WITH voting for local body elections set to close at noon on October 12, people are being urged to cast their vote.
As of Tuesday evening, just 36% of eligible voters for Invercargill City Council had voted, and only 28% of those who could vote for Southland District Council (SDC) had done so.
That means, of the 38,465 electors, only 13,926 had returned votes in Invercargill.
Invercargill City Council deputy electoral officer Michael Morris said this was promising, as in previous elections, Invercargill averaged about 50% in returns by the close of voting.
“This means the three southern territorial authorities are streaks ahead of Auckland Council, with the super city’s returns at about 17%.”
Of the 15 people asked in Invercargill yesterday morning, four had not voted yet.
Jess Giles (24) said her vote was easy to cast, but felt people may not be voting due to inconvenience.
“What I think is that people have a very busy lifestyle and people have to go out of their way to vote.”
She suggested drop-off boxes be placed in ordinary places people visit, such as supermarkets, or to switch to an online voting system.
Businessman John Beck (48) said he believed “people don’t care”, any more.
“In the past, if we had a raise of 5c in petrol, everybody was talking and it was all over the news. But now people are not engaged any more. They are not interested in politics.
“If I don’t vote, I’m not allowed to moan. So I voted.”
Barista Melanie Robertson (30) decided not to vote this year.
She believed she didn’t know enough about the candidates and her voice would not make a difference.
“I have the feeling my vote would not change anything.”
Awhana Tane (20) agreed. She had not voted yet and had not decided if she would.
“I read the candidates’ booklet but it didn’t help me much. I have the feeling if we had stronger candidates, or someone that I believed in, it would be different.”
Her sister Annie Tane (27) voted but believed the lack of information would benefit more well-known candidates.
“I know a lot of friends that vote for a specific candidate because he was the only one that people knew the name of.”
Programme manager Chris Montgomery (42) said he had not cast his vote yet but he “definitely’ would.
“I still have time. Some people are like me and leave it to the last moment. But I really believe the candidates this year started to campaign late. Some of them I just heard about when the ballots were out – it is too late.”
Sue Faleauto (52) said her vote was also easy to cast, saying she typically voted for women or Maori candidates, or anyone she felt would represent her views well.
Sales representative Neville Knight (56) said he believed there was a “real disengagement” with the public regarding local issues, but said it was really important to vote.
Mr Morris said Invercargill should aim to have the highest returns in the country, but they should be delivered in person and not by post in the remaining days left to vote.
You can still drop your voting papers in to ballot boxes at the Invercargill Public Library, the Invercargill City Council civic administration building in Esk St, or the Bluff Service Centre until voting closes at noon on October 12. Voting papers can be dropped in to ballot boxes during business hours, with the civic administration building also set to open on October 12, from 9am to noon.
For SDC, voters can take their voting papers into any SDC office or library before election day.
On voting day, voters can only deliver their voting papers to SDC’s Invercargill, Stewart Island/Rakiura, Te Anau and Winton offices, between 9am and noon.