New Zealanders aren't voting in local body elections because
they're turned off by the "mishmash" of voting systems, a
local government specialist says.
And figures indicated that the number of people voting in
local elections would continue to decline, Massey University
associate professor Christine Cheyne said.
"The representativeness of our councils and the legitimacy of
decision-making are being compromised by the current mishmash
of voting systems," Dr Cheyne said.
It was almost a decade since the introduction of the Local
Electoral Act 2001 but the system was not fostering local
"It's bizarre that proportional representation is mandated
for district health board elections but is not considered
important for council elections," she said.
The STV (single transferrable voting) system had received
"poor press", which resulted in voter misunderstanding or
"Many voters want a more effective system of local elections
and much can be done to ensure that it is much easier for
people to exercise their democratic right to vote."
The only reasonable turnouts in this year's local elections
were due to "special factors" such as high-profile mayoral
campaigns, contentious issues or a traditionally high voter
turnout in smaller councils.
Most election campaigns were not reaching enough people,
particularly young people, Maori and other ethnic
Dr Cheyne is from the university's school of people,
environment and planning.