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Today is the last day to post your votes in the local government elections (Image: Tina Tiller)
Today is the last day to post your votes in the local government elections (Image: Tina Tiller)

The BulletinOctober 4, 2022

Meaningful change hinted at for local elections

Today is the last day to post your votes in the local government elections (Image: Tina Tiller)
Today is the last day to post your votes in the local government elections (Image: Tina Tiller)

Today is the last day to post your votes in local government elections. The garden city has pulled ahead on voter turnout as the prime minister hints at the need to look at how local elections are run.


Christchurch pulls ahead

Toby Manhire has crunched local election voter turnout numbers again, on this the last day to post your vote, and Otautahi Christchurch is the shining star. Turnout is currently ahead of 2016 and 2019 numbers. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. This is the city where 29,978 individuals and groups submitted on whether the stadium should go ahead in July and where councillors including frontrunner for mayor Phil Mauger gave the proverbial middle finger to the government on housing density rules, If nothing else, that was a flex of sorts. The idea of a supercity is being floated. The current council’s approval rating is low.

Race tighter in Auckland and turnout is lifting 

Both our largest and second largest cities have mayors departing after decent terms. Exciting mayoral races tend to lift voter turnout but Christchurch’s mayoral race hasn’t been quite as tight as others with Mauger tipped to be ahead fairly early on. In Auckland, the race is tighter. Turnout is lifting but is currently just below the same point it was in 2019. Toby Manhire sizes up the current state of play in Auckland this morning. In Wellington, Stuff’s Erin Gouley has made the assessment that it’s difficult to separate the three main contenders for mayor. The Spinoff has coverage of elections in plenty of other areas here.

Prime minister hints at need to look at how local elections are run

Concern about low turnout has reached the point where the prime minister is expressing concern. Yesterday Ardern said this is “the time for Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) to sit down and just have that conversation around the way that people vote for local elections.” Helpfully, we have a mechanism for these conversations by way of the inquiries held after each local government election. LGNZ makes submissions to those and in 2019, agreed there were elements that could be centralised. LGNZ asked that the Electoral Commission be given the mandate to work with local government “to develop a coordinated communications and engagement campaign to increase the community’s awareness of local elections” in their submission on the 2016 elections. The postmortem on the 2022 elections may be the catalyst to finally drag recommendations about the running of local government elections from the 2016 and 2019 inquiries back into the light.

We are once again asking you to get your votes in

I feel a bit like Bernie Sanders at this point, but this is the PSA section of today’s Bulletin. There will be plenty of time for the postmortem but time is ticking to get your votes in. Today really is the last day to post your vote if you want it to arrive in time. Shanti Mathias has a very good explainer on what to do, including advance scenario planning for those who don’t or can’t post their papers today or need to cast a special vote. If you’re still not sure who to vote for, check or read Stuff’s Katie Townshend’s list of qualities you should look for in a candidate.If you or anyone else needs a positive affirmation to get motivated, José Barbosa has you covered. Finally, I hope the students of Otago University forgive me for ending with this story from Critic Te Arohi as a kind of cautionary tale. The Ski Club has obtained a dominant grip on the student association executive following low turnout at their elections. Great if you’re in the Ski Club, perhaps less so if you’re not.

Keep going!