hutt, who missed out on a West Ward seat by just under 80 votes.
Voter returns in Hamilton went up from 33.6 per cent in 2016 to 39.43 per cent this year - an increase of 6 percentage points and nearly 20 per cent more voters, up from 33,555 to 40,497.
It is a different story to the downward voting trend seen throughout the country - but Mr Briggs remains far from satisfied.
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"Firstly, I want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts put in by Hamilton candidates and groups right across the city to encourage people to take an interest and vote in the election. Without their efforts, I think the Hamilton turnout would have been far worse," Briggs said.
"But, while we've clawed our way back up the ladder instead of languishing at the bottom, is it good enough to have such a small portion of people in Hamilton vote? I just don't think it is. It's not acceptable, not for a city on a massive growth trajectory and with huge challenges in front of it."
"The problem is nationwide - rural and urban. Across the board, voting numbers generally were really poor - that's all there is to it."
Hutt said that the current system of voting, First Past the Post (FPP) and postal voting were outdated and needed to be changed.
"It's unbelievable that we use postal voting when we know housing insecurity is a huge issue - not just in Hamilton but across New Zealand," she said.
"It further disadvantages people who are already marginalised and may not see themselves represented in our political system," Hutt said.
Hutt said the Hamilton City Council should change to the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system, which involves voters ranking the candidates.
"It also allows voters to communicate their intentions by ranking candidates - we prefer some candidates more than others, it's not black and white like First Past the Post makes it out to be, our choices would change if we knew one candidate definitely wasn't going to get in, and STV allows us to communicate that.
In 95 per cent of STV elections, each voter elected at least one of the final candidates - and people are far more likely to stay engaged with council if they feel their vote mattered.
Briggs is calling on the local government sector to "step up" and address the issue head on. He also wants central government to take an active role in looking at what electoral changes might be needed and can be implemented before the next local government election in 2022.
"I don't have a firm view on what needs to change; I'm not an expert in electoral processes. But we need to look at a wide range of issues including dates, the voting system itself, lack of engagement from young people and more," Briggs said.
Ideas such as online voting were floated in the last term, but Hutt does not feel this is the golden ticket.
"As someone who has worked in technology and core services, I can tell you there are so many issues with online voting - security, anonymity, verification, accessibility, reliability, scrutineering.
"It's very frustrating when people put up technology as a magical solution when online voting has almost all of the same issues as postal voting, it just sounds flasher. Look at the Census for example - it's been a nightmare and we cannot afford to have the same issues with our democracy," Hutt said.
She also said that there should be added focus on providing education to young voters while they are at schools.
"I voted in the 2016 election, but I didn't vote in any local body elections before that because I didn't know how they worked or why they were important. "We absolutely need civics education, but for schools and for adults."