4 Oct 2022

Local body elections: Voter turnout lagging behind in provincial cities

9:57 am on 4 October 2022

The number of local election votes cast in the major metropolitan cities is now roughly on par with the last local body election, but many provincial centres are lagging behind.

Postal voting in local body elections.

Voting in some cities is similar to the last vote in 2019, but some are experiencing far lower voter turnout. Photo: RNZ / Eveline Harvey

Christchurch is doing particularly well, sitting five percentage points above the same point in 2019, while Wellington and Dunedin are now up more than one percentage point.

Auckland is slightly down at 16.7 percent, compared to 17 percent last time - but the total number of votes is actually up 10,000 compared to last election, it's just cancelled out by the city's growing population.

But it is a less rosy picture for some provisional cities, with Taupō, Napier and Queenstown all down 5 percentage points, and Nelson down 2.5 points.

Hamilton is really lagging at 12.4 percent compared to 21.1 percent last election.

Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske said the city has had changed to the STV voting system, and now has Māori wards which could both be a factor.

Ofsoske is also the managing director of Election Services, which is one of the two companies that run local body elections.

It covers Auckland and a number of other North Island electorates.

As of yesterday, average turnout for all its electorates was 16.8 percent, compared to 19.1 percent last election and 21 percent in 2016.

Ofsoske said generally the smaller provincial towns have the healthier numbers; though the Far North at 17.6 percent compared to 26.7 percent in 2019 was a notable exception.

Ofsoske is expecting an "avalanche" of votes to arrive in the next few days, and total votes could still get up to 2019's turnout of 42 percent or a percentage or two lower.

Many electorates have voting boxes at supermarkets, libraries and other council properties where people can drop off their ballot right up until midday on election day this Saturday.

Today is the last day people can send their vote through the mail.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs