Published: 28 September 2016
Voting is underway for the 2016 local elections and Local Government New Zealand is encouraging voters to have their say while there is still time.
Postal votes must be returned to the relevant council by 8 October and to meet the deadline should be in the post by 5 October. As part of its Vote2016 campaign to lift voter turnout to over 50 per cent for the first time since the 1980s, and to create a civic buzz around the process of voting, LGNZ is urging people to post their papers on Saturday 1 October – or ‘Vote Day’.
While turnout in local elections has been declining research commissioned by LGNZ this year suggested poor results are not because of disinterest.
While most of those who don’t vote say they didn’t know enough about candidates, they forgot, left it too late to post their ballot forms back in time or were too busy, only 14 per cent cited not being interested as the reason for not voting.
LGNZ Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander says this shows people are keen to have their say, but need to make sure they take the time to get involved in the election process.
“You can find out which candidates are standing in your area, whether for local or regional council and what they stand for, by reading your voting papers,” Mr Alexander says.
“The 2016 elections have also been well covered by the media and online so there is a good amount of information out there – you just need to look for it. Voting is easy; simply tick or rank your preferred candidate and put the reply paid envelope with your completed voting form in the mail.”
“To make sure people give themselves the best chance to have their say we are encouraging early voting on what we’ve dubbed Vote Day. It’s this Saturday and a good week out from the close of the polls, so the perfect opportunity to make a day of it and get involved in the democratic process.”
Mr Alexander says local government shapes the places we all live and work in, and three-yearly elections are the opportunity to select leaders who will make decisions on everything from roading and transport planning, to water supplies in your area.
“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 voting papers and post by Saturday 1 October to make sure it arrives in plenty of time to be counted,” Mr Alexander says.
To see how election returns are tracking in your area, check your local council’s website. Alternatively, www.electionz.com has data from 41 councils being updated daily.
If you’ve voted already and want to let your friends and family know, visit http://www.lgnz.co.nz/vote2016/voters/ive-voted to download an ‘I’ve Voted’ profile picture you can use in your Facebook and Twitter accounts.