The low turnout

October 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports on the turnouts being as low as 33% in some major cities:

Left-wing commentator Bryce Edwards said while there generally wasn’t a link between turnout at local body and general elections, both had seen participation fall over time.

The weekend’s low turnout was probably a result of it being a “business as usual election” with “really not much on the line and very little to inspire everyone”. …

Right-wing commentator David Farrar said there was a general downward trend in voter participation worldwide.

He agreed a lack of big political issues had contributed to turnout being low.

But postal voting had also been a significant factor. He knew “half a dozen people” who had forgotten to send off their ballot papers and had to race to the council offices to cast a last-minute vote.

“They have no relationship with a post office . . . and I think each year it’s going to get much worse with postal voting because the postal system is becoming less relevant.”

The Government has agreed to trial internet voting at the next election but Mr Farrar said it was not being implemented fast enough or widely enough.

The Government has agreed to a trial for 2016, and I appreciate the efforts of Chris Tremain in getting this agreed to.

I’ve been involved with this issue since after the 2010 elections where I raised it at the select committee review of the election. I’ve met several Ministers over the issue, and various Mayors and people in Local Government NZ. A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to make an option for future local body elections (just an option, not to replace postal).  In fact all that is really needed from central Government is some regulations to be passed by Cabinet.

However the Department of Internal Affairs has been incredibly resistant to change, from what I have observed. If it were not for them, we could have been trialing e-voting in 2013.

A trial in 2016 is better than no trial at all. However the massively low turnouts should ring a warning bell that the status quo is not acceptable. Postal voting is a dying technology.

What would be good to see is a sense of priority given to a trial. It is almost inevitable that at next year’s general election some local body people will get elected to Parliament and we will probably have some local body by-elections. It would be highly desirable to trial e-voting at those by-elections so that in 2016 (while still a trial) there is wide-spread use of e-voting in a significant number of local body elections.

I see that Chris Tremain is looking at fast-tracking the trial. That will be an excellent thing if he does.

Tags: ,

53 Responses to “The low turnout”

  1. Redbaiter (10,485 comments) says:

    The low turnout is a reflection of a growing divide between the ever regulating ever stealing self appointed political class and the people.

    Short version-

    Get out of our lives.

    Vote: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Daigotsu (472 comments) says:

    I’m not against e voting but I think it’s naive to say the decline in turnout is just to do with the logistics of the situation. E voting might lead to a slight uptick in turnout but it will not address the substantive issues.

    The question my friends always ask me is, why should we care about local elections? And you know it’s hard to really tell them why. The only city in NZ where there are real, important, life affecting decisions to be made on the local scale is ChCh… and of course there it’s largely out of the local government’s hands thanks to CERA and Gerry Brownlee.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. tas (655 comments) says:

    I don’t think voting technology is the cause of low turnout. It’s uninteresting contests and uninteresting positions.

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    What Daigotsu said. There’s also not much apparent difference between a lot of candidates, though there was one or two that were clearly nuts.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. BeaB (2,165 comments) says:

    I cannot believe young people don’t know how to post a letter!
    Or that we need to have greater excitement as though it’s some kind of X Factor.
    The people who are interested enough to vote to so and some don’t because they feel they don’t know enough. And others couldn’t care less.
    I am all for letting people do as they choose. That is surely what democracy is all about.
    And, as long as they charge rates, all of us, whether we vote or not, are entitled to complain all we want.
    On the other hand, if we had a poll tax or sales tax that every earner, not just property owners, paid towards local costs, perhaps that would arouse more interest in who is doing the spending!

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. peterwn (3,340 comments) says:

    “However the Department of Internal Affairs has been incredibly resistant to change, from what I have observed. If it were not for them, we could have been trialing e-voting in 2013.”

    Then who the hell is running running the government, then. IMO this sort of thing on a wider scale could lose National sufficient votes to lose power in 2014.

    As it is, there are currently very well run campaigns being waged around, poverty, inequality, ‘living wage’ and penal reform which IMO are likely to have a serious impact on the soft centre-left National vote. I perceive Corrections as being particularly reactionary. Although they do not appear ‘political’, Some of those involved have the aim of helping a left wing government to power.

    IMO the alarm bells should be ringing loudly in the Cabinet Room and the National Caucus Room.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Daigotsu (472 comments) says:

    Peter, the government is not responsible for the entrenched luddites in the DIA bureaucracy!

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    Regardless of whether e-voting is a solution to low turnouts or not it should be allowed, because it’s catering for how a growing number of people interact online. I think it would make some difference, but on it’s own not much.

    Many people base their votes mainly or wholly on scant information and a photo in the election booklets. An online option should allow for links to much more detailed information on candidates.

    Another thing that would help is for councils to engage much more effectively with people, and vice versa. This requires a lot of effort from both councils and from people to look at how to work together better, to create a better informed democracy. If people are more connected through the term they will be more likely to vote and will be better informed about what they are voting for,

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    I think part of it is that local politicians have realized that the key to electoral victory is to distance themself from any type of party organization that voters could use as a proxy to know who to vote for. Every single bloody candidate in my area basically said “lower rates, better transport, look out for local interests in the wider council”. With voters really having no idea, many don’t vote. Those that do tend to fall back on whoever has the least insane looking face across the most billboards.

    I’m a rare motivated voter and it took me a fair while to see which candidates were ex-Alliance etc since their statements gave no clue. The lefties won anyway, in one of the most right-leaning areas, probably because no-one could tell!

    We need parties in local government, or at least a third party site that maps them on some kind of spectrum. Voters would lap it up. In contrast, no one is going to vote if it feels like you’re just playing a lottery with rubbish prizes.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Redbaiter (10,485 comments) says:

    Good point on the poll tax Beab. (in fact IMHO most sensible suggestion of them all)

    An important ingredient in any true democracy.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Ross12 (1,489 comments) says:

    There was a comment by someone I read in the weekend that said something like ” Because of the low turnout and therefore the obvious lack of interest it should be only ratepayers who get the right to vote in local body elections ”
    Maybe talk like this will get people motivated because in someways it is hard to argue against –those who are paying have the say. This is similar to what Bea is saying in many ways.
    I know it will not happen, though.
    I note the Greens are not for compulsary voting — it is not hard to work out that position.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. tas (655 comments) says:

    I’m opposed to e-voting. And I’m not an old fogey. I’m a computer science student.

    E-voting is not secure. The only reason to expect local body e-voting to be secure is because it’s so irrelevant that no one will try mess with it.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Rates are going to go up no matter which turkeys you vote for.

    Unless there is a well-publicised burning need to vote one particular candidate out, it’s no wonder people don’t bother.

    (And hell, Wellington’s mayor was “asleep at the wheel” and it was all over the front page of the paper – people voted her back anyway. )

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    tas – surely paper voting is not secure either?

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    E-voting is not secure.

    I don’t see why it can’t be at least as secure as postal voting.

    Currently voters are sent a letter saying that they need top confirm if they no longer at the address the letter was sent to. Unless people at the address take to time to return the letter they are assumed to still live there.

    Then the voting papers are sent out to the same addresses whether the people still live there or not. Most people bin them but there is nothing to stop someone sending back someone else’s voting papers.

    E-voting must be able to be more secure than that.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    I doubt e-voting will improve turnout.

    The only thing that may do is a higher standard of candidate.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    There should be a minimum voter threshold for the results to count. If it’s less than 40% then the results should be canned. Shut the council down, like the US government, and see how long it takes for the voters to care about their council.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Manolo (14,186 comments) says:

    Given the low turnout, all it takes is a disciplined, determined minority and a well-oiled political machine to win.

    I honestly though Wade Brown was toast. How wrong I was. Her performance as Mayor has been extremely poor, but despite all her fuck-ups she gets reelected thanks to her fellow deranged Greens and Labour comrades.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. berend (1,690 comments) says:

    Pete George: I don’t see why it can’t be at least as secure as postal voting.

    That you can’t see that, doesn’t mean it will not be. Why are computer literate people almost invariably against e-voting? Don’t guess. Please investigate.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    The only thing that may do is a higher standard of candidate.

    The way voting works now that would make little difference, unless the candidates were already well known – celebrities would do better than competents.

    A higher standard of mayors and councillors is the first step, alongside a higher standard of public engagement and holding to account.

    You can’t expect the elected officials and the public to snooze their way through three years and suddenly transform their interest in a one month campaign, when the media is trying to give everyone an equal opportunity thereby squashing useful debate on any possible controversial issues.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. greenjacket (487 comments) says:

    My wife and I didn’t vote.
    Paper mail for us just gets filed away and forgotten – we use internet and email for communication. E-voting would make a difference for us.
    The idiotic voting system used in Wellington didn’t help either, as it requires carefully ranking each candidate, which is absurdly time-consuming – my wife and I work, so we just don’t have the time to sit down and fill out the papers.

    And unfortunately, it may mean that the crackpot, Helene Ritchie, could be re-elected :(

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    Why are computer literate people almost invariably against e-voting?

    Like they are ‘invariably against’ online banking, online purchasing, online business transactions?

    Please substantiate.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Dazzaman (1,082 comments) says:

    That local body elections are by a postal vote has nothing to do with it…..the general elections have had ever decreasing voter turnout, no postal voting there.

    The real reason is that people don’t really give a stuff as councils & their governing processes become ever secretive & more divorced from community input than ever before. There are a lot of little fiefdoms being run in the guise of district councils these days.

    We ratepayers should also have a greater weight put on our votes than non-ratepayers…..after all the lions share of the money they play with comes from us.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Ross12 (1,489 comments) says:

    Manolo says “Given the low turnout, all it takes is a disciplined, determined minority and a well-oiled political machine to win. ”

    Totally agree Manolo. While I disagree with their policies I’ll acknowledge that the Greens appear to be very well organised when it comes to their campaigns on most issues.

    On the turnout issue –one simple thing that could be done is reduce the time from delivery of the forms until they are required to be returned ( postal or e-voting if the latter comes in) . You simply have to focus people on it and not let them put it off until later.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Dazzaman (1,082 comments) says:

    @greenjacketDead right about the ranking kerfuffle…..especially when you get 15 or more candidates for a DHB place. Just makes it a chore.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Fletch (6,532 comments) says:

    I admit – I didn’t vote. I got the papers and didn’t really know anybody.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. lazza (401 comments) says:

    What a surprise!. Kiwi’s have shown their contempt for a local government organisation that, based on its recent actions does not deserve to be treated seriously.

    Non-voting … Apathy? … Horsesh*t!

    Let me explain my reasons why, for the first time in my life and based I believe on conscious and rational decision-making I chose! not to vote in the current Auckland Council elections. Here’s the list …

    The Auckland Mayoralty voting option was such an obvious slam dunk for our useless incumbent, improperly aided by the huge AC resources that he was able to bring to bear and run out of “his” … The Mayor’s Office.
    Our local Councillor, just one of 22 mind, has minimal effect at the Council table in representing our “local” interests. In addition, she, as an incumbent has had the major advantage of media coverage and name recognition. Her sole opponent did not! impress either
    Our local board is a sinecure, a toothless unfunded talk shop that is just a waste of space and money. Why then would anyone be so deluded as to consider that a vote for”them” would have any effect?
    As part of the Giant Auckland Octopus our “local” government is anything but. Our rural area, (some 30,000 residents) may as well not exist at all in the minds/plans of the centralised bureaucracy. Our feelings are not! apathy … so lets call them what they really are … disenfranchisement, disillusionment and powerlessness … OK?
    Auckland Council behaviour, particularly its plain scary evolving debt-financial situation, its prevailing authoritative arrogance in dealing with our community, its failure to return good value for our (in some cases doubled! rates and charges) does not deserve to be dignified with the exercise of what is supposed to be a democratic decision.

    “I know I know” … if you don’t vote you don’t deserve to be represented/moan/ be heard.

    Wrong! in “our” case and here is why. Our little group, the NAG -Northern Action Group at http://www.nag.org.nz is doing something about our plight as an alternative to meekly voting/encouraging the bastards!.

    We will file a fully supported reasoned and compliant reorganisation scheme with the Local Government Commission in two weeks time … and get the hell out of Auckland … which by the way, we were never asked (in 2008) if we wished to join in the first place …

    Roll on The Next 2016 Council Elections … for a new truly “Local” Northern Rodney Unitary Council. Now then! we will vote, Hell Yeah … see the point?.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    I don’t think people really want local government. Auckland might be a different case, but in most places I have lived in, the council is viewed as a pain in the neck. I would not mind if local services were administered by central government.

    If we do have to have local government, it would be better if it was like in the UK, where the major parties had their own councils. It would give people a better idea of what they were voting for, and it would lead to less ridiculous colour combinations on the hoardings.

    I did not vote in the local elections for the simple reason that the candidates, without exception, sucked ass. They’re people who without much in the way of justification consider themselves pillars of the community, but they tend to have bovine minds. Sometimes you get the odd technocrat, who is good on process and implementation, but they don’t seem to be any good at the big picture stuff.

    I don’t want these people on a playschool committee, let alone a council.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. godruelf (54 comments) says:

    One advantage of e voting would be opportunity to validate votes under STV.a nightmare withl large numbers of candidates/vacancies.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. JC (951 comments) says:

    What just about everyone else has said. I voted.. but with some reluctance.

    My chief problems are candidates don’t specifically represent an area of the city, a photo and a paragraph are useless to determine character and political persuasion, the candidate quality seems dodgy, Whaleoil’s exposure of ratbags, the failures of local authorities such as ECan, Chch CC, the wackiness of some councils like Hamilton over flouridation, the indebtedness of some councils coupled with still more grandiose schemes, the irresponsibility of pushing a living wage and various Green dreams rejected at the national level.

    Frankly we can’t afford 12 man councils.. we need to cut down to three and appoint advisory committees. That way we can get to know the big three and force them to be accountable.

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. chris (647 comments) says:

    I think the main reason people don’t vote in local body elections is because they feel no matter who they vote in, nothing will change. All the councillors etc just want to spend more and more of our money on their pet projects (including the C+R people here in Auckland), and the huge bureaucracy that exists behind the council are the ones who really pull the strings anyway.

    That and the fact you don’t know who you’re voting for half the time or what they really stand for; the info in the voting booklets is almost next to useless. I don’t even bother voting in the DHB election – too many people to choose from and no idea what they’ll do when they get the power they so covet.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    We didn’t vote because we have only lived in the area for a year. We have no idea what the issues are, or who the candidates are.

    As someone said above, they all seem to be standing for “accountability” and “making the community better for everyone”.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Ed Snack (1,941 comments) says:

    I voted, but it was a real struggle to find out enough to identify valid people to support. For a couple it was easy to exclude, their ravings were a bit transparent, but the rest were all variations of the “representing YOU to make a difference” sloganeering.

    I think Redbaiter actually identifies the major issue which applies to national politics as well, and that is that politicians are generally seen as a bunch of thieves intent on picking your wallet regardless. That’s why there’s a swing left, some believe that it won’t be their pockets being picked. Sadly they’re probably wrong, they’ll lose out but won’t see what they’ve missed. Why there’s such a political class consensus, that’s a bigger topic than a blog comment.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. iMP (2,457 comments) says:

    Despite the very low voter turnout, here come the NZ Conservatives! Some fascinating statistics for 2014…

    http://conzervative.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/50000-voters-supported-conservative-party-in-auckland/

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. georgebolwing (1,011 comments) says:

    Low turn-out seems to be a symptom of a wider dis-engagement with the political process.

    I would posit that this is partly due to government in New Zealand becoming less relevent to the everyday lives of the population.

    30 years ago, who your local MP and local government representative were potentially had a great effect on many aspects of your life: from how long it got to get the phone put on, to where sate-owned industries and highly regulated private sector ones located their operations to what products could be imported. And before the Official Information Act and the internet, voting (and being a member of a political party) was about the only way of influencing decisions.

    Now, with privatizations and deregulation, governments do a lot less than they used to; laws like the State Sector Act and the RMA have provided greater constraints on what individual politicians can do and there are lots of ways in which you can influence the behaviour of elected officials.

    So maybe, all we are seeing is people responding rationally to very changed incentives.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Paulus (2,715 comments) says:

    I believe the most important aspect of the low vote is apathy, as voters feel that whatever they do they cannot make any difference in local affairs.

    Now and for some years now Local Government is not controlled by the Councillors who come and go every three years but by the Mammoth of administrative staff, who are used by local splinter groups, for their wishes, and spend much time hoodwinking the Elected Councillors and of course Ratepayers.

    Recently a 2 year $2 million review was undertaken in Tauranga, the results of which were the employment of 9 new senior staff. Something like over 25% of the staff of 510 are paid in excess of $100,000.

    That is to say nothing of the additional 500 odd contractors.

    And the debt is now $500 million, but don’t worry, it is fully guaranteed by the Ratepayers. There were 62,741 enrolled in the election at the weekend, and a high number of those were from rental properties, of which there are many.

    But we have a new Town Clerk (CEO), the sole employer, the previous one having got a top job with Len Brown.
    The new one, from not having his contract renewed as Town Clerk (CEO) of Wellington, I am sure is ordering a review.

    In fact his clever lady Deputy has run things for many years anyway, with her own group of cohorts, so he is on a short thrift anyway until he moves in 3 years to another sinecure, leaving the debt much higher claiming no responsibility.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I think it’s narrow minded to single out low voter turnout as, an inherently bad thing and a sign of disenchantment.

    I tend to agree with the late Samuel P Huntington that low voter turn out can be a sign of a healthy boy politic and a mostly contented population that’s socially cohesive. I also object to the idea that there’s some sort of civic virtue in voting when your vote isn’t informed. Given the time it takes to be informed on all the issues and candidates, and the other things people could do with that time, voter ignorance is often rational in this regard. Political tragics often think everyone else cares as much as they do – though I suspect most New Zealanders are rational ignorant and those who abstain as a result aren’t villains.

    Improving turnout is not nearly as important as, a) ensuring that those who choose to vote can and, b) ensuring that those who wish to stand for office can.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    I tend to agree with the late Samuel P Huntington that low voter turn out can be a sign of a healthy boy politic and a mostly contented population that’s socially cohesive

    It can be but there’s other possibilities as well.

    I think the Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin mayoral elections had something in common – underwhelming incumbents with no strong opposing candidates. Certainly many people were not contented but but saw nothing better to vote for.

    Improving turnout is not nearly as important as, a) ensuring that those who choose to vote can and, b) ensuring that those who wish to stand for office can.

    I agree, but would add to “ensuring that those who choose to vote can” – as easily as possible. Hence the need for e-voting. Close off for postal voting was widely advertised as being Wednesday. That meant voting over the last two and a half days was limited to hand delivering to a booth, e-voting would have made it much easier for tardy voters.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Listen, I don’t think that the lower turnout can be attributed in any way, shape or form to the difficulty in doing so. You can add ‘as easily as possible’ to my comments if you wish, but I don’t think it should be entirely cost-free in terms of effort. If somebody didn’t vote because they wanted to do it on their laptop while watching Masterchef instead of going to the effort of popping it in a post box on their way to work / church / the supermarket at some stage over a two week period, then I don’t think we should cry too much about that lost vote.

    When turnout is lower and voting voluntary, those who are better informed are likely to make the decisions, which are likely to be better. Sorry if that hurts your feelings.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    It’s got nothing to do with hurt feelings.

    When turnout is lower and voting voluntary, those who are better informed are likely to make the decisions, which are likely to be better.

    In part that could be correct. But there is also a very real danger, which we are seeing now – with fewer people interested in being involved in voting, submitting and otherwise engaging it makes it easier for a minority who know how to work the system to build a majority vote in council, and to portray council decisions resulting from consultation as what the majority want.

    The result in Dunedin (and Wellington by the look of things) is creeping Green. If that continues there’s a real risk the jungle will take over civilisation.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Yes – I agree that there is a structual bias towards pre-organised groups. The answer I suggest, is more organisation from opposed interest groups – the result being the formation of local political parties that stand for recognisable principles.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    30 years ago, who your local MP and local government representative were potentially had a great effect on many aspects of your life: from how long it got to get the phone put on, to where sate-owned industries and highly regulated private sector ones located their operations to what products could be imported. And before the Official Information Act and the internet, voting (and being a member of a political party) was about the only way of influencing decisions.

    Now, with privatizations and deregulation, governments do a lot less than they used to; laws like the State Sector Act and the RMA have provided greater constraints on what individual politicians can do and there are lots of ways in which you can influence the behaviour of elected officials.

    So maybe, all we are seeing is people responding rationally to very changed incentives.

    There is no incentive to vote when there is no real choice. 40 years ago, New Zealand and other countries had mass membershp of political parties. Decades of managerial politics have eroded public confidence in the political process.

    That now seems to be changing.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t ascribe the decline in mass membership of political parties to disenchantment with politics – it’s all probably just part of the bowling alone phenomenon really.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. mikenmild (12,459 comments) says:

    Is the bowling alone thing really happening, or are people just finding other ways to engage with each other?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. Pete George (23,836 comments) says:

    are people just finding other ways to engage with each other?

    That’s a significant factor, alongside the fragmentation of media.

    Twenty years ago local newspapers were ready by more people, and were better read – now fewer people buy them and more people just read what interests them, sometimes.

    TV had more local content.

    We might have had a couple of competing radio stations with far more local content.

    MSM local coverage has changed substantially and trivialised. And there are far more media options for people to use, but in traditional media and in social media.

    And social media makes it harder to reach people, especially when they aren’t interested. There’s some opportunity for widespread coverage but most social activity online is in many small bubbles. Advertising is very easy to ignore online – if it annoys you you simply switch to something else.

    Media fragmentation is one of a number of factors in increasing disinterest in local politics.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. Ross12 (1,489 comments) says:

    Interesting column by Richard Prebble on elections and voting systems

    http://breakingviewsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/richard-prebble-insight-into-politics.html#more

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I think the bowling alone phenomenon is real. I think it’s indisputable that voluntary organisations – from political parties, to churches, to service clubs to sports clubs are struggling to retain membership and participation.

    I am sceptical that people are ‘just finding other ways to engage with each other’ and, if they were, I am doubly sceptical that those means provide the same social capital and benefit to society in forging links between members of a geographical community as ordinary civil society institutions have.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. Steve (North Shore) (4,538 comments) says:

    Len Brown is going to need more goons (bodyguards) to surround him.
    Every time I see him in public I am going to nail him and record it. Pasifika Festival was the last time – you should have seen the slimy shit take off when I showed him my Watercare Services Invoice.
    Fuck him, he deserves it

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  49. mikenmild (12,459 comments) says:

    Cato
    I don’t have any specific evidence to offer, but to take churches as one example; sure, the traditional denominations are dying out but there has been a boom for the newer charismatic churches. I believe some criticism of ‘Bowling Alone’ was that it focused a bit too much on some types of institutions (bowling leagues for one) without considering evidence that other institutions were thriving.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  50. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I think the evidence is all around us. Some charismatic churches may well be burgeoning – but compare their long term retention rates to those of traditional religions. Moreover, compare their social service infrastructure to the traditional relgions that built and maintained hospitals, schools and the like.

    Beyond religion, go to a meeting of any Rotary or Lions Club; Masonic hall; local National or Labour Party branch; union; neighbourhood association; golf club or anything like that and you’ll see for yourself that we just don’t associate together anymore.

    I just don’t think that Facebook Groups are an even partway adequate replacement.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  51. mikenmild (12,459 comments) says:

    But you do get social mobilisation via newer media: I’m thinking of the student volunteer army in Christchurch and the group (whose name eludes me) that organises flash mobs and other community outings and projects here in Wellington.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  52. Nigel Kearney (1,102 comments) says:

    Democracy only requires that people be able to vote. There is no problem if they choose not to. The bigger problem with local body politics is that hardly anybody know anything about the candidates or what they have done or will do. E-voting won’t fix that.

    People who are so disengaged that they can’t be bothered mailing a letter should not vote and it’s undesirable to encourage them. They just randomize the process. The US federal elections are on Tuesday because, back in the 18th century, people had to travel long distances on horseback and stay overnight in order to reach a polling place, and they didn’t want anyone to have to travel on Sunday. I’m not suggesting we should make it that hard to vote. Maybe just having a single polling booth on top of Colonial Knob would be about right.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  53. wrightingright (145 comments) says:

    Estonia has gone open source with its e-voting:

    http://gigaom.com/2013/07/12/estonia-releases-e-voting-system-to-open-source-community/

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote