For the first time in Tauranga City Council history, councillors have agreed to change the voting system which elects them into their three-year terms.
City councillors have voted to adopt STV – the single transferable vote system instead of FPP – first past the post.
It is a decision that can be challenged by the electorate if enough people are against it. The council is required to give public notice of the right to demand a poll on the electoral system to be used for its elections no later than September 19, 2017. Demanding such a poll requires five per cent of the enrolled voters at the previous elections – 4532 voters.
The difference between FFP and STV is that instead of placing a tick beside the name of a single candidate, they are ranked by number according to the voters’ choice.
There’s eight councils in New Zealand that use STV. Dunedin, like Tauranga, has a mix of ward seats and at-large seats. Wellington Regional Council has wards. Wellington City Council is also STV. Porirua has wards, Palmerston North at-large, Kapiti Coast is mixed and at-large says returning officer Warwick Lampp. He thinks the Kaipara is a mix of wards and at-large. Marlborough District Council is also STV.
Warwick says people do use the transferable vote.
“What we see is that 30 per cent rank just one candidate. Twenty to 25 per cent rank two candidates, and then the rest is split between the other numbers.
“So that shows that people do use those preferences, if they wish. You can vote for as few or as many candidates as you wish.
Under the STV system a person choosing only one candidate is effectively choosing to not allow their vote to be transferred to someone else.
“Ranking candidates is all about ranking candidates in order of preference. What it allows you to do is record a preference beside candidates that you would like to see elected. You can rank as few or as many as you wish.
“If your most preferred candidate doesn’t get in then part of your vote goes to support your second preference.”
The change was supported eight votes to three with Mayor Greg Brownless, Terry Molloy and Bill Grainger voting against it.
“Until we can adequately get it across to the community how this thing works, how you do get a better representation? I’m not supporting it,” says Terry.
Greg Brownless says STV has a ‘don’t worry, trust us’ connotation of ‘what could possibly go wrong’.
“It’s a pity there weren’t three or four options here because we could do that STV system around the table and have a little mock vote and see how it comes out.”
Bill Grainger says if things are working well, as they are, they do not need to fix them.
Kelvin Clout says he’s very much in favour of it as it means each person’s vote is less likely to be wasted.
“You can pick number one for your most preferred candidate and you can go two, three or four, just however many you want to.
“If people can’t figure out one means the top, and two second… I’m very concerned about the level of intelligence if they can’t get their head around that. I believe STV is the fairest approach.
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