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STV needed to lift turnout, improve mandate

14 October 2001


STV needed to lift turnout, improve mandate


The Green Party says the low turnout in yesterday’s local body poll coupled with the election of many minority mayors highlights the need to adopt the fairer, more representative STV system in 2004.

STV (Single transferable vote) will be compulsory for the next District Health Board elections and optional for council and community board elections.

“With the turnout dropping below 50% in most parts of the country voters are clearly disenchanted with the current first past the post system,” said Green MP Rod Donald.

“Voters are sick of having to vote negatively or strategically to keep out people they don’t want and would much rather vote positively for the representatives they do support. First past the post makes it difficult to do that.

“The number of minority mayors who have been elected highlights another failure of first past the post.

“For example, Wellington’s new mayor Kerry Prendergast and re-elected Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner both won with only 34% of the vote while Auckland’s new mayor John Banks and re-elected Christchurch mayor Garry Moore were both elected with 43% of the vote. As a consequence, most votes were wasted in those contests.

“The combination of low turnout and minority winners means our main centre mayors are in power with the support of less than one quarter of eligible voters. We need an electoral system which delivers majority mayors rather than putting people in a position where their mandate is open to challenge.

“Many DHB elections have resulted in winners with low levels of support and most votes being wasted because there were more candidates than voters could cope with. Fortunately STV will help fix that next time,” he said.

The procedure for changing from First Past the Post to STV starts next year with Councils having until 12 September to resolve to change their electoral system. If voters aren’t happy with the Council decision, either to stay with the status quo or opt for STV, they have until 19 December to collect signatures from 5% of electors to force a referendum. Councils themselves have until 28 February 2003 to initiate their own referendum on the voting system.

“With the local election now behind us Green Party members will be campaigning to bring in STV for the 2004 elections to achieve fairer representation, positive voting and a reduction in the level of wasted votes.”

ENDS

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