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MMP knowledge nears all time pre-election high

MMP knowledge nears all time pre-election high

New Zealand voters head to the polls in a month's time with the highest level of MMP knowledge pre-election since the first MMP election in 1996.

“We know from previous elections that this knowledge will keep increasing and peak at the election, with the possibility of us achieving the highest ever level of knowledge on election day,” says Electoral Commission chief executive Dr Helena Catt. She was releasing results from a survey of 3000 potential voters in which 67% correctly identified the party vote as more important than the electorate vote in deciding the number of MPs each party gets.

“Equally pleasing was finding that only a fifth think that MMP’s hard to understand, a significant shift from the quarter saying the same thing last year,” says Dr Catt.

As in previous election campaign periods, the Electoral Commission would be challenging misrepresentation of MMP mechanics as well as running its own information campaign to ensure each voter is equipped to cast their vote in the way most likely to help achieve the result they want to see.

Dr Catt says the $1m multi-media advertising campaign (the same cost as in 2005 and reusing material from then) would reach all voters through advertising and their EasyVote packs. It is also sharing new online spaces focused on younger voters with the enrolment campaign, new languages and presentation formats on the Elections NZ website, and sponsoring a pan-political youth activists’ project to boost election interest and voter turnout.

“The election information campaign complements our ongoing education work and a two month road show earlier in the year taking information and motivation to people working with those least likely to enrol and vote or be confident with MMP, including different ethnic groups and younger adults.

“While more than two thirds of 18-24 year olds believed that voting made a difference, relatively high proportions felt they don’t know enough.

“Our latest survey showed significant improvements in understanding by Pacific peoples, a staggering 14% since 2007 seeing the party vote as more important and taking this group to the highest of any ethnic grouping. But this success is dulled by lower professed confidence in their understanding of MMP.

“We were also surprised that Māori were more likely than Pakeha to strongly agree that ‘voting makes a difference’ given Māori voter turnout is historically 10 to 15% lower than for non-Māori,” says Dr Catt.

The survey also repeated a question from 2007 about individual’s confidence in general elections being managed fairly and with an accurate vote count.

“It is very pleasing that confidence in election management and counting accuracy rose from 80 to 85% and only 6% are not confident in it,” says Dr Catt. “In international terms New Zealand continues to have strong and reliable electoral processes overall, and this result is consistent with other measures such as NZ’s top billing for an absence of corruption in a recent Transparency International report.”

The telephone survey of 3000 voters conducted in July and August conducted and reported by UMR Research had a margin of error of 1.8%. It was the latest in a series of pre and post election, and mid-term tracking monitors conducted for the Electoral Commission since before the first MMP election in 1996.


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