16 Sep 2022

Local government elections: Voting period opens

11:24 am on 16 September 2022
Postal voting in local body elections.

Voting papers for this year's local government elections will begin arriving in registered electors' letterboxes from today. Photo: RNZ / Eveline Harvey

Many people across New Zealand will be receiving their local government election voting papers today.

Anyone who is enrolled can have a say in who their local leaders are, but voter turnout has been trending downwards for decades.

Local government and political representation expert Jean Drage told Morning Report voters should not put off filling in their voting papers once they received them.

"Don't ... put them into the pile and forget about them," she said.

"I would encourage people to vote as soon as possible, rather than leaving it, because there's a lot of work to do to actually vote."

She encouraged voters to take some time to understand what their local candidates stood for, saying the pamphlet provided alongside the voting papers was "only a beginning".

Post-election research shows around a third of registered electors don't vote because they feel they don't have enough information about the candidates.

However there was plenty of information available for voters wanting to dig deeper, Drage said, including on the Policy NZ website and on council websites, which often listed the public meetings being held.

The focus on some of the more controversial candidates standing in local body elections this year had made people "quite wary" about who to vote for, Drage believed.

"What I'm seeing is that people are doing a lot more work ... we're seeing a lot of candidates working quite hard to get their message out."

There were also a lot of public meetings being held and they were well-attended, she said.

"I think that people are being quite careful about who they vote for."

She encouraged voters to contact candidates directly if they had questions.

"Email candidates, ring them up, find out where they stand on the issues that are important to you."


Another issue that could complicate things for voters was the fact that different councils around the country used different methods of voting, Drage said.

Some use a single transferable voting (STV) system, where voters are required to rank candidates in order of their preference, while others use the first past the post (FPP) system, which only allows voters to select one candidate with a tick.

"There's 15 councils that are using STV this time round, so that's another complication for some people that live in areas where they might have STV for ... the council, and first past the post for the regional council," she said.

"You have to be really clear that when you do your voting that you know exactly which system's being used."

Important dates

Voting documents for this year's local government elections will begin appearing in people's letterboxes from today and all registered electors should receive their papers by 21 September.

Drage said anyone who did not receive their voting papers should contact their local council and request them.

Once completed, voting papers can be dropped into a post box (until 4 October) or into one of the secure ballot boxes at council service centres and libraries.

Votes must be returned by noon on Saturday 8 October.

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