New Zealand's voter turn-out has been in sharp decline in the past 30 years and the head of the Electoral Commission is doing all he can to reverse that trend.

Robert Peden visited the Whanganui electorate headquarters in Bates St, Wanganui recently as part of a nationwide tour.

"I've been to every electorate to see how preparations for the elections are going, and I'm pleased to see some great work being done here in Wanganui," Mr Peden said.

Mr Peden is the chief electoral officer for the Electoral Commission, the independent body responsible for running New Zealand's general elections.


He said the voter turn-out in the 1984 elections was nearly 94 per cent, and that had dropped sharply to just over 74 per cent in the 2011 elections.

The reasons for this were complex, he said.

"The reasons we've identified are that people are too busy to vote, they're not interested, they don't believe their vote will count, or they can't make up their mind.

"We want everyone to know that voting takes five minutes - and your vote does count."

Of particular concern were younger people not voting, he said.

"There are currently 320,000 people not enrolled and of those, 180,000 are under 30. Their voices need to be heard."

Mr Peden said New Zealanders were among just 11 per cent of world citizens who were able to vote in a stable democracy.

He said in an effort to bump up voter turn-out, voting has been made as easy as possible, including allowing any eligible voter to cast an advance vote. In previous elections a voter needed a reason, such as being overseas on election day, to cast an advance vote.

"Advance voting is already underway, and people seem to find that very convenient," Mr Peden said.

In the 2011 election, 15 per cent of votes were cast in advance and Mr Peden believes that figure will be up around the 25 per cent mark this year. Already around 50,000 advance votes have been cast, up from around 19,000 at the same time last elections.

New measures have been brought in to assist people with disabilities to vote, including a system that will allow blind or vision impaired people to cast their vote by phone dictation service.

"My experience is that people with disabilities are very keen to have their say in the elections," Mr Peden said.

On election day there will be 66 polling booths throughout the Whanganui electorate, which runs from Wanganui to Stratford.

Advance voting is currently available at electorate headquarters, 6 Bates St, Whanganui. To enrol to vote phone 0800 37 76 56. For more information about the elections, visit