Auckland local body elections explained as officials encourage people to vote

With postal voting for local body elections having opened just over a week ago, Auckland Council says all eligible voters should now have their voting papers in the post. 

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But Electoral Officer Dale Ofsoske is urging people without their papers to cast a special vote. Special votes can be cast at five Auckland libraries, nine council service centres, or by visiting a One Stop Shop.

In a statement, Mr Ofsoske said voting packs may not have arrived in people's mailboxes if they have recently changed address or are on the confidential unpublished roll.

“We want to provide all eligible voters the opportunity to have their say,” he said.

The positions for mayor, councillors, local board members, district health board members and licensing trusts are up for contention. 

The council’s elections team has put together a tool for people to see who is standing in their community, and their policies.

Auckland Council’s General Manager of Democracy Services Marguerite Delbet said the One Stop Shop locations allow people to enrol and vote all at once.

“About 50 will pop up at markets, universities, marae and malls, throughout the election period,” Ms Delbet said.

Local Government New Zealand Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander said in a statement it was vital people had a say in selecting the over 2,000 candidates standing for positions nationwide.

“Local government shapes the place that you live, the footpaths you walk on, the roads you drive, the water in your shower, and the parks, libraries and swimming pool where you take the kids,” Mr Alexander said.

National local body voter turnout was 42 per cent in 2016, down from 41.3 per cent in 2013 and 49 per cent in 2010. 

In an Auckland Council report assessing people’s attitudes towards voting in 2016, people said they voted to have a say and to contribute to their city’s future.

Common reasons for not voting include not knowing enough about the candidates contesting in the elections or their policies, missing or forgetting the deadline, feeling like their vote would not make a difference and a lack of interest in politics or politicians. 

Most voting occurs either under the single transferable vote and the first past the post voting systems.

Voting papers must be posted by October 8 to meet the midday October 12 due date. Ballot boxes will remain open until the deadline.

The last day to enrol to vote is October 11.

As of yesterday, 4.16 per cent of voting papers (49,075) from the over 1 million enrolled voters have been returned in Auckland, compared to the 7.61 per cent at a comparative time in 2016 and 5.9 per cent in 2013.

Official results will be announced from October 17 to October 23.