9 Oct 2016

Low turnout prompts online voting rethink

8:21 pm on 9 October 2016

Voter turnout fell at this year's local elections and the government says it will have another look at online voting.

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Voter turnout dropped overall, but was up slightly in Wellington. Photo: RNZ

Based on preliminary results, overall voter turnout was 39.5 percent, down 1.8 percent on the last election, and much lower than 49 percent in 2010.

An Auckland Council spokesperson said the turnout there was 38.25 percent, only slightly higher than the 35.5 percent of the last election and falling short of the council's target.

The figures were released today after the counting of all but the special votes.

The council had spent $1.2 million on a campaign to try to boost turnout to 40 percent.

Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said central government was open to initiatives to promote better turnout.

He said that included online voting, which the government was considering trialling for this election, but ditched because of concerns about security.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said international evidence suggested introducing online voting did not lead to a significant increase in turnout, but suggested improvements could still be made.

"We need better quality information about candidates, we need better quality information about what councils do so that, you know, the ratepayer or New Zealanders understand what councils do.

"So we've got to understand who councillors are, who mayors are, what they do in councils and how they better serve New Zealanders."

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