I have been having some discussions this last week or 2 about people who vote and people who don’t vote in local body elections.
LGNZ have decided that in 2016 they want to try and get voter turnout above 50%. They have a media release here that tells you more about it: http://www.lgnz.co.nz/home/news-and-media/2016-media-releases/a-new-campaign-to-increase-voter-turnout-at-the-2016-local-authority-elections/
There are 2 pieces of information in this article that I am particularly interested in – one is what I already assumed – older people are the biggest voting group 89% of over 70s voted in 2010. The lowest voter group was 18-29 – only 34% of them voted.
The second piece of information that I found interesting is the reasons why people don’t vote:
- The main reasons people give for not voting is not knowing enough about the candidates (31 per cent), ‘forgot or left too late’ (24 per cent), ‘not interested’ or ‘too busy’ (each 14 per cent).
These are 3 very different reasons and ones I have heard before. In fact I would agree that most people I talk to say they don’t know enough about the candidates so they don’t vote (or they just look at who looks nice and votes for them). I guess this is also why well known people tend to get elected – voters recognise their face so feel comfortable voting for them.
But how can we solve this problem?? Well part of this is really up to the candidate – campaigning is your opportunity to get yourself known to people. If you want votes then that’s what you need to do.
Postal voting also seems to be an issue – the papers arrive, they go into the deal with later pile and then the cut off date comes and goes and its loo late. This year in some parts of the country they are trialing online voting and with some luck in the 2019 election this will be available for everyone. This will certainly result in an increase in votes by younger people which would be a good thing.
‘Not interested’ or ‘too busy’ – well this comes back to my whole reason for running for council – improving community engagement so people feel that their interest is heard and they prioritise opportunities to engage with the council a bit higher up the list so they are not too busy. What would it take for you to not be too busy to vote? Or what would make you a little bit more interested so you would vote? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.