The Dunedin City Council has volunteered to participate in a
planned trial of online voting in a bid to reverse a trend of
dwindling voter turnout.
Councillors at Monday's full council meeting voted to
volunteer for a trial, plans for which were being considered
by an online working party established by the Government last
The working party was to study the feasibility of online
voting in local body elections and identify options for a
trial, at or before the next local body elections in 2016,
before implementing any new system across the board.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of Cr Kate Wilson's
suggestion the council indicate it wished to participate in
any trial that was held.
The move came after voter turnout in Dunedin dropped to just
43.10% at last year's local body elections.
Cr Jinty MacTavish told the meeting she doubted online voting
would solve that problem or encourage people to make a more
However, it would ''make all the difference'' for the city's
transient student population, who could be out of the city at
the time of year elections were held.
Cr Neville Peat also supported the move, saying it would
align with the council's digital strategy, while Cr Hilary
Calvert did as well, but hoped any cost would be borne by
central government and not ratepayers.
A report by Dunedin electoral officer Pam Jordan said the
working party examining online voting would study the
opportunities and risks posed by any change, including access
The project was launched in response to calls for change from
some councils, Local Government New Zealand, the New Zealand
Society of Local Government Managers, and Parliament's
justice and electoral committee.
The working party was expected to release a report
recommending options for a ''significant trial'' by the
middle of this year, her report said.
It was not known how many councils could participate in any
trial that took place, but there could be opportunities to
trial the new approach, such as in a by-election or
referendum, before 2016, the report said.