A decision to drop the siting of a polling booth at the
University of Otago during Dunedin's local body election is a
blow for voter turnout, Otago University Students'
Association president Francisco Hernandez says.
The Dunedin City Council made the decision over fears it
could appear to be a conflict of interest, because Mr
Hernandez, who is now standing for Dunedin City Council,
requested the booth.
Its purpose was to help students not on the roll to cast
Mr Hernandez said he was disappointed with the decision,
saying it would ''definitely lead to less students voting''.
''I think it will be the same old [terrible] turnout. This
was going to be the circuit-breaker that was actually going
to get students to vote,'' he said.
Having a polling booth on campus meant so much to him he
offered to withdraw as a candidate if it meant reinstating
the idea, but a recent change in rules meant he was not able
He emphasised he was acting on behalf of the OUSA when he
requested the booth and was not considering standing for the
However, he did understand the council had been presented
with a difficult set of circumstances.
Electoral officer Pam Jordan said the fact Mr Hernandez was
the one who asked for the booth made things ''quite
difficult'' for the council.
''It might seem to other candidates that we were providing
one particular candidate with his own polling place and we
couldn't be seen to be doing that,'' Ms Jordan said.
The council would be open to having a polling booth on campus
during the following local body election, she said.
The only polling booth would be at the council offices.