12 Oct 2013

Voter turnout similar to 2007

9:55 pm on 12 October 2013

Just 43% of voters have taken part in local government elections, similar to that of 2007 and down from 49% at the last election.

Local Government New Zealand president and newly returned Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule put the low voter turnout to voting papers being out there too long - three weeks.

Mr Yule said electronic voting needed to be introduced and perhaps a voting day, as suggested by the Auckland mayor Len Brown.

"I've had lots of people, even in Hastings, say 'we've voted for you (but) what day actually is the election'.

"So I think as opposed to a central government election, people lack focus and the immediacy of the day, and when you do that over a three-week period it tends to become rather ho-hum.

"So I think we need to have a much shorter period and focus on it on the day."

Mr Yule said electronic voting would be trialled in the 2016 local government elections.

Mr Brown said he wanted to see an end to the postal ballot, where the voter turnout dropped from 51% last election to 35% this time.

That was partly because there was as not as much interest as there was in the first super city mayoral race but the postal vote system did not help, he said.

"All our youngsters, all our under 40s, they're on their phones, they want to vote online, they complain that they can't vote online. They don't even know what it is to post an envelope."