Thursday, April 25, 2024

LGNZ calls for independent review of elections

Local Government NZ (LGNZ) is calling for an independent review of local government elections following a poor turnout of voters across the country.

LGNZ President, Stuart Crosby says the advocacy body wants to see far more than around four-in-ten people voting in local elections.

He said LGNZ ran a multi-faceted campaign to increase the diversity of candidates as well as voter turnout this year, but preliminary results still indicate there is a massive gap to bridge between turnout for local elections compared with central government elections.

“We always knew it was going to take more than one election cycle to turn this around,” Mr Crosby said.

“To make a real difference, however, it will require a deliberate effort by councils and communities to better engage with each other in the decisions councils are making, so voters feel more connected to local government, as well as making the process of voting easier.  

New preliminary statistics released by LGNZ show total voter turnout was 36%, while rural turnout was 45% – down by 7.5% on previous elections. Provincial voter turnout was 40%, down by 6%, with turnout in metropolitan areas was recorded as 36%, down by 1.4%.

“LGNZ wants to work with central government to review how elections can be delivered more consistently and impactfully, including communication, engagement, the practicality of postal voting, and things like access to ballot boxes in more remote parts of the country,” Mr Crosby said.

LGNZ CE Susan Freeman-Greene said a “short, sharp and independent” review should then feed into the Future for Local Government Review, as well as the review of Parliamentary Electoral Law.

“Ultimately, we want practical recommendations that are taken on board by the Government so we can make voting much more accessible in the local elections in 2025,” said Ms Freeman-Greene.

“Councils are making important decisions that will have wide-ranging impacts on future generations. Alongside the voting process, LGNZ will be leading work so councils can incorporate participatory democracy into their decision making,” she said.

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