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Carterton set to ditch online trial

PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

ELISA VORSTER
[email protected]

Carterton District Council were again voting today to decide the fate of a programme trialing online voting – just three months after voting in favour of it.

The proposed project, costing $5.9 million, will test an online voting system during the 2019 local body elections and will include several councils from around the country.

In February, Carterton district councillors voted in favour of continuing to take part in the trial alongside Masterton District Council.

At that time, the proposal included seeking half its funding from central government, with the other half being levied from all councils, irrespective of whether they were participating in the trial or not.

Now, Carterton councillors are proposing to withdraw from the trial after it was confirmed no funding was available from central government for 2018/19.

Corporate services manager Marty Sebire said it was “disappointing” it would likely withdraw from the trial but the cost involved was something the council was not prepared to pay.

“It’s disappointing we can’t provide that option for voters – different groups like to engage with councils in different ways,” he said.

“We were just along for the ride until we knew how much it was going to cost.

“We like the idea in principle but we don’t like the cost.”

He said withdrawing from the trial was not linked to the council’s Ten-Year Plan which is currently out for consultation, but a direct result of “inaction from central government”.

He was able to confirm that now central government funding was out of the picture, there would no longer be a nationwide levy for non-participating councils.

The original proposal had also included a single online voting provider jointly procured by a stand-alone agency.

This proposal has now been scrapped too, leaving councils to procure an online system themselves, adding even further costs to the trial.

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