INDEPENDENT NEWS

2 Rates-Issues Groups Caused Confusion In Arc Vote

Published: Mon 11 Oct 2004 09:26 AM
Two Rates-Issues Groups Caused Confusion In Arc Vote.
Low Voter Participation Makes Sad Day For Local Democracy.
We are disappointed that we were unable to win any seats on the Auckland Regional Council – despite our candidates polling well in most seats.
There is no doubt that the presence of the Socialist Worker led RAM team caused confusion in the minds of many voters who believed that the RAM people were part of the Rates Rebellion campaign – when in fact they were not.
Nevertheless the Rates Rebellion campaign achieved much for Auckland ratepayers, and the majority of the group on the last council which supported the hated rates policy has now disappeared.
However while it now looks as though a group of left-leaning councillors will control the new ARC the ‘old guard’ of business lobbyists and supporters will still have a strong presence.
The new council will face an uncertain future as it battles with task of solving Auckland’s traffic problems – and how to fund the solutions without unfairly penalising ratepayers.
Everyone should be concerned at the low turnout in most areas – particularly in voting for the ARC where thousands of voting papers were returned blank. It seems many people voted for their local mayor and council but not for the regional council.
Affecting this issue was the huge media concentration on the Auckland mayoralty race – to the exclusion of the potentially more significant battle for control of the ARC which received hardly any media coverage at all.
There are also issues with postal voting itself – with an increasing decline in the number of eligible voters actually sending in their votes.
Too many ‘multiple’ choices from long lists of candidates was another factor in creating voter confusion. And STV may well prove to have been a disaster in terms of voter understanding.
Many changes to the electoral system are needed if true local democracy is to work.

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