New Plymouth's $30k youth voter turnout campaign employing turd emoji causes stink

With one day until voting closes, a $30,000 poo emoji campaign encouraging youth to vote has some divided.

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The campaign is raising a stink over its cost to ratepayers - $30,000. Source: Seven Sharp

New Plymouth District Council’s crusade, which included a giant inflatable of the emoji, encouraged its constituents to "give a s***" in the upcoming local elections.

But there is debate about its effectiveness and the value for money for ratepayers.

“I saw the posters. I thought I may as well vote,” said one local youth.

“I heard about the s*** campaign too, so I voted as well,” said another.

“It didn’t really affect me,” said an older voter. “But for young people it’s really good because I think it’s actually helping them [have] something to relate to.”

New Plymouth District Councillor Murray Chong told Seven Sharp he was “not really happy” with the campaign.

“I think it could have been done better and I think it could have been done better across the country as well,” he said.

Mr Chong said he thought ratepayers had been ripped off because he was not aware of other councillors parading the emoji due to embarrassment.

He also said the campaign failed to tell people who they were voting for.

Meanwhile, Councillor Stacey Hitchcock said it was time to try something new.

“We want a culture, actually, within our whole district that can be a little bit edgy, that tries something new,” she said.

“If you keep doing the same thing, you keep getting the same results.”

In July, youth-focused organisation RockEnrol co-founder Laura O’Connell Rapira told 1 NEWS the limited representation of young people in elected positions made it difficult for youth to see local government as a way to have their voices heard.

In the last local body elections in 2016, 18- to 29-year-olds had the lowest turnout of all age groups at 34 per cent. In the same year, less than one per cent of councillors around the country were under 30.

Ms Rapira said there was a number of barriers to voting, including decreased accessibility to post shops as more close down, a lack of non-partisan information about candidates and limited civics education in school.

"We've found that making voting a more social process can make it much more appealing for young people."

Voting will close tomorrow midday. People must now check local drop-off areas as postal voting has closed.