Former mayor speaks on low election turnout

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Auckland is looking at another below average performance at Local body Elections this year. The major city will be lucky to reach 30%. With only two days left for ballot votes, the statistics aren't even close to that of the Central government elections. 

Former North Shore City Mayor George Wood CNZM, is all too familiar with the poor voting efforts in Auckland.

"It starts and its only a trickle of votes coming in, builds towards when we get to the close off date but still, the percentage of people who vote is a lot lower than what in national elections."

These numbers are not unusual compared to local body elections in past years. Mike Reid, Principal Advisor for Local Government NZ says:

"The turnout for local elections tend to be about 30% lower than that of Parliamentary elections and that's a pretty common feature in similar societies to NZ and that's because Central government delivers a lot more services to people than local government. People know what the central government does, but people don't know what local government does for them."

So why are voting efforts so low when it comes to local body elections? Reid says:

"One of the things they say is that it takes too much time to find out who the candidates are and who they stand for. 

"A lot of people will get their voting papers, open them up, realise its gonna take quite a while because there is a lot of candidates to consider, and they will put it on top of the fridge or something with the intention to come back to it, and forget". 

Wood says, "I think we are gonna have to go back to having a proper election where people have to go into the booths to cast their vote."

The last day for ballot votes is on Saturday at noon. 

Wood concludes, "Obviously a lot of people leave it to the last minute, a lot of people don't get around to voting at all."

George Wood CNZM currently serves as chairman of the Devonport/Takapuna Local Board