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Saturday, 29 November 2014 08:12 am

Capital’s new voters cost more than $1000 each

celiaThe 129 extra voters who participated in this year’s council elections cost Wellington more than $1000 each.
 
The city spent about $130,000 extra on advertising for an increase of just 0.2% to 64, 456 voters, compared to the turnout in 2007.

That extra spending represented $1007.75 per extra voter.

Wellington City Council electoral officer Ross Bly says the $130,000 was on top of the enforced advertising required under the election bylaws.

Advertising in local papers, on bus shelter and on radio was used to get people to register and to vote.

Wellington’s turn-out of 40.2% of eligible voters for the 0.2% increase compares with the 24% rise in the Auckland area this year.

The national average was 47.5%, up 3.5% from 2007, while the biggest turnout was on the Chatham Islands where 71.3% voted. 

Massey University Associate Professor Christine Cheyne, who specialises in local authorities, says lack of knowledge is the key to low voter turnout.

“In many areas, election campaigns are not reaching enough people, particularly young people, Maori and many other ethnic communities, and there is generally poor understanding of the significance of local authority decisions.”

Celia Wade-Brown, pictured above, will be sworn in as the new Mayor of Wellington on Tuesday this week.

She is the first Green Party mayor of Wellington and will be the first new mayor in almost 10 years, bringing to an end Kerry Prendergast’s reign.

The voting was close with only 176 votes deciding the winner.

This year’s Mayoral race had a new voting system Single Transferable Vote (STV).

The STV system was narrowly confirmed for Wellington after a referendum in 2008.

The system asks voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

The least preferred candidates are eliminated round by round and their votes are transferred to each voter’s next most favoured candidate.

A frustrated Ms Prendergast blamed STV for her defeat.

“For me, that’s not democratic,” Ms Prendergast said on the Saturday of the election, immediately after it was clear that special votes would decide her fate.

“As they drop off, if you support one of the losing candidates, you get a second vote, whereas my supporters only got one vote.”

Professor Cheyne predicts voter turnout will decline in local body elections because of confusion over the voting systems.

Ms Prendergast polled 41% of first preferences in Saturday’s vote, more than the 34.9% she won with in 2007.

Ms Wade-Brown won three of the five Wellington wards outright – Eastern (5192 to 4758), Lambton (5160 to 4468) and Southern (3734 to 2205).

Ms Prendergast won the two biggest wards, Onslow (6912 to 5874) and Northern (5776 to 3435), taking the latter by an overwhelming majority of 2341 votes.

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