Student voter, your place is here

To the vast majority of students who have come here to Dunedin, not only to enjoy what the city already has to offer, but to add to it in your own individual and collectively positive ways, now is the time to stand up and be counted.

Section 72 (2) of the Electoral Act states that "... a person can reside in one place only".

So what about the 20,000 or so students who swell our ranks each year, coming as they do from the length and breadth of New Zealand?

Where exactly do they consider "home" to be? Well, the simple answer is home is where the heart is.

A person is deemed to reside at the place they choose to make their home by reason of family or personal relations, or for other domestic or personal reasons.

So, in the case of our students, they must enrol at the place they have decided to make their home, whether that be at one of our many hostels, or the broom cupboard in a Castle St squat.

If, however, they decide they are not yet ready to break free completely from the proverbial apron strings and prefer to remain within the safe confines of Mum and Dad's place, then they are entitled to remain on the electoral roll of their family home town.

But why would they want to? I would urge everyone who finds themselves in this situation to think very carefully before deciding to stick with their familial home town electorate.

The local body elections being held from September 17 to October 9 this year will provide every enrolled elector the opportunity to have their say in who by and how they wish to be governed at a local level.

Most students arrive in Dunedin with the expectation of being here for a minimum of three to five years. When they look back in later life, those years will seem just a blip on their calendar of life.

So many things will have happened to them along the way, both exciting and maybe sometimes even traumatic, that will have shaped them into the people they will become.

But from the perspective of right here and now, the next three years can and will impact significantly on how we all live our lives on a daily basis. Students included.

The local body elections give us the opportunity of voting in those people whom we wish to represent us at a local level on a day-to-day basis.

It also gives us the opportunity to clearly identify those with whom we were none too pleased, and vote them out accordingly.

Now, that's real power to the people.

If you think it's all too hard or boring and you can leave it to others to act for you, then think on.

At the last elections in 2007, one councillor lost his seat by a mere eight votes.

 

So don't tell me your vote won't make a difference.

To the vast majority of students who have come here to Dunedin, not only to enjoy what the city already has to offer, but to add to it in your own individual and collectively positive ways, now is the time to stand up and be counted.

Have your say. Be a mover and a shaker and give the rest of us a glimpse of the strong, honest, forthright citizens of the future that you are already preparing yourselves to become.

Let's take a look at just how our local bodies impact on all of us on a daily basis.

Well, for starters, they deal with your rubbish collection; parking restrictions; local liquor licensing bylaws; food safety standards; rates; water quality and supply; sewerage; drainage; roading and footpaths; recreational and sporting facilities (think Moana Pool and the Stadium); libraries; dog registration; noise control; street lighting; building control; hospital A and E; civil defence; public transport; housing; tourism; permits for events (remember the Undie 500?) ... to name but a few.

And let's not forget, the people who stand for election at local level are also going to represent us at times on issues of national importance and, in some cases, on the world stage.

Food for thought, eh? Hopefully, you will all now be inspired enough to enrol on the Dunedin electoral rolls and have your say in the forthcoming local body elections.

That way you will be able to help influence how things are done over the next three years on issues that really will impact on you personally.

And don't ever forget the efforts of those who came before us.

Democracy can be very hard to achieve, but so very easy to lose.

Help keep it alive and relevant by enrolling to vote and having your say.

Local body elections are conducted by postal vote.

Everyone who is correctly enrolled* will have their voting papers mailed to them on September 17, 2010.

* Enrolling to vote is easy. Freetext 3676 or visit our website: www.elections.org.nz and enrol online.

Dee Vickers is registrar of electors for Dunedin North and Dunedin South electorates.

 

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