Vote - Or Forever Hold your Peace

28 September 2010

The voting period for Wellington City's local body and health board elections is almost half-way through - but so far barely more than 10 percent of eligible voters have done their democratic duty and returned their voting papers.

With just 11 days left to fill in voting papers and post them back to the Council, Electoral Officer Ross Bly urges Wellingtonians to get a move on.

After yesterday's mail was processed this morning, a total of 14,395 election papers had been returned. This is 10.6 percent of the total of 135,556 papers sent out at the beginning of the voting period on
17 September.

Ross says that the voting period partly coincides with the school holidays - and that many families may be busy or have left town. "I'm hoping these people will have made arrangements to vote - don't leave it too late."

He hopes to see a reversal of the "depressing" trend, in recent years, for falling voter turnouts. In the last local body elections just 40 percent of eligible voters returned their papers in Wellington City. This compares to 42 percent in the 2004 elections, and 49 percent in 2001.

Mr Bly says the old adage applies now more than ever: "If you don't bother to exercise your right to vote, you really have no right to complain about the decisions made on your behalf by your local politicians."

He would like to remind people that one of the Capital & Coast District Health Board candidates, Mark Jacobs, has now pulled out of the race. "If you haven't yet voted - please don't include him in your ranking of preferred candidates," he says.

In a tightly-packed race, Eastern Ward voters have been best-performing - returning almost 11.5 percent of voting papers. Trailing the field are voters in the Lambton ward and, worst, in the Northern Ward.

Voting papers must be returned to the Council by 12 noon on Saturday 9 October. This means all votes have to be posted by Thursday
7 October or dropped into the ballot boxes at the Council offices in Wakefield Street or at the city's libraries by midday
Saturday 9 October.

Mr Bly says although electoral rolls have closed, people can still cast a special vote. "The last date to enrol is Friday 8 October. I would encourage anyone who has not yet registered to do so and cast a special vote. It's their opportunity to have a say on how the city is run over the next three years."

There are many ways to find out about your local candidates. Go to the Elections section of this website or to LGOL Local Elections 2010 website to check out the candidates' profiles. Votes must be in by 12 noon on Saturday 9 October.