Online voting to be trialled next local elections

6:05 am on 14 October 2013

Work is already under way to explore the option of online voting for the 2016 local government elections, the Government says.

Throughout New Zealand, just 43% of eligible voters took part in Saturday's elections, a drop from 2010 but on par with three years earlier.

Local Government New Zealand and mayors including Auckland's Len Brown and Dave Cull in Dunedin believe online voting is probably the way of the future.

There has also been debate on allowing people three weeks to vote, as opposed to one day for general elections.

Local Government Minister Chris Tremain says online voting will be tried out in the 2016 elections and a working party is looking at various options and the cost.

He says voters who don't have access to the internet must be kept in mind and one of the options explored will be a system of both postal and online voting.

"The problem with that is that it's a very expensive option, particularly if you were to do that across the country," he says.

"There are a number of councils that have put their hand up and said they'd like to trial the straight-out online option so I think we've got a number of things to consider before we agree to a full 2016 rollout."

Mr Tremain says security will be paramount if New Zealand does move to online voting, and that will be helped by the RealMe digital verification system introduced in the last few months.