12 Oct 2013

Social inequality worsens low turnout - lecturer

10:35 am on 12 October 2013

A politics lecturer at Canterbury University says an increase in social inequality is exacerbating the problem of low turnout in local body elections.

Bronwyn Hayward told Morning Report on Thursday that, on average overall, only 44% of people vote in local government elections.

While there are no figures available on the turnout among ratepayers across the board, a snapshot into their behaviour is provided by the numbers on non-resident ratepayers including landlords and bach owners, where figures are available. Turnout among this group is up to 86% - 79% for urban 86% for rural.

Dr Hayward says the increase in people renting rather than owning their home is making the problem worse.

"It does make it more difficult because as people are moving and really transitory, their addresses keep changing, all sorts of dropout points.

"It's when we actually look at all the barriers that we make local government difficult and distant from the issues that really matter to people."

Dr Hayward says it is too easy to blame apathy alone for low turnout.