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Thursday, 21 March 2019 11:25 am

Voting time may be shorter, and online pushed in review

APATHY TREND: Dr Reid demonstrating the trend in falling voting turnout. IMAGE: Lauren Mann

APATHY TREND: Dr Reid demonstrating the trend in falling voting turnout.
IMAGE: Lauren Mann

IS THE three week voting period too long?

The time between getting papers and the election closing has been identified as an issue, says Local Government New Zealand’s principle policy advisor, Dr Mike Reid.

Dr Reid addressed lack of voter turnout and gave insight into reasons behind it yesterday in a public lecture entitled, 2013 Local Authority Elections: Trends, outcomes and significance.

In surveys after the 2001 and 2004 local body elections, 31% of people who did not vote said they did not know enough about the candidates.

Another 14% were not interested and another 14% were too busy.

Of those who did not vote 24% told the Local Government New Zealand survey they forgot or left it too late.

Dr Reid told the gathering yesterday, at Victoria University, that these are the people who could be targeted to boost voting turnout.

One of the reasons people are forgetting to vote could be the length of time people have their voting papers for, the longer you leave it the more likely you are to put it aside and forget about it.

The justice and electoral select committee is expected to launch a review into the local body elections within the next two months and shortening the voting period will likely be one of the issues up for discussion.

Dr Reid gsaid while he and the organisation feel there are merits to shortening the voting period including the ability for more targeted advertising, there are also some issues that would need to be addressed.

”Of course there are whole bunch of problems if you do go down that line, one being that NZ Post doesn’t operate every day so then you run the risk of votes not actually reaching the electoral office in time.

“In fact getting them out to people in time could become an issue”

In an attempt to engage the younger population, online voting is predicted to play a part in the 2016 elections with, Porirua, the Manauwatu and Auckland putting up their hands as trial cities.

“The main issue surrounding online voting is making sure it is secure.

“If people are guaranteed it is secure then people will be more inclined to use it.”

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