19 Aug 2016

Election turnout hampered by post - Council

10:00 am on 19 August 2016

Postal voting is hampering the Auckland Council's bid to lift voter turnout in October's local body elections, it claims.

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The government this year decided against allowing any trials of online voting. Photo: 123rf

The council is spending $1 million encouraging younger people and ethnic communities to vote, as it tries to lift last election's 35 percent turnout to at least 40 percent.

Turnout slumped following the 51 percent level in the 2010 election - the first for the amalgamated 'super city' council - and in 2013 the city had the second-lowest participation in the country.

"In Auckland older New Zealand Europeans who own their own home and have lived in Auckland for more than 10 years are more likely to vote than younger, especially younger Asian residents who don't own their own home," said the council spokesperson Marguerite Delbet.

While the council has launched a roadshow and social media campaign Ms Delbet said there were also structural hurdles such as the law requiring postal voting, and the three week period to return voting papers spanning the school holidays.

The government this year decided against allowing any trials of online voting, something which the council had lobbied to trial.

"Postal voting is not helping in an age when we do everything online and digitally. For people to have to revert to pen and paper and then find a post box is not ideal, " she said.

The formation of new political ticket Auckland Future has been tipped as a possible help in the south suburbs, where turnout was at the city's lowest at 29 percent.

Auckland Future is a National Party aligned group focussing on central and northern wards. However the majority of those at its campaign launch were from its southern board and ward efforts.

Efeso Collins, who was running for Labour in the Otara-Papatoetoe ward, said while he wanted the votes, he thought the additional campaign by Auckland Future could encourage more voting.

"It means people are thinking something's going on here - it raises that level of consciousness about what's going on," said Mr Collins.

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