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Voters mark New Zealand milestone

20 September 2004

Voters mark New Zealand milestone

It’s one for the record books for New Zealand – this week voters will be using STV for the first time in a nationwide election.

Making history is easy under the Single Transferable Vote system, which is being used for all District Health Board elections. Ten local councils and the Porirua Licensing Trust are also using the new system.

Voters should be receiving their voting packs in the next few days and have until noon on October 9, to get their votes in.

Department of Internal Affairs spokesperson Julia Napier says when people receive their voting packs in the post, they will find it simple to vote with the new system.

“Voting packs come with easy to follow instructions.”

Julia Napier says the most important thing for people to remember before they return their voting papers by mail is that they must rank candidates with numbers for STV elections.

“For example, for the person they most want elected, they put a number 1 next to that candidate’s name. They mark their second choice with a two, their third choice with a three, and so on.”

Julia Napier says voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they want. This means their vote can benefit more than one candidate. It is important voters rank their preferred candidates in sequence – 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. If a voter misses out the number three when ranking candidates, for example, only the first two choices will be valid.

While people can choose to rank only their number one candidate, STV is designed to benefit the voter’s selection of preferences. This way, if a voter’s number one choice doesn’t need all their votes to be elected, or is eliminated because of getting few votes, those votes are transferred to voters’ next choices.

Right now an advertising campaign is hitting television, radio stations and newspapers to make voters aware of STV. For people who would like more information, there are brochures available at branches of various community organisations and on the STV website – www.stv.govt.nz.

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While people in most parts of New Zealand will be using STV for the District Health Board elections only, some areas will be using STV for local council elections as well. Councils using STV are:

Chatham Islands Council Dunedin City Council Kaipara District Council Kapiti Coast District Council Marlborough District Council Matamata-Piako District Council Papakura District Council Porirua City Council Thames-Coromandel District Council, and Wellington City Council.

STV is already used in parts of Australia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta and by Fonterra to elect its Board of Directors and Shareholders’ Council. While it is the first time STV has been used nationally, it was used for elections to the Christchurch City Council in 1919, 1929, 1931 and 1933 and the Woolston Borough Council in 1917 and 1933.

For people wanting to know about STV, the website www.stv.govt.nz provides comprehensive information.

ENDS


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