If the National Government decides to axe the local elections online voting trial this year, they will have let down the councils involved and must take responsibility for dropping the ball by failing to support the trial, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.
“If, as expected, the Government announces this week that the trial won’t proceed, then this will be a real loss for the local government sector.
“The councils involved have invested a great deal of time, energy and cost into preparing for this and a decision to axe the trial will be bitterly disappointing.
“What I’m hearing from the sector is that communication with councils has been poor and the Government hasn’t been clear about the specific risks for councils to address.
“The political and financial risk is with the local councils and they strongly feel they have met the requirements set out for them. The Government should do its part and support them to proceed with this trial.
“Instead there has been a lack of communication, and a lack of will from National to get this off the ground.
“This trial has been in the works since the last local elections in 2013 and the Government’s Working Party reported that online voting was feasible back in August 2014.
“With only 40 per cent of electors bothering to mail in their votes at the last local elections, this kind of apathy from National is simply not good enough.
“While the prognosis is bleak, ultimately the decision is still up to Cabinet. I hope it shows faith in the local government sector and a desire to address the issue of poor voter turnout by supporting this trial to go ahead. Otherwise, they will have let us all down,” says Meka Whaitiri.