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Decide the future of your community – vote

MEDIA RELEASE

Decide the future of your community - vote
in the local elections!

For immediate release on 13 September 2004

"Make sure you vote" is the message Local Government New Zealand President Basil Morrison is sending to 2.7 million New Zealanders as voting papers for the October 9 local government and district health board elections are sent out this week.

Historically at least half of all eligible voters don't vote in local government elections. This compares to approximately 20 percent who don't vote in central government elections yet Mr Morrison states local government has more direct impact on people's lives.

"Not only does local government provide you with essential services such as water, roads and rubbish collection, it also works to make your community an enjoyable and thriving place to live. Even if you don't pay rates, you receive the benefits of local government. This is your only chance to choose the people you want to make the critical decisions about your community.

"Enrolment numbers are always high and people have a high awareness of the elections, unfortunately this doesn't translate into votes. A survey after the last election revealed many people didn't vote because they didn't know enough about the candidates.

"Now is the time to learn about the candidates. Use the media, use websites, go to public meetings - whatever you do, get informed and vote. It's one way of ensuring you have input into the future of your community, says Mr Morrison.

This year for the first time, 10 councils and all district health boards have chosen to use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system to conduct their elections. This means voters everywhere, except for Marlborough District, will be using two different systems to vote for candidates (First Past the Post and Single Transferable Vote).

"Local government officials have been working hard to ensure the instructions on the voting papers are clear and that people can easily identify which system to use for which election. The Department of Internal Affairs has just begun a communications campaign to educate people about STV. Our message to voters is a simple one: follow the instructions in your voting pack," says Mr Morrison.

Facts about the local government and district health board elections:

- The elections are carried out by postal votes. Voters have until 12pm on Saturday 9 October to return their voting papers.

- All district health boards, the Porirua Licensing Trust and the following councils will run their elections using STV:

o Dunedin City Council

o Kaipara District Council

o Kapiti Coast District Council

o Marlborough District Council

o Matamata-Piako District Council

o Papakura District Council

o Porirua City Council

o Thames-Coromandel District Council

o Wellington City Council

For more information on STV visit www.stv.govt.nz

- Overall voter turnout 2001:

o Regional councils 49%

o District health boards 50%

o City councils 45%

o City mayors 45%

o District councils 57%

o District mayors 56%

o Community boards 46%

(Source: Local Authority Election Statistics 2001, Department of Internal Affairs)

- If people are not enrolled, they can visit their local council to cast a special vote.

Ends

Local Government New Zealand is the national voice of all 86 councils of New Zealand.

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