Paula Bennett: Local body elections: Tick some boxes, your vote counts

Whoever is mayor or on council decides a whole heap of stuff for you. Photo / Michael Craig


Step up and have your say. People died so that we can live in a democracy – your vote is your way of recognising their sacrifice. Voting in the local body elections is open – your voting papers are on their way to you in the mail.

Voter turnout at the last local body elections was 42 per cent. Only 42 per cent of us filled in the form and voted for our preferred candidate. That’s appalling.

People don’t vote for many reasons and some of them are quite good ones – let’s run through a few of them.

1) I don’t know enough and don’t feel well enough informed to vote.

That’s valid. My eyes glaze over as I try and read election promises and policies and I am more engaged than most. Read a bit; in the mail, each candidate will have a blurb – it’s not ideal and you should do more research but a semi-informed vote is better than none so go ahead.

2) It’s too complicated to vote, I get pages and pages of information in my voting papers.

That’s valid. You are expected to vote on local wards and licensing trusts and goodness knows what else and that little pile of papers seems so daunting to wade your way through. So don’t. At the very least pick out your mayor and council preference and ignore all the rest. Something is better than nothing.

3) I think all the candidates are weirdos.

That’s valid. You have to be a bit bonkers to put yourself forward for public office. It is worse than Celebrity Treasure Island. As a candidate, you are putting yourself forward to be judged by people who don’t even take the time to read your policy. Pick the idiot you think will do the best job.

4) Whoever is mayor or on council doesn’t affect me.

That is not valid. They decide a whole heap of stuff from how much it costs to register your dog to infrastructure and public transport, those bike lanes and whether your rubbish is picked up for free, just to name a couple of things.

5) My vote won’t count.

That is not valid. Your vote is as worthy as anyone else’s

6) It’s just too hard and I don’t care.

Get over it. Tick some boxes and put your vote in the mailbox. It is not that hard.

Paula Bennett is a former Deputy Prime Minister and National Party politician who now works at Bayleys Real Estate as national director-customer engagement.

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