Mitre 10 MEGA general manager Brent Stewart and financial controller Maria Majboroda voting in the local body elections 2019. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

Early turnout below last three elections

 

KAREN COLTMAN

karen.coltman@age.co.nz

 

Voter turnout across Wairarapa is currently about half what it was at this stage of the last election, and several people enrolled to vote reported they were yet to receive their voting papers last Friday.

Evidently this is a problem across New Zealand. The post has been slower than expected.

But NZ Post media adviser Greta Parker said in a statement: “The legislated window for delivering voter packs is five delivery days, September 20-25, so if a customer has not received their pack, we would encourage them to contact their electoral officer.”

The electoral officers do not though have the voting papers, because they are in the post.

People have been coming into the Carterton District Council [CDC] since Wednesday because their papers hadn’t arrived.

Council communications manager, Elisa Vorster assesses the lower than usual turnout in the first week to be for several reasons and is not fazed.

“Knowing turnout is lower than usual might remind people to vote,” she said. “John Booth was a very popular mayor and him not standing changed things a lot. The field is wide open and based on the large numbers at our candidate forums, I would say voters are undecided.”

More Carterton residents are dropping their votes into the council office this election.

The CDC and South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] are promoting Saturday, October 5 as ‘vote day’ to encourage people to get their vote in. Masterton council will have a ballot box at its office at 161 Queen St, from 9am to 2pm, Carterton at the Events Centre between 11am and 2pm and voting papers can be dropped into South Wairarapa libraries during opening hours.

NZ Post said it cannot guarantee delivery in time for voting papers posted after Tuesday, October 8 but councils will receive them by hand to their offices up until midday on Saturday, October 12.

General manager of Masterton Mitre 10 MEGA, Brent Stewart voted in store last Friday.

“I chatted with the Masterton council staff and thought it was a good idea for them to set up a voting box at the store as I really think it needs to be easier to vote,” he said.

“It is hard to find a mailbox these days. Young adults don’t post letters and wouldn’t know where to anyway these days. I reckon this negatively affects turnout.”

When some customers saw the ballot box on Friday, they went to their car and got their ready to post ballot and deposited it in the box.

The council was at the store on the weekend between 10am and midday, and would be there next weekend at the same time.

Masterton voter turnout was only 43 per cent last election, the lowest in Wairarapa.

Going by past election data, the number of votes cast during the first week of voting appears to have a direct connection to the final voter turn-out. If that proves to be an accurate indication, the vote count could be lower than it has been for the last three elections across the region.