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Only a third of votes count at DHB elections

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
08 January 2008

Only a third of votes count at DHB elections

Only about a third of Kiwis made their voices heard in the most recent District Health Board elections. And National is calling for a public discussion on how to stop hundreds of thousands of votes from being wasted.

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says new figures make it clear that the way New Zealanders elect their District Health Boards isn't working and frustrates thousands of voters.

“Only about a third of Kiwis cast a valid vote in the District Health Board elections. People were either confused or frustrated. We need to do better.”

Figures collated by the National Party* show that nationwide 1.2m Kiwis sent back voting papers for the DHB elections. But 100,000 voting papers were declared ‘informal’ because people didn't use the STV system correctly, and another 110,000 were sent in blank.

"This combination of confusion and frustration is not good for democracy or the health system. After subtracting invalid and blank DHB ballot papers only 36% of Kiwis cast a vote that counted. This compares to 40% in 2004 and 46% in 2001**.”

Mr Ryall says the situation facing the three DHBs in greater Auckland is of particular concern.

“Across Auckland, some 30% of voters returned a valid ballot paper. When New Zealanders consistently identify healthcare as a top priority the lack of participation should be ringing alarm bells in the Minister’s office.”

“Greater Auckland had the highest STV confusion rates in the country. Returning officers told me most votes were declared ‘informal’ because voters ticked instead of numbered their choices or missed out numbers.”

Mr Ryall says the system relies on the public making informed choices about who they want representing their health needs and prioritising local health budgets.

“And if people can't make their views known then democracy - and health - is poorer for that.”

Mr Ryall says National is calling for public feedback on improving District Health Board elections.

“We want to know what people think should be done to improve voter turnout and reduce wasted votes. It may be that people want a uniform local voting system instead of ticking for councils and numbering for DHBs.”

ENDS

*Obtained through DHB websites, returning officers and the Dept of Internal Affairs
** Local Government election stats 2004

- Attached: DHB voting spreadsheet (XLS) – 1 page. [(PDF)]

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