Auckland Council says voter turnout this year is 'quite a worry'

The AM Show 07/10/2019

With voting numbers at worrying lows, Auckland Council is urging anyone who has lost or misplaced their voting papers to get replacements as soon as possible. 

Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske says he has heard all the excuses for people needing new voting papers.

"Snails ate their voting document, husband spilled his coffee all over his wife's voting documents or child vomited over the caller's voting document," are just some examples, he says.

And, for some reason, it seems the snail excuse is more common than you might expect. 

"Snails somehow like the orange in the returns envelope - they seem to be attracted to whatever is made up of the ink and they like to chomp through that."

Regardless of the reason, anyone who needs new voting papers should contact the council as soon as possible, says Ofsoske.

Voting for local elections in Auckland closes at midday on October 12, but the postal deadline is Tuesday.

Those who don't post off their ballots by the Tuesday deadline can drop their votes into one of the ballot boxes located in libraries, Auckland Council service centres and Britomart train station.

"As of Friday, we 've had about 162,000 votes, which is only about 15.2 percent, so that is a little down on three years ago. But we do expect that to pick up in the last week," says Ofsoske.

The council's general manager of democracy services Marguerite Delbet says the turnout this year is "quite a worry".

To try and up the voting numbers, the council is bringing a "dial-a-ballot-box" to places like hospitals and schools, where staff might not have time to vote otherwise.

She admits it's a bit of a desperate measure.

"The turn out so far is low. And we really want to encourage people to vote," says Delbet. "So dial-a-ballet-box is basically give us a call if you're an organisation like a hospital or a retirement home, or a school where you've got teachers who don't have time. We'll come to you with a ballet box to collect your vote."

If fewer people vote, it's bound to have an effect on the city, says Delbet.

"It's quite a worry because actually we need politicians who feel they have got a mandate. And if you haven't been voted in by a big number of people your mandate diminishes."

Anyone who wants to organise dial-a-ballet-box for their workplace should call the council.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter James Fyfe