LGNZ Chief Executive urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of voting in local elections

LGNZ Chief Executive urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of voting in local elections

Monday, September 30, 2013

Most reasons people give for not voting in local authority elections simply don’t wash, says Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Chief Executive, Malcolm Alexander.

With voting underway for the 2013 local authority elections, research commissioned by LGNZ has shown only 14 per cent of non-voting is down to people not being interested.

Most of the non-voters admitted they didn’t vote either because they don’t know enough about the candidates, had forgotten, left it too late to post their ballot forms back in time, or they were too busy.

However, Mr Alexander says most of these reasons are easily overcome.  He urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of participating in the selection of those who will make decisions that affect most people’s lives on a daily or hourly basis.

“You can find out which candidates are standing in your area, whether for local or regional council, or the district health board and what they stand for, by reading your voting papers, or simply by going to www.vote.co.nzand typing in your address,” said Mr Alexander.

“Once every three years you are given the democratic right to participate in selecting leaders who will make decisions on everything from roading and transport planning, to water supplies in your area – not to mention setting the rates bill which will be sent to you every quarter to pay for these vital services.

“If something is important enough then people make time for it, and voting is very important.  This is your opportunity to make a difference to your community.  I would urge people to fill in their ballot and get it into the post today.

“In an established democracy, like New Zealand, voting might seem something of a chore, but in many parts of the world the opportunity to decide who will govern your community is something that can only be dreamed about.”

Overall voter turnout has been declining in New Zealand with only about 50 per cent of eligible people casting their ballot.

Main reasons people give for not voting:

  • don’t know enough about candidates  (31 per cent);
  • forgot or left too late (24 per cent);
  • too busy (14 per cent); and
  • not interested (14 per cent).

Main reasons people give for voting:

  • it is a democratic duty (26 per cent);
  • to have a say (17 per cent); and
  • you cannot complain if you haven’t voted (seven per cent).

Voting papers need to be filled in and posted in time to reach the electoral office by 12 noon on Saturday 12 October.  Those who haven’t enrolled may still vote by casting a special vote.  Contact your local council to find out what is involved.

If you need information on who you can vote for, whether it is the local council, district health board or regional council, go to www.vote.co.nz, to find out who is standing and what they are standing for.

 

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For more information, please contact LGNZ’s Director of Advocacy, Helen Mexted, on 029 924 1221 or email helen.mexted@lgnz.co.nz.