Rip, choose, vote, post

As soon as you see your voting papers in the mail – they are due between September 16 and 21 – rip them open, make your choice of candidate, vote and post.

Vote now That simple and timely action is more likely to see your vote counted on election day October 8 than anything else you could do.

Forgetting to vote or leaving it too late are top reasons for people failing to have their say in who runs the joint.

A quarter of people are in the ‘I forgot’ category, around a third feel they don’t know enough about the candidates and just over a tenth are “not interested” or “too busy”.

Voter turnout in local authority elections has generally been declining nationwide over the last quarter of a century. In 1989, 57% of eligible electors voted but by the last election in 2013 the figure was down to 41%.

In 2013 in the Waikato district the figure was lower still at 31.6%.

At a ‘meet the candidates’ event in Tamahere, chairman Dallas Fisher had a message of his own.

“Vote,” he urged the audience of around 35. “Get your friends, neighbours and children to vote, too.”

In that plea Fisher echoed efforts nationwide to get people to engage with New Zealand’s democratic processes.

“Democracy is both a privilege and a responsibility. By participating in the local government process and casting your vote you help ensure it rests on the right shoulders,” said Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule in January when he launched the umbrella organisation’s Vote16NZ campaign.

“Our goal is that, for the first time in nearly two decades, local government will be elected by a majority of New Zealanders.”

The local, ‘get out the vote’ initiative, VoteWaikato, has a similar message: “Voting is not just a right, it’s an opportunity to have your say on what’s important to you, your whanau and your community. This October 2016 is your chance to have a say on who represents your community and the Waikato district for the next three years.”

And a good start is: collect the mail (Sept 16-21), rip open those voting papers, make your candidate choice, vote, post.

That will ensure you’ll have had a say in what happens in our district over the next three years.

Thanks, Tamahere Forum!

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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