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Officials asked to look at new options for vote

13 October 2004

Officials asked to look at new options for vote count

Local Government Minister Chris Carter has asked officials to work with local government to identify alternative ways of counting votes in the elections for seven local councils and 18 district health boards where results are delayed.

"As the public is now well aware, a company, Datamail, has been contracted to carry out the processing and counting of votes in these elections. The company's computer system has a glitch, which it is attempting to fix. At this stage, it is giving no indication of how long this will take," Mr Carter said.

"While I accept assurances from the company that they are doing everything they can, I have to take into account the possibility they may not succeed. Today I have asked officials to start assembling alternative options for counting the votes in the affected elections if the company's glitch cannot be fixed in a reasonable time frame.

"My powers to take over the counting of these votes in these elections are extremely limited because the decision-making rests with local councils who run the elections. Nevertheless, I think there is a role for central government in helping councils explore counting alternatives should they be necessary," Mr Carter said.

"It is paramount that the integrity of the elections for councils and health boards affected by this problem are maintained. We must get results that everyone can have confidence in.

"We know these votes can be counted effectively because one of the most complex elections in the country – the STV election for the Auckland District Health Board – was handled swiftly and successfully by a different company.

"The physical ballot papers for the elections affected by the computer glitch are still available and so alternative counts can be done. However, I think any alternative count must first be approved by the Auditor-General," Mr Carter said.

ENDS

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