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Final vote shows record low turnout must be addressed

Final vote shows record low turnout must be addressed

With the final election results showing a record low voter turnout, the Green Party is strengthening its call for the Justice and Electoral Select Committee to focus its post-election inquiry on addressing declining voter turnout.

Following the 7421 percent voter turnout at this election, the Green Party undertook an informal online survey which asked people six simple questions. They received 1,059 responses over a three day period.

“This online survey gives us some interesting first indications of the factors influencing voter turn-out. Those who responded showed strong support for exploring online options for enrolment and voting,” said Green Party MP Gareth Hughes.

“Of the respondents who had not enrolled to vote, two-thirds indicated they would have been more likely to enrol if they could have done so online.

“We need to modernise our enrolment process and allow online enrolling because in 2011 many eligible voters, particularly young people, find it ridiculous they still need to post and fax forms just to get on the roll.

“Online voting may also increase voter turnout. Of those who hadn’t voted, 58 percent said they would have been more likely to if secure online voting was available.”

Mr Hughes said there was also support for civics education. 80 percent of survey respondents believed civics education at secondary school would make it more likely for young New Zealanders to vote.

“Our survey indicates there are options available to turn around declining voter turnout and we are calling on Parliament to broaden the scope of its regular post-election Select Committee inquiry and focus on determining the best solutions,” said Mr Hughes.

“Voting is one of the core ways for the public to participate in the civic process. The act of voting, and the feeling of participation it brings, is vital for the health of democracy in our country.”

Enrolment & Voting - 2011 NZ Election Informal Online Survey

Q1. Were you enrolled for the 2011 election?

Q2. Currently you cannot enrol online. Would you have been more likely to enrol if you could do it online?

Two thirds of those who had answered ‘no’ to the previous question (i.e. not enrolled), answered yes to this question, saying they would have been more likely to enrol to vote if they could have done so online.

Q3. Did you vote?

Q4. If no, why didn’t you vote?

Only a small sample of respondents answered this question. Of the 67 responses to this question, the answers can be grouped in to these seven categories:

. overseas voters - most of whom had tried to vote but had run in to difficulties such as locating a fax machine or issues with getting things in on time. Also concerning was confusion around the rules voter eligibility. If you have been away from New Zealand for 3 years or more, you are unable to vote, however one respondent believed this was 2 years.

. disillusioned or distrustful - many respondents expressed distaste with the political process, either through a lack of trust in politicians or disillusionment with the system of representation

. not represented - these respondents didn’t feel there were any parties or politicians that supported their ideals or represented their place in society

. apathy - some had forgotten, for others it was ‘too much of a hassle’ or ‘couldn’t be bothered’

. enrolment difficulties - the main problem here came from not getting their enrolment form in on time

. not enough information - one respondent didn’t feel sufficiently informed to cast a vote on election day

. under-18 - 12 respondents were unable to vote because they were under 18 years of age

Some of those who responded to this question had voted, but used it as an opportunity to express their concerns with the enrolment/voting process. For example, on respondent shared a concern about the new immigrants in his community who did not feel confident in voting. This person suggested that there should be more accessible information in their own language when a new New Zealander arrives in the country.

Q5. If there was a secure online voting option available, would you be more likely to vote?

Of those who answered ‘no’ to Question 3 (i.e. did not vote), 58% said they would have been more likely to vote if they could have done so online and 12% answered ‘maybe’.

Q6. Do you think having an education programme about the political process in high schools would make it more likely for young New Zealanders to vote?

ENDS

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