21% of residents still not enrolled

Nearly 21% of Queenstown Lakes district residents are still to enrol for the upcoming local body elections, New Zealand Electoral Commission estimates show.

Of the estimated 29,150 people living in the area, 6099 have not yet enrolled, and fewer than half of 18-to-29-year-olds are enrolled.

Clutha-Southland and Invercargill registrar of electors Danette Pikia said the statistics were worrying.

''Absolutely, it's a concern to us. It is one of the lower-enrolled electorates in the country.

''This is an opportunity for you to have your say in the community, and if you're not enrolled ...

''A lot of local government policies affect those in the 18-29 age group, and if they're not voting, they won't benefit because they haven't had their say.''

She believed the issue was caused by the high number of young people moving to the area to work in the construction and tourist industries.

''A lot of them come in thinking they might only be there for a short time, and enrolment is just not one of those things that people really think about until it comes time to actually vote.

''And most people don't realise that when you move house, you actually have to let the commission know.''

Dunedin City also has a high number of unenrolled residents.

More than 10,900 residents are still to enrol, but it is only about 10% of the estimated total population of the city.

To help increase enrolments and voter numbers, the commission has been running stalls at community events and shopping centres in the Queenstown Lakes district and Dunedin City, to encourage residents to enrol.

''The difficulty we have in Queenstown is, it's hard to find events that residents go to rather than just tourists,'' Ms Pikia said.

''There are so many events for tourists.''

It had also been difficult getting people to work for the commission in the region, she said.

Overall, 79.51% of eligible voters are enrolled in Queenstown-Lakes district; 89.82% of Dunedin residents are enrolled; 92.83% are enrolled in Invercargill; 95.1% are enrolled in Central Otago; 92.88% are enrolled in the Clutha district; and 91.23% are enrolled in the Waitaki district.

-Anyone who enrolled by August 16 will have voting papers sent to their postal address. Anyone enrolled after that date will have to visit their local council to cast a special vote.

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