Support for online voting

Changes are needed in how local government elections are run in the future, including a serious look at online voting, Otago regional councillors say.

The justice and electoral select committee inquiry into the law and administrative processes around local government elections was open to submissions until December 20.

After a low turnout in October's elections, it was to focus on methods of increasing voter participation,

voting methods and the timeframe.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said at a recent finance and corporate meeting she supported online voting for local body elections.

''We've got out of the habit of posting things.''

She also believed the way information on the Otago Regional Council and its candidates always ended up at the back of electoral information booklets discouraged voting for the regional council.

In September, Local Government Minister Chris Tremain announced online voting would be trialled in the 2016 local authority elections.

Chairman Stephen Woodhead said if the younger members of communities were to be engaged, voting needed to become electronic and should be in place by the next election.

He personally believed the three-week timeframe for voting was too long.

''It needs to be short, sharp, with a large amount of publicity.''

Similar concerns had been highlighted at recent meetings with other South Island councils.

Corporate services director Wayne Scott said he would ensure the council's views were expressed in the submissions made by Local Government New Zealand and New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers to the inquiry.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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