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Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis

With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.

“We have a crisis on our hands with regards to voter turnout at local elections and the Government now needs a strategic plan to address this.

“I congratulate everyone who stood at this year’s elections, and all those who exercised their democratic voice and voted; thank you for participating in this process.

“However, with an overall turnout of only 39.5 per cent continuing the long decline in voter turnout at our local elections, the time has come for some meaningful action.

“Local government is the foundation of a vibrant, functioning democracy. As well as helping shape our local communities, our 78 local authorities are responsible for nearly as much essential infrastructure by value as central government. They are powerful players in New Zealand’s economy.

“Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga must ensure Cabinet is taking this issue seriously.

“The local government sector was let down this year when the Government failed to adequately support the online voting trial. Pushing forward with highly unpopular local government reforms also does nothing to keep people engaged.

“There’s no silver bullet here, but what we are doing now clearly isn’t working and an action plan to lift voter turnout for 2019 must be put in place,” says Meka Whaitiri.