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Informal votes increased 3 times under National

14 October 2004

Informal votes increased three times under National

The numbers of invalid or informal votes increased significantly in three local government elections held while National was in power, Local Government Minister Chris Carter revealed today.

"National is currently making a song and dance about the fact that invalid voting in this year's local elections may have increased," Mr Carter said.

"What they are not telling the public is that invalid or informal voting in local authority elections has increased at every election, bar one, since at least 1989. The biggest increase took place in the 1990s when National was in power. In that period informal votes climbed from 136,992 votes in 1989 to 212,616 votes in 1998. This was a steady increase even taking into account change in the total vote.

"Strangely, the only time in more than a decade when informal votes declined as a proportion of the total vote was in 2001 after Labour came to power," Mr Carter said.

"The reasons why invalid or informal votes are increasing are complex, and so too are the reasons for declining voting turnout. It is far to simplistic to blame everything on single transferable vote (STV), which was used for the first time this year.

"I believe that the issues around rising numbers of invalid votes and declining turnout need to be looked at rigorously in a public and open inquiry by Parliament's Justice and Electoral Select Committee. That way problems can be identified and resolved," Mr Carter said.

"National is claiming the numbers of invalid votes in the STV elections for Northland District Health Board, which amounted to some 12 per cent of the total vote, are likely to be reflected around the country. Actually, the limited number of STV results we have suggest things are not so clear cut," Mr Carter said.

"In the STV elections for the Taranaki District Health Board, informal votes came in at 5.8 per cent of the total vote, and in the STV mayoralty elections in Kaipara, Papakura and Thames Coromandel, informal votes accounted for less than 1 per cent of the vote."

ENDS

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