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“A surprisingly slow start” is how Hamilton City Council Chief Executive Lance Vervoort is describing voter turnout so far in the current local government elections.  

As of today (Wednesday 29 September), just 7.1% of Hamilton Kirikiriroa’s 110,183 registered voters had returned their voting papers.  

At the same time during the 2019 local government elections, 14.8% of Hamiltonians had had their say.  

Despite the current polling numbers, Vervoort is backing Hamilton to deliver a result other centres will be envious of – as it did in 2019.  

Hamilton recorded the biggest increase in voter numbers of any metro council in 2019, with its turnout jumping to 39.4% from 33.6% in 2016.  

“We have one of the biggest pools of candidates standing for Council in the country, and no seats being contested unopposed,” said Vervoort. “This, along with our 2019 turnout, means local democracy is relatively healthy here. Hamiltonians have more choice than their counterparts in other areas.” 

The East Ward has returned the most votes with 8.0%, or 4175 of the 52,269 voters. The West Ward is sitting on 6.9%, or 3100 of the 44,667 voters.  

Just 4.2% (550 out 13,247) of those registered on the Kirikiriroa Maaori Ward Roll have had their say so far.  

Hamilton is not alone on the slow-vote trend, with low voter turnout being recorded by councils across the country (all as of 27 September):  

  • Auckland Council – 5.3%  
  • Wellington City Council – 4.9%  
  • Dunedin City Council – 6.5%  
  • Napier City Council – 7.7%  
  • Waikato District Council – 6.7%  
  • Waipa District Council - 4.5%  
  • Palmerston North District Council – 5.4% 
  • New Plymouth District Council – 3.7%  
  • Christchurch City Council – 10.9%  

The introduction of STV (Single Transferable Voting) and a stacked calendar of meet-the-candidate events could also be playing into slow voting returns.  

“If our voter turnout to date is a result of people taking their time to get acquainted with ranking candidates under STV rather than using ticks, and attending election events before making up their mind – that’s great,” said Vervoort.  

One of those events is Council’s Your Neighbourhood expo this Saturday from 1pm to 4pm in Garden Place.  

The event includes a Candidate Café area where voters can meet the people running for Council, and drop off their voting papers or cast a special vote.  

Your Neighbourhood will feature virtual reality, a dance battle, interactive games, tree-climbing demonstrations, tours of the Council chambers and much more.  

For more information, go to Council’s Facebook page

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