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LGNZ urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of voting

LGNZ Chief Executive urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of voting in local elections

Most reasons people give for not voting in local authority elections simply don’t wash, says Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Chief Executive, Malcolm Alexander.

With voting underway for the 2013 local authority elections, research commissioned by LGNZ has shown only 14 per cent of non-voting is down to people not being interested.

Most of the non-voters admitted they didn’t vote either because they don’t know enough about the candidates, had forgotten, left it too late to post their ballot forms back in time, or they were too busy.

However, Mr Alexander says most of these reasons are easily overcome.  He urges Kiwis to wake up to the importance of participating in the selection of those who will make decisions that affect most people’s lives on a daily or hourly basis.

“You can find out which candidates are standing in your area, whether for local or regional council, or the district health board and what they stand for, by reading your voting papers, or simply by going to www.vote.co.nz and typing in your address,” said Mr Alexander.

“Once every three years you are given the democratic right to participate in selecting leaders who will make decisions on everything from roading and transport planning, to water supplies in your area – not to mention setting the rates bill which will be sent to you every quarter to pay for these vital services.

“If something is important enough then people make time for it, and voting is very important.  This is your opportunity to make a difference to your community.  I would urge people to fill in their ballot and get it into the post today.

“In an established democracy, like New Zealand, voting might seem something of a chore, but in many parts of the world the opportunity to decide who will govern your community is something that can only be dreamed about.”

Overall voter turnout has been declining in New Zealand with only about 50 per cent of eligible people casting their ballot.

Main reasons people give for not voting:
•          don’t know enough about candidates  (31 per cent);
•          forgot or left too late (24 per cent);
•          too busy (14 per cent); and
•          not interested (14 per cent).

Main reasons people give for voting:
•          it is a democratic duty (26 per cent);
•          to have a say (17 per cent); and
•          you cannot complain if you haven’t voted (seven per cent).

Voting papers need to be filled in and posted in time to reach the electoral office by 12 noon on Saturday 12 October.  Those who haven’t enrolled may still vote by casting a special vote.  Contact your local council to find out what is involved.

If you need information on who you can vote for, whether it is the local council, district health board or regional council, go to www.vote.co.nz, to find out who is standing and what they are standing for.

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell:
On First Time Voting (Centre Right)

For the next two days, I’m turning my column over to two guest columnists who are first time voters. I’ve asked them to explain why they were voting, for whom and what role they thought their parental upbringing had played in shaping their political beliefs ; and at the end, to choose a piece of music.

One guest columnist will be from the centre right, one from the centre left. Today’s column is from the centre right – by James Penn:

As someone who likes to consider himself, in admittedly vainglorious fashion, a considered and rational actor, the act of voting for the first time is a somewhat confusing one. I know that my vote has a close to zero chance of actually influencing the outcome of Parliament. The chance I will cast the marginal vote that adds to National or Act’s number of seats in Parliament is miniscule. The chance, even if I did, that doing so would affect the government makes voting on a strictly practical level even more spurious as a worthwhile exercise.

But somehow I have spent a large amount of time (perhaps detrimentally so, depending on the outcome of my upcoming exams) agonising over how to cast my first vote in a national election. More>>

 

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