Liz Breslin lists 10 good reasons to vote in the local
Yes, it's true the local elections lack the kapow of the
nationwide political circus, or of texting your preferences
for New Zealand's Got Talent or The Block, but your local
representatives perform some pretty fundamental duties - for
So here are 10 good reasons to make sure you get engaged,
read about the candidates and return the ticked boxes (or
numbered preferences) on your voting papers by October 12.
1. Democracy is a privilege
If you're rolling your eyes at this obvious starter, please
We are so lucky that we can be so blase as to choose whether
or not to vote.
People have died for the right. People have killed.
In more countries than not, voting is a democratic dream.
At the other extreme, Australia made it mandatory to vote in
the 1920s after particularly low electoral turnouts.
You can get fined there if you don't show at the polling
booth or send your forms back in. We don't need that here -
we just need people to vote because they can.
2. Your vote makes a difference
OK, so very few elections are won and lost on a single vote,
but lots of singles make multiples and make a difference.
Solitary becomes solidarity, if you like.
3. Waste not want not
They've printed the papers, they've mailed them to you.
You might as well fill them out because the alternative is
(Assuming that if you're too busy, or lazy to vote, you're
also too busy, or lazy to recycle paper.)
4. Voting makes you sexy
Yes, I made that up.
I can't find a single research paper that says so.
But I believe it's true.
Not necessarily the act of voting, but giving enough of a
stuff to vote.
Empowerment. That's sexy.
5. Spend time to save time
Good local governance can actually make a positive difference
to your life.
As the LGNZ website points out, ''the people who sit around
the council or community and local board tables get to make
important decisions that affect our daily life. After all,
without good transport planning would we be able to get to
work each morning?''
A few minutes reading candidate information and ticking boxes
can help shape your community the way you want it.
6. It's polite
Some of the people standing have spent sleepless nights
worrying about the issues they're driven to address.
Some have spent time and money plastering their faces over
your verges and in your mailboxes.
Some have opened their hearts and shared their principles and
aspirations with you.
All in the hope that you'll open an envelope, tick their name
in a box, seal it up and send it away.
And let them work for you.
7. It's easy
Yes, I know everything is digital whiizzydoo these days but
there's a certain charm about a pen, a piece of paper and a
If you're really adverse to the paper approach and think it
should all be done online, please try and think of it as some
kind of kitsch retro engagement experience this time around
(as hopefully there'll be other options by 2016).
You might even enjoy it.
8. Grumbling rights
If you vote, you get to legitimately gripe about the
decisions your local councillors make for you over the next
If your chosen candidates are successfully elected and go on
to disappoint you, you can say things like ''I never would
have voted for her if I'd thought she'd turn around and do
that; she'll never get my vote again''.
On the other hand, if your preferred candidates don't make
it, you can go for the tack of ''Well, he wouldn't have made
a hash of the issue like that.''
You voted, they're your representatives, so you have the
power to get peeved.
9. Beating the Americans
It would be great to wallop them decisively at something this
Voter turnout is notoriously low in the US.
In a recent round of mayoral elections, at least two cities
enticed less than 10% of their population to vote.
San Francisco came in with the highest participation level in
a 2011 survey - at 43%.
We can do better, Kiwis! Let's win this one.
10. It's better than the alternative
It's your local government.
If you don't vote, your representatives may think you don't
care what they do. And that's a very dangerous thing to let a
• Liz Breslin is a Lake Hawea Flat writer.