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Opening up local government election data

Opening up local government election data

Voting statistics on the 2013 local authority elections are being released as open data for the first time by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Department has been compiling and releasing information on local authority elections since 1959. The data covers the election of mayors, city and district councillors, regional councils, community boards, trusts and district health boards. The information is used to analyse voting patterns and participation at national, regional and local levels.

Releasing the statistics for the 2013 election Department of Internal Affairs Chief Executive and Secretary for Local Government Colin MacDonald says the series provides an important picture of local democracy in New Zealand. He says the statistics are used by councils and researchers to track trends and to monitor public engagement in democratic processes.

“The government wants to make public data more accessible to New Zealanders. So this year we are releasing the information as open data to help people make greater use of it.”
The open data format allows you to download the data for every district, town, and community, import it into an analytical programme of your choice to do further analysis. Councils use the voting statistics alongside economic, demographic and other social indicators to develop a better understanding of the communities they serve.

“A recent international report noted that New Zealand is one of the leaders in making government data more accessible to the public,” Mr MacDonald says.

Over the past few years a range of government agencies have been making data publicly available via thedata.govt.nz website.

Some of the interesting statistics are the participation of women in local government and voter turnout.

Results from the 2013 local authority elections show women have been increasing their presence in local politics over the last 25 years. Mr MacDonald says the proportion of women elected to local authorities has risen from one quarter to one third over this period.
Overall, voter turnout at local authority elections continues to decline and is now around 42%. Mr MacDonald says there are many causes of low voter turnout and work is underway looking at ways to reverse this trend.

The data can be found on the Department of Internal Affairs’ website.


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