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The single transferable voting (STV) system of voting has been identified as the Dunedin City Council’s preference for a national voting system for local body elections.
The council has included the preference, over a first-past-the-post voting system, in a submission to the Justice Committee Inquiry into the 2019 local elections.
It has also supported online voting, if it is secure, and opposed a recommendation that Local Government hands over all responsibility for running elections to the Electoral Commission.
Cr Lee Vandervis drew three points of order from other councillors as he made his opposition to the submission known, particularly around his questioning of the capability of council staff to manage local body elections.
"I believe there always should be a governing tension between elected representatives and local bureaucracy.
"In recent elections, I’ve seen that governing tension become something of not just a tension, but a toxic relationship.
"I think the proposal that local government staff should not be involved in the voting system is a very good one."
Cr David Benson-Pope requested a point of order, saying he found the comments "highly offensive".
"I found them [council staff] thorough and impartial and I think any suggestion to the contrary made is offensive and totally unacceptable."
Mayor Aaron Hawkins upheld the point of order.
Mr Vandervis apologised and withdrew, but continued, saying "the roles played by council staff ... are all potentially in conflict if we have a situation where a candidate may be in a position to alter what happens with the bureaucracy and the direction of the city council".
The second point of order came from Cr Benson-Pope after Cr Vandervis went over his allocated time and wanted to have more time because he had been "constantly interrupted" during his speech.
The point of order was not upheld.
Cr Carmen Houlahan then called a further point of order, saying Mr Vandervis’ use of the word "boffin" when earlier describing the creators of the STV voting system, which he was also opposed to the council supporting as a national system, was "offensive".
There was no ruling as Cr Vandervis immediately apologised, although he questioned whether "boffin" was an offensive term.
Councillors expressed concern over the security of online voting and the importance of retaining the paper vote for those who did not have the ability to vote online.
They voted in 11-1 in favour of supporting the submission with amendments suggested by Mr Hawkins, that the council supported online voting systems only where the specific methods were demonstrably secure, and that it supported a recommendation for consistency between Maori and general wards, by leaving the final determination in the hands of the Local Government Commission.
Cr Vandervis, the last person to drop out of the 2019 mayoral race, voted against supporting the submission.
Crs Andrew Whiley and Mike Lord were not present for the vote.
Dunedin has used single transferable voting since 2004, after a poll showed residents wanted to scrap the first-past-the-post method.