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How do we increase voter participation?

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, January 17th, 2017 - 218 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation - Tags: , ,

The health of our democracy continues its seemingly inexorable decline:

Voter participation on decline despite MMP

Outspoken – Victoria University academics are worried that despite the introduction of MMP 20 years ago voter participation in elections is continuing to decline.

They said the country’s democracy was not in as good a shape as it should be and that the young, the poor and Māori and Pasifika saw little point in voting.

In the 2014 election only 77 percent of eligible voters voted. For younger people the results were worse, with only 62 percent of those aged under 30 bothering to vote.

The head of the School of Māori Studies at Victoria University, Maria Bargh, said she believed economic changes that began in the 1980s have had a bigger impact on voter turnout and democracy than MMP.

Dr Bargh said those free market economic changes had turned many people off voting.

How do we turn this around?

The question has a big simple answer – “make politics engaging / relevant to people so that they want to vote” – but that answer doesn’t tell us how. So what about smaller, practical answers. How do we get more people voting?

218 comments on “How do we increase voter participation? ”

  1. bwaghorn 1

    get onto social media with messages like,

    Not voting is a vote for no change.

    The powerful don’t want the poor to vote.

    Don’t vote ? Can’t complain.

  2. Paul 2

    Offer an alternative to neo-liberalism.

    • Adrian Thornton 2.1


    • Gosman 2.2

      Is the Mana movement not an alternative to “neo-liberalism” ?

    • Siobhan 2.3

      They entirely answered the question. And its so bloody simple.

      “Dr Bargh said those free market economic changes had turned many people off voting.”

      So, if Labour aren’t in Politics to offer an alternative to the Free Market Economy, then what exactly are they trying to achieve?. a ‘nice’ free market economy??

      Are they seriously fishing around for ideas to TRICK potential voters into getting motivated for more of the same?

      What are they offering….Happy Meal vouchers??

    • aerobubble 2.4

      Yes. Trump is not openly neo-lib,has promised implicitly to overturn, aka, make the US great again. Rewarding his voters with lower healthcare costs while reworking the healthcare system. i.e destroying coverage would lose Trump re-election.

  3. Pat 3

    compulsory voting a la Australia

    • Nick 3.1

      @Pat….Agreed, make it compulsory. I wonder why Labour never did when they had their last term in power ?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Because they’re still viewing voting as a right that shouldn’t be forced upon people rather than a duty that everyone must participate in.

        A democracy only works when everyone participates. National understand this which is why they want to keep it the way it is while discouraging people from voting.

    • Rosemary McDonald 3.2

      “compulsory voting a la Australia”

      ONLY if there is a “non confidence in any of ’em” box.

      • Pat 3.2.1

        don’t imagine that would be a problem

        • DoublePlusGood

          It might be if No Confidence wins the election and someone needs to form a coalition with the empty seats…

          • tc

            Invalidate the vote then if you dont like whats offered but yes compulsory voting a la Oz.

          • The Chairman

            “It might be if No Confidence wins the election and someone needs to form a coalition with the empty seats…”

            Which is the objective. Thereby requiring another election while also encouraging representatives to rethink their policies and come up with something more palatable to voters. The No Confidence option will ensure the process continues until they do.

          • Pat

            lol…am sure Winston could do a deal with No Confidence

  4. gsays 4

    Featuring a ubi @$250 a week and a ftt to fund it.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Don’t need to worry about funding it – just so long as the banks ability to create money is taken from them. Then the UBI becomes the funding for the economy.

  5. Xanthe 5

    Put “NO CONFIDENCE in in any of these candidates” as an option on every ballot

  6. gsays 6

    Lowering voter age and more democracy in schools?

    • miravox 6.1

      As it stands at the moment, lowering the voting age is likely to decrease the voter participation rate I reckon, unless some effort is put into working out why young people don’t vote. I totally agree with more civics education in schools.

  7. Keith 7

    Make electoral rolls confidential. Privacy from anyone going to the library or P.O to check where you live is paramount. For those who fear others knowing where they live, the current system is a turn off.

    Ability to enrol purely on the party vote therefore meaning you can be enrolled months ago but don’t have to be in an electorate. The way we are now with people moving homes frequently in our investor frenzied market, makes electorate voting logistically difficult. Any vote is better than none at all.

    Educate kids at schools, year 6 and over why voting and why freedom of speech is vital and how some party’s try to discourage voting. Parents simply cannot be relied upon.

    Make it impossibly easy to vote, mobile polling stations, booths on malls, gas stations, antwhere and everywhere. But one system only and not online. Doing anything online of this nature is a repellant. And as local body voting has proven, postal voting has failed.

    • Cinny 7.1

      Strongly agree with you Keith about making electoral rolls confidential and educating the kids at school about voting, freedom of speech etc. You are correct in saying that parents simply cannot be relied upon. If the kids are taught about it at school some of the kids can then turn around and educate and motivate their parents.

      As well I feel people need a reason to vote, a policy they strongly believe in. Such as the Greens stance on cannabis, i feel this will bring out more voters this election.

      The two weeks we were able to vote last election, was extremely helpful to so very many, especially those in rural areas who only come to town once a week.

    • Heather Grimwood 7.2

      to Keith @ 7 : There is and has been for many years the ability to be put on a ‘secret’ roll, thus obviating the problem.

      • Keith 7.2.1

        I think you must have grounds to justify going on the unpublished roll, being a Judge, police, etc. I could be wrong but just be Joe Average does not meet the criteria

        • Cinny

          Yes you are correct Keith. I’m on the unpublished roll, to do so I had to provide court evidence that my life would be endangered if my details were listed on the public roll.

          It’s been a life saver for me, but first I had to have the guts to do something about it, this was hard for me, as I was worried he might kidnap me again or worse for taking action, a very scary time, end result worked out, but I was very fearful to do anything about it as I knew he had more motivation to control me than a court document and he never feared the police or jail time.

          But there will be people out there, who live in fear of a psycho ex etc, that may have not been through the courts for their own reasons, who probably should be on the unpublished roll.

          Long time ago I worked for a debt collector, long time ago, the electoral rolls were the first place we would look to find people.

        • Leftie

          You are quite correct Keith.

          “You will need to give your full name, address, date of birth, contact telephone number and evidence of your personal circumstances, such as:
          a copy of a protection order that is in force under the Domestic Violence Act 1995, or
          a copy of a restraining order that is in force under the Harassment Act 1997, or
          a statutory declaration from a member of the Police to the effect that he or she believes that your personal safety, or that of your family’s, could be prejudiced by the publication of your name and details, or
          a letter from either a Barrister or Solicitor, your employer, a Justice of the Peace, or the like, supporting your application on the grounds that your personal safety, or that of your family’s, could be prejudiced by the publication of your name and details.”

          <a href="http://www.elections.org.nz/voters/get-ready-enrol-and-vote/unpublished-roll

    • Leftie 7.3

      Bang on Keith. Cinny and I were just discussing this very topic on another thread the other day. I am sure there are a number of people that would like to vote but won’t because their details will be published on the electoral roll, and trying to get on the unpublished roll is too much of a pain for most to be bothered with. There are a number of reasons as to why people would not want their details and whereabouts publicly disclosed, and I am sure that if this was addressed and it was made easier to get on the unpublished roll, people concerned, would feel more safe in casting their votes. This really needs to be looked and addressed.

  8. BM 8

    The OECD average is around 72% if you don’t include countries with compulsory voting that number drops to 68%

    The last election the voter turnout was 77.9%, doesn’t seem too bad to me, especially with how much the demographic of NZ has changed in the last 30 years, we are now this melting pot of cultures.
    That’s where you’re probably seeing the drop-off in voter participation, many of these people may not understand how to vote or don’t feel they should vote because they haven’t been here long enough.

    As for youth not voting, who knows if turnout has always been low the last election was the first time the voting statistics have been able to be broken down by age and ethnicity

    • Siobhan 8.1

      “The main reason people gave for not voting in the 2011 General Election was they ‘didn’t get round to it, forgot or were not interested’ to vote. This accounted for 21 percent of the non-voters (and is included in the ‘disengaged’ category). Another 7.1 percent of the non-voters said they did not think their vote would have made a difference. ..
      Ten percent of non-voters were ‘overseas or away on the election day’. This was the most frequently selected reason in the ‘perceived barriers’ category.

      Over 12 percent of non-voters said they did not register for the 2011 election, which equates to just over 2 percent of the total population aged 18 years and over. About 15 percent of non-voters cited ‘other’ reasons for not voting in the 2011 election, including not being eligible because of their visa status, or for religious reasons.

      So, it’s still a ‘not engaged’ issue.
      I see that “A Statistics New Zealand survey found that 60 per cent of recent migrants did not vote in the last election”….who knows what ‘recent’ means, but the fact that 30% of recent migrants did vote seems impressive. I personally wouldn’t vote in a country I had only been living in for less than 3 years.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    1/ Make election day a fixed date (first Wednesday 1095 days after last election) paid public holiday like Xmas day.
    2/Don’t make voting compulsory, but make it you only get paid for the public holiday if you vote.
    3/Pay people to vote, with an option to donate the payment to a political party instead.
    4/encourage community activities around election day.

    • red-blooded 9.1

      Definitely DON’T make voting day a work day or holiday. Either of these would make it much harder for people to turn up to a polling station, either because of work commitments, travel or family time.

      I’m also really uneasy about the payment idea. Pay how much, to be meaningful? Using what system? Cash? This opens up temptations for voter fraud and decreases the sense of community engagement that should be central to the act of voting.

      • Rosemary McDonald 9.1.1

        “Definitely DON’T make voting day a work day or holiday,”

        You do know that some work is 24/7….you do, right?

        • red-blooded

          Yes, I do. (Or at least that some people can be called on 24/7, or have irregular shifts. Nobody actually “works” in paid employment – which is what was being discussed, 24/7.) You do know that MOST work isn’t on call for 24/7, don’t you? You do, right?

          And you do know that the people with the least flexibility about their working hours, and the least chance to “pop off and vote” during work time are the people on fixed shifts, the people who are least empowered in the workplace. You do, right? (Plus people like medical workers and teachers, who can’t simply walk out and say, “I’ll make up the time.”)

          Why would we change to a system that would make it much harder for most people to get to the polls?

          • Andre

            That’s all a very good argument for extended early voting.

            • alwyn

              “extended early voting”.
              How much more do you think is required? At the moment anyone can vote in the two weeks prior to election day. All you really have to do is say it won’t be convenient to do so on election day. If people can’t, or won’t, do it then what do you think would be required to increase the percentage voting?

              • Andre

                More about the hours early voting is available. Last time I did it, the hours during the day at the local places were quite limited. I’d rather have one local place open from say 5am to 11pm than four local places open from 10am to 4pm. Having said that, I’m not sure what all the rules are right now.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            “Definitely DON’T make voting day a work day or holiday,”

            red-blooded, that just seemed like an uninformed thing to say, when you obviously do know that every day is a work day for someone…actually a whole lot of people.

            Perhaps you could have worded it better?

            Polling generally takes place on Saturday…perhaps the hours that polling booths are open could be extended so that those working can participate without having to ask for time off?

            Or perhaps employers should be required by law to allow rostered -on workers time off (with pay?) to exercise their democratic right?

            Some flexibility maybe needed, and if voting were to be made compulsory…employers would have to be accommodating…

            • red-blooded

              I definitely think we should look at more flexibility for early voting, voting when travelling, perhaps extend the voting hours…. etc.

              BTW, I also think you could be a bit less picky/self-righteous about the “work day” wording. (This from the person who upbraided me by saying “You do know that some work is 24/7….you do, right?” – not exactly well-worded, in this context…☺)

              I don’t think I’m a fan of compulsory voting. I’d need to see some solid research about its benefits before I’d want us to go down that route.

  10. The Chairman 10

    Introduce more direct democracy.

    • Adrian Thornton 10.1

      @ The Chairman+1

    • AmaKiwi 10.2

      +1 “more direct democracy”

      Change what can be changed, accept what can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.

      Those who don’t vote are wise.

      We live in an elected dictatorship. Elections come down to, “My candidate will be a better dictator than yours.”

      No wonder people don’t vote.

  11. Puckish Rogue 11

    Definitely more vids like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRp1CK_X_Yw 🙂

    But seriously I think that (unfortunately because it’ll mean more work for teachers) more civic responsibility needs to be taught in schools especially in regards to the importance of voting and why we need to vote

    • miravox 11.1


      Also, working on what will engage young people in the political process and motivate them to vote. On that point, the language used in reports to describe young people’s reluctance to vote as ‘not bothering’ is hardly likely to engage and motivate (even if those who write the reports feel it is a fair description).

      • Puckish Rogue 11.1.1

        I’m not sure you can engage all young people, any time that its tried it just comes off as a bit naff.

        I’d prefer to aim for something like 80% participation and just let the school kids know why voting is important (not who to vote for though) and then once they reach voting age they’ll work it out for themselves

        The more you try to reach kids the more you push them away I reckon but as for adults I wouldn’t know where to start on something that hasn’t already been mentioned

        • miravox

          I hear what you’re saying PR, and in the main agree. But if voter participation is going to become consistently high among young people, seeking reasons for the non-vote, and engaging with them to understand what will make votes worth the effort is essential. But this sort of activity seems to be in the too-hard basket.

          It’s not like political engagement is outside their reckoning – but translating that into voting behaviour requires a bit of work from… ??? If only we knew!

  12. Bill 12

    A couple of observations. 77% participation seems pretty high to me, but anyway…

    If “making politics engaging/relevant” is some kind of a cop-out, then the question seems to become one of how do we ‘push through’ with increasingly unpopular and irrelevant politics.

    Which is an odd thing to be asked to contemplate

    • Adrian Thornton 12.1

      @Bill +1, yes very very strange indeed, that last sentience is almost like some deleted part from Orwell’s 1984.

    • Paul 12.2

      77% participation seems pretty high to me.

      1 million people did not vote.

      • Sam C 12.2.1

        Ahhhhh, the good old missing million.

        How many posts will there be on The Standard in 2017 regarding the missing million? I’m going to start keeping score.

      • BM 12.2.2

        So what?

        What would you prefer 100% of people voting with 20% turning up to vote because they had to and more than likely they’ll just tick the first name at the top of the list?

        Or would you prefer 80% voter turnout and those people who did vote voted because they listened to what each party had to say and voted accordingly.?

        I know which one I’d prefer.

        • Pat

          “What would you prefer 100% of people voting with 20% turning up to vote because they had to and more than likely they’ll just tick the first name at the top of the list?”

          some would, and some would make invalid vote however going by the voter surveys if people have to vote (and some still would not) then the bulk would cast a reasonably considered choice…and that would be a vast and immediate (as opposed to education/civics programme which could be additional) improvement.

          • BM

            Why do I get the feeling compulsory voting is only popular among the left because they see the non-voter block as being one they could manipulate into voting left if enough handouts were offered.

            • Pat

              who said anything about handouts?….and the Australian experience would indicate there is no advantage to the “left”

            • Paul

              Like the oft used bribe of tax cuts?

              • garibaldi

                If we don’t get a wider gap between neolib 1 and neolib2 then there will be more than a missing million.

            • KJT

              Funny that it is the right who are handing out billions in unearned Taxpayer dollars to their cronies, not the left.

              Hotel in Naui, anyone?

      • red-blooded 12.2.3

        Actually, Paul, it doesn’t take much searching to find the number of non-voters:

        There were 729 560 non-voters in the 2014 election – 23.23% of the eligible voters.

        I do think we need to explore ways to increase voter turnout but I also think we need to stop repeating mythical figures like “The Missing Million” as mantra. I say this because I’ve noticed you doing this repeatedly when it comes to Labour’s membership figures, too, Paul. I’ve tried more than once to call you up on this.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.3

      77% participation seems pretty high to me

      Considering that throughout most of our history we’ve had ~90% turnout that level is actually pretty pathetic.

    • r0b 12.4

      Bill: If “making politics engaging/relevant” is some kind of a cop-out, then the question seems to become one of how do we ‘push through’ with increasingly unpopular and irrelevant politics.

      I see what you mean – poorly phrased by me!

      What I meant was – specific suggestions about *how* to make politics engaging/relevant.

  13. Adrian Thornton 13

    I cannot believe that someone would actually write this…

    The question has a big simple answer – “make politics engaging / relevant to people so that they want to vote” – but that answer doesn’t tell us how. So what about smaller, practical answers. How do we get more people voting?

    Why the hell would anyone want to help you figure out how to get young and disenfranchised voters to vote for something they obviously don’t believe in?

    I am pretty sure that if a political party that had real policies that resonated with these voters, and they were delivered in an authentic way…they would vote alright.. just look at Corbyn in the UK, and Sanders in the US

    Surely you must understand that the message (policies) have to engage and empower the voter, not the other way around.

    Unfortunately as we all know, Labour can’t bring these sort of engaging policies into play because they are essentially free market, driven centrist party, and most young people with half a brain have already figured out this is not what they want.
    So until Labour turns Left they will never engage or mobilize this demographic.

    Turn Labour Left.

    • Paul 13.1

      Return Labour to its roots.
      A party dedicated to representing the interests of the working class

      • Glenn 13.1.1


      • Tricledrown 13.1.2

        The working class you describe are a smaller demographic .
        Have been let down by Labour Lange and Clark.
        They don’t have any motivation to vote as no party with policies that will make a real difference is big enough to make a difference.
        So stay at home.
        The poor say voting for politicians is a waste of time as nothing changes.

        • Paul

          So create policies that represent them.

          • Tricledrown

            If those Policies are put forward by Labour they need to be clear simple and have good rebuttals for MsM etc to get message to those who don’t vote.
            The only way is direct contact with those potential voters.
            On the ground workers talking on a regular basis to find where that constituency live and motivate them to vote.

      • BM 13.1.3

        Working Class
        the social group consisting of people who are employed for wages, especially in manual or industrial work.

        Who’s Labour currently representing?

      • Gosman 13.1.4

        So how come all these ‘working class’ (whatever that means in the modern context) people haven’t been rushing to sign up to the Mana movement and how come the Alliance party died a death after Jim Anderton left it? I think this is merely wishful thinking on the part of hard left activists types who think there is a significant chunk of the electorate that thinks like them.

      • Leftie 13.1.5

        Paul and Adrian, join the Labour party, work within it to help it turn left and return to it’s roots.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      I am pretty sure that if a political party that had real policies that resonated with these voters, and they were delivered in an authentic way…they would vote alright.. just look at Corbyn in the UK, and Sanders in the US

      Political parties aren’t the answer. Rule by political parties still results in rule by a small clique – the members of that party and we know that the leaders of a party will ignore what their members want as well.

      No, the best bet is full participatory democracy with compulsory voting. The people decide the policies, parliament then writes the legislation to implement those policies.

      Unfortunately as we all know, Labour can’t bring these sort of engaging policies into play because they are essentially free market, driven centrist party, and most young people with half a brain have already figured out this is not what they want.
      So until Labour turns Left they will never engage or mobilize this demographic.

      It’s not just Labour but all parties.

      • Adrian Thornton 13.2.1

        @ Draco T Bastard, I agree it is all parties, however I believe that at the heart of the NZ Labour party there is still the capacity to reform into a citizen lead Socialist Democratic party.

        It was a revolution within Labour that has brought us this centrist free market driven Labour disaster that we are all now watching, I assume it will again have to be internal revolution to cull out these destructive elements that are destroying the body of their host from within, like the cancer they are.


        • Leftie

          The current Labour party is not the same party as in the 1980’s, and under Andrew Little’s leadership, I am seeing positive changes. Join the party Adrian and work with it to help make the kind of changes you say you want.

          • The Fairy Godmother

            +1 Leftie. I joined because as a member I had a say in the candidate selection for the person who is now our MP. I have also had a say in the leadership elections. I guess being an involved member does mean some work though. Knocking on doors, going to meetings, listening to different viewpoints and expressing your own, market stalls etc etc……

            • red-blooded

              Yes, it does actually require a bit of effort and commitment. It also gives you a chance to actually help shape policy, though. People who prefer to stand on the sidelines and criticise don’t actually achieve as much as people who choose a party and get active, IMHO.

              • Leftie

                Yes, and it appears there are some on here that only want to shout from behind the fence, and do nothing else.

            • Leftie

              +1000 The Fairy Godmother

          • Draco T Bastard

            But why was it necessary for the leadership to change to bring that about?

            It was obvious years ago that the membership wanted those changes but the leadership actively prevented them.

            This is the point I made about political parties not being the answer.

  14. shorts 14

    give people hope…. the one thing no political party really offers

    we’ve soundbites, catching campaign lines, key words and rarely policy… but nothing our politicians say gives the non voter any hope that their lives will be better

    young people without good family see no hope of owning a house
    families on minimum wage go nowhere jobs see nothing but a life of struggle

    a vision, a dream… HOPE

    • Paul 14.1

      That’s the bs Obama offered.
      Offer a real practical alternative to neo-liberalism.

      Bryce Edwards wrote this.

      ‘Why New Zealanders should embrace a revolt against the Establishment.’

      The Herald changed it to ‘Will Trump effect be felt Downunder too?’ Maybe the original title was a bit too scary for their editor.

      Here it is…….

      Pledge One: Bring fresh ideas
      An injection of fresh thinking is badly needed. A popular revolt would care less about popularity and opinion polls, but more for dealing with the huge problems faced by society. Heartfelt and passionate ideas and policies would replace those created for “middle New Zealand” by focus groups and other market research. The notion a radical policy might cause offence, or be seen as “extreme” would not disqualify it. In other words, a true “contest of ideas” might be allowed, and convictions appreciated.

      Pledge Two: Shake up the cartel
      Parliament is not as diverse as people assume. Since the first MMP election 20 years ago, not a single new party has broken into Parliament. From New Zealand First to the Maori Party every group was either already in Parliament, or created by a party-hopping MP.
      MMP hasn’t delivered any outsiders. Instead, it’s a cosy cartel of politicians who create and maintain rules that keep new parties from being able to grow and make it into Parliament. MMP was supposed to shake up the party system, but has failed.
      It is notable that in 2015 polling by UMR research showed only 68 per cent of the public were “generally satisfied” with the political party options and 25 per cent “would like to see a new party or some new parties emerge before the next election”.

      Pledge Three: Reform, reform, reform
      The MMP electoral system works very well, but needs further reform. All existing parties have an interest in preserving the status quo, or only allowing minor tweaks – hence no change occurs, despite an Electoral Commission inquiry and others recommending change.
      The most obvious change needed is the abolition of the five per cent threshold that undemocratically prevents new parties challenging incumbents. This would also solve the electoral seat farce in which parties are exempted from the threshold, and various deals are done to game the system.

      Pledge Four: Chuck our disconnected deadwood
      Politics is now just a career – MPs want a job for life. And they want to be remunerated like CEOs or other elite professionals – putting them into the top one per cent of income earners.
      Most New Zealanders struggle to buy their own house, but the average MP owns two and a half houses. They all have significant superannuation funds invested. It’s no wonder MPs are disconnected from real life and real people. We now have a Parliament of the rich.
      But democracy works better when it’s a calling, not a highly paid career. Amateur politicians standing for office from all walks of life make for a very different type of Parliament and Government. An anti-establishment party could insist on MPs taking home the average salary. This would keep them in touch with constituents. And it would ensure MPs don’t cling on to the life raft of Parliament, simply because of the riches it provides.

      Pledge Five: Challenge the political elite
      Today’s ruling class is the “political class”, which refers to politicians and their advisers, public officials, and activists that are in the milieu of power.
      There’s an increasing awareness this group is killing off democracy with their inward-looking elite style of carrying out politics. They’re responsible for the highly polished, scripted, professionalisation of politics.

      An anti-establishment movement would reject this hollow way of operating. Party conferences wouldn’t be empty, stage-managed media affairs, but forums for proper participation. The image-makers and opinion pollsters would be kicked out. Grassroots activists and mass participation would replace the duplicitous advisers and spin-doctors.
      Such a movement would bypass the media and speak directly to the disaffected and the forgotten.

      Pledge Six: No more big money
      Contemporary politics is based on big money. Parties need it to pay for the professionals, the politician salaries, the marketing people and the advertising. All parties from National to the Greens are reliant on money from wealthy individuals. And obviously these interests have disproportionate influence in politics.
      More importantly, they have their hands on taxpayer funds meant for parliamentary activities, which they invariably use for electioneering instead. This means that they don’t need activists or even members any more. There are many types of taxpayer-funded resources in Parliament – for example, in the most recent financial year, the “Party Member and Support” budgets for National totalled $51m, for Labour it was $35m, and the Greens got $12m.
      An anti-establishment party or politician would campaign to reform all of this, and to put a stop to the misuse of taxpayer funds by politicians.

      Pledge Seven: Focus on the concerns of the masses
      Plenty is wrong with New Zealand – economic inequality, housing unaffordability and cultural divisions. This receives lip service from politicians, but hard issues are mostly essentially thrown into either the “too-hard basket” or the “too electorally sensitive basket”. We’re not seeing any radical answers being put forward by the current lot.
      A survey this year showed fewer than one in 10 New Zealanders had complete or lots of trust in elected officials, and trust in MPs had fallen by 54 per cent in three years. Clearly, the public need to be listened to – but contemporary politics appears incapable of this.

      Pledge Eight: Mobilise the voters
      In the past, one in four voters were members of political parties; now it’s about one in 50. New Zealand used to have comparatively high voter turnout, but this is declining dramatically – in general elections, not much more than two-thirds of those eligible are inspired enough to vote, meaning that over a million chose not to when John Key won his third term in 2014.
      Politics should be about mass participation. A radical movement would not only give more meaning to political activity, but it would embrace the input of citizens, rather than seeing them as voting fodder to keep politicians in office. What’s more, an anti-establishment movement wouldn’t just be about getting politicians into Parliament, but also about mobilising the public in other forms of protest and activism.

      Pledge Nine: Kick against the pricks
      People despise politics and politicians. Survey evidence shows the public believe political parties and Parliament are the most corrupt institutions in New Zealand.
      A new movement would relentlessly point out the political system isn’t working for most people and democracy is in decline. The goal would be to bring about major reform. Crudely put, such a movement would “kick against the pricks”, but in doing so would produce positive change.

      Pledge Ten: Take seriously the struggles of those at the bottom
      Much of modern politics ignores the struggles of those at the bottom, preferring instead to concentrate on identity politics or social liberalism. Gender politics in mainstream political parties becomes about getting women into business or ahead in the professional world – not helping working class women at the bottom. The same goes for ethnicity.
      All political parties focus more these days on the easier answers of posing as bicultural, more politically correct, or culturally sensitive. This usually has minimal impact on improving life for those in poverty and hardship, but makes the coterie of liberal politicians feel superior.

      • shorts 14.1.1

        I use hope in the sense of what the word means not a hollow word to be plastered on posters – i.e. brighter future or as you say Obama

        A party that has solid progressive policies (that benefit the people and the nation – i.e. environment), a crop of prospective MPs who are worthy of respect (yeah hard to do this one it seems) who can articulate those ideas and policies in a simple to understand manner they will elicit hope…

        the status quo is why people aren’t voting – why would ya…. its various shades of the same

      • Andre 14.1.2

        Have a good look at that Pledge 2. There seem to be plenty of you here of a similar mind telling us Labour needs to go hard left. So go and start something new. Put your efforts into building something, rather than tearing down the existing party that’s closest to your beliefs, but just not enough. After all, you only need one in eight of the missing million and you’ll be in Parliament with 6 MPs.

        • shorts

          telling people to bugger off isn’t really how one creates unity is it – isn’t labour a broad church (fuck I hate that term – what are we fairy followers?)

          • Andre

            The beauty of MMP is that you don’t need broad church unity within a single party to succeed.

            Paul and others appear so unhappy with Labour and Greens that they are willing to put considerable efforts into tearing them down. So rather than trying to destroy, how about proving their assertions about massive numbers of people just waiting for “the movement” to get reconnected by building that movement? Then they will certainly make make progress towards their goals as part of a coalition government than angrily shouting from the margins locked out of government.

            • shorts

              ah cool – sorry I wasn’t sure if your previous comment was to me or Pauls points (which Tricledrown nails with number 11)

              personally I want a stronger Labour and Greens… am quietly optimistic that the two parties are working better together than ever before and together they present a really interesting policy platform – now I just want them to articulate that in a manner that goes back to my original point, hope for those who don’t vote cause… meh

              • Andre

                shorts, I’m kind of a slow writer and I thought mine was going to be the first comment below Paul’s. I really should get in the habit of making it clearer who I’m replying to.

                Personally the structure I’d really like to see is the Greens really strongly focused on the environment and just quietly supportive of other left priorities, Labour focused on “those who work for their money, not those whose money works for them”, and a third party like Mana for the social justice warriors. Then the balance of the vote between the three parties would give a big clue to the priorities of “the left”.

                • shorts

                  I like your thinking about the three parties – I would like to see all three stand up for those who don’t/can’t/won’t/whatever work (those ion benefits) – those who give the govt their targeted 5% unemployment… we will never come close to a caring society as long as we shit on those whom for whatever reason don’t conform to the protestant work ethic (that still plagues so much thinking)

                  • garibaldi

                    Shorts, we can’t be a caring society under neoliberalism. Paul is correct….. move Labour left.

              • Leftie

                + Shorts.

            • Leftie

              +1 Andre.

      • Tricledrown 14.1.3

        Pledge 11 bore people to death.

      • Rosemary McDonald 14.1.4

        Paul, that link takes me to the Herald site only…..http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11746493 might work better.

        BE has clearly given a lot of thought to this…has really captured the essence.

        “Most New Zealanders struggle to buy their own house, but the average MP owns two and a half houses. They all have significant superannuation funds invested. It’s no wonder MPs are disconnected from real life and real people. We now have a Parliament of the rich.”

      • red-blooded 14.1.5

        You want to put up a link that works for that, Paul? This one only takes us to The Herald’s general site, with its headline stories.

  15. s y d 15

    “only 62 percent of those aged under 30 bothering to vote”

    I have a memory of the outside. In my youth we were led into this with promises of great things to come. I’ve been in this tunnel for more than 30 years now, ever onward to the promised light at the end.
    Those born in the tunnel know nothing of the outside, it’s always been this way, whatever they do nothing changes, the old people lie. There is no outside.

    • Pat 15.1

      however in those 30 years quite a number of those young people are now old….do they still lie?

      • Sabine 15.1.1

        if that is what butters their toast, yes.

        John Key comes to mind. Some consider him old, and yes he lied, a lot.

        • Pat

          do you think JK may have lied when he was young?….or did he suddenly start lying as he aged?……if you are young and don’t trust the old why would you abandon all control to them?…and what happened to all those honest young people of 30 years ago? did they suddenly become dishonest voters?…stats would suggest not…those that don’t vote young are much more likely not to vote as they age….the anti logic is astounding

          • Sabine

            John Key, yes i can see him lie from an early age onwards. I can think of it as not an easy task being the son of a women living of welfare, in the lovely farming community that would have been Christchurch in the early 50.s. And i have stated before that one reason he is so keen on undoing the social net is so that no one can say he is one of those bludgers.

            As for the old people that once were young, as I stated above, if their butter depends on being dishonest – Paula Bennett, John Key, Bill English and the lot of those that would gut our social services, that would gut our school system, that would gut our health care system, yes they lie professionally.
            Those like my parents, they more often then not got fat, don’t want time to change, don’t want to loose what they have, and go with time because of morals, religion, hard work and like most of us that are of a certain age look back at the past with rose colored glasses and over estimation of just how good we were.

            Once thing for old people to be honest about is the myth of ‘hard work’.
            if hard work would make you rich the women of the third world should be the richest people on earth, but according to this article the richest 8 who hold 50% of all wealth are white male. Go figure. But then i guess, union wages, overtime pay etc where what thye – the generation of the boomers – deserved and for the current generations union are just selfserving entieties that serve no purpose

            It would be nice for old people to admit that if they want to have all the houses for rental income to support their lifestyle, then maybe some of the young people including their children and grand children won’t get any of the pie.


            It would also be polite if more of the old people would admit that finishing Uni on no student debt was awesome. Good education, followed by a decent job and no debt slavery for thirty years and more.

            Access to health care and subsidized dental was something that was easy and relatively affordable when i was a child a long time ago during the 60/70. but i guess we can’t afford all that free stuff in the future.

            And yes, for what its worth, if we refuse to stop maliging a party for what that party under a different leadership did some 30 – 40 odd years ago, excuse me when i put the same blame then on the people that voted for that party.

            35 odd years ago i came of age, many of the people that were in power then are still in power today. any one wants to take at least some ownership of that? No, just wanting to blame those that are a young today for not participating the way you think they should? Anti logic? For what its worth, i trust my lying eyes over a politicians statement every day.

            And yes, the young generations knows – as much as we already new in the early eighties – that they are screwed, that they will not get the benefits of their grandparents, heck they are not even gonna get the benefits their parents got, and we want to blame them for not going to vote?

            What should be discussed is if young people don’t vote, across the board i might add – far left to far right, why is that?
            Maybe because the generations that currently runs the show just lies to them everytime they open their mouth.

            • Pat

              “And yes, the young generations knows – as much as we already new in the early eighties – that they are screwed, that they will not get the benefits of their grandparents, heck they are not even gonna get the benefits their parents got, and we want to blame them for not going to vote”

              oddly enough i was young in the early eighties and Im pretty sure neither my grandparents nor parents who endured depression and world wars had it easy….my generation however did.

              Nor was I fed any such BS that hard work alone will make anyone rich, indeed being rich (or famous) wasn’t the all encompassing goal it now appears to be…..I don’t “blame” anyone, of any age, for choosing not to vote but am dumbfounded that anyone would believe that somehow not voting is going to improve their chances of improving their situation as opposed to not voting….remember we are talking about a trend that has been running longer than the neolib experiment itself.

              Hell, if democracy is that little valued you may as well go and live in North Korea or the like and see how much fun it is.

  16. xanthe 16

    lets look at the three main (non)motivations of non voters

    BUT FIRST RECOGNISE that the current voting system does not differentiate between these and in fact simply discounts all of them ! so the first thing is that when the vote is counted and reported it needs to be as a PERCENTAGE OF ELLIGiBLE voters not as a percentage of valid voles cast.

    Next we need to give those who are not voting because they have NO CONFIDENCE in anyone a place on the ballot and for these to be counted and reported.

    So thats the first group NO CONFIDENCE… enable> count> report

    second group, DONT KNOW…. well we need an actual independant media with standards of journalism that are upheld!

    third group, Cant be bothered… well thats their right and maby in another election they will have different priorities

    • red-blooded 16.1

      You might be interested in the polling done by the Electoral Commission looking at reasons given by non-voters about why they didn’t vote:

      I think it’s worth noting the stated reasons for not voting:
      “Non-voters were asked the reason why they didn’t vote in the 2014 election.

      The main reason is self-stated barriers to voting, either due to a personal/commitment barriers (e.g. work or religious commitments), at 24% (31% in 2011) or practical access barriers (away from home or transport barriers) at 10% (14% in 2011). These reasons total 34% or a third of all the ‘main’ reasons for not voting. However this is a lower level than in 2011 (45%), mainly due to a reduction in the ‘other commitments’ category from 11% to 1%.
      The second biggest reason is a lack of interest in voting for 27% of non-voters, up from 21% in 2011. The biggest drivers of this result are ‘can’t be bothered with politics or politicians’ at 9%, ‘can’t be bothered voting’ at 8%, and ‘makes no difference who the government is’ at 6%.
      The third main category of reasons for non-voting is not knowing who to vote for at 11% of all main reasons given, the same as 2011. This is a function of not knowing who to vote for in a new electorate (6%), not being able to work out who to vote for (2%), and not knowing the candidates (3%).
      Only 3% gave a reason of not knowing how, when or where to vote, although this is indicatively higher than the 0% seen in 2011, and the high proportion of self-stated barriers to voting noted above does suggest there is a degree of lack of awareness of early voting.”

      The Electoral Commission does say that this is based on a relatively small sample size, and I guess it could be argued that people who were really determined to vote might find a way even if they did have other commitments getting in the way, and that people may feel better about telling a surveyor that they couldn’t vote for practical reasons rather than than they didn’t want to vote, but it’s the best info we have. I think it suggests that we need to make it easier to vote early, to find polling stations when you’re not in your own electorate on polling day (maybe an app would be useful?), to arrange for people who are unwell to vote at home or in hospital… Practical things that address the main reason given by non-voters. Yes, put efforts into reaching out to the disengaged, but don’t assume that this is the only reason why people don’t vote.

      • Kay 16.1.1

        @r-b, with regards to hospital voting they do have that covered. I had the bad luck to spend the last 2 election days as an inpatient (dreading this years election- bit of a pattern forming here!), and while fortunately I had already done early voting, the Elections people were going around the wards collecting Special votes. They’ve always done that as far as I know.

  17. Tamati Tautuhi 17

    Roger Douglas ex Labour now ACT took Labour so far right and away from its support base he virtually destroyed the party, a very similar situation has occurred in the USA where the Democrats have abandoned the average American worker and are now prostitutes to Wall St and the US Corporates this is why the poor Mid Western voting block have voted Trump in as President. He told the people what they wanted to hear.

    MSM in New Zealand tell a false narrative to the NZ people and we suck it up, why has the most popular PM ever in NZ history suddenly resigned with no questions asked?

    We are all sheep believing what MSM feeds us, NZ Media have had a love affair with John Key and the National Party for the last eight years, any journalists who offers a contrary opinion will be sacked ie John Campbell. This phenomena has occurred worldwide with Intelligence Agencies and Government controlling MSM, guiding peoples behaviour.

    • Paul 17.1

      And a very similar situation occurred in the UK where Tony Blair created ‘New Labour.’
      These are not coincidences.

      • tc 17.1.1

        +1 note the charmed life blair now leads immune from all the WOMD bs him and george w got up to.

        Mallard, nash, curran, king, adern, dyson etc are albatrosses around laboburs neck.

        Andy has his work cut out if he gets in to rid the parliament of these ineffective troughers who project a comfortable beltway image that turns voters off.

        • Paul

          Mallard, nash, curran, king, adern, dyson etc are albatrosses around laboburs neck.

          They are proof positive that Labour has not renounced neo-liberalism.

          • red-blooded

            Is that what this discussion is about? The question wasn’t “How can we get more people to vote Labour?” – it was “How can we get more people to vote?”.

            • garibaldi

              Well, can you blame them for not voting if the choice is between tweedle dee and tweedle dum?

              • Andre

                Here’s where YOU are contributing to the problem, garibaldi. There really is a difference between the parties and the future of the country depending on who is in government. Saying they are the same is just dishonest or lazy bullshit.

                • garibaldi

                  Naturally I disagree Andre. I have witnessed the same bullshit go down every election for the last 30 years ….. tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

              • red-blooded

                “tweedle dee and tweedle dum” – Have you not noticed any of the other parties, both in and out of parliament?

                Plus, has it occurred to you that some of the people who don’t vote might not choose to vote for Labour, if they did choose to vote? The point I was making was simply that the focus of this discussion was supposed to be about encouraging voting, and it was being highjacked by the usual thread of Labour-bashing commentary that tends to be a feature here on TS.

                I tend to agree with Andre, above. You choose to spend your time tearing down and making people feel more disengaged. I choose to spend my time working to promote constructive policies and contributing in a positive way to the party I see as the best choice for leading our next government.

                • garibaldi

                  Yes, I have noticed other parties. I have supported the Greens in the past 30 years, since Roger bloody Douglas destroyed Labour.

                  • red-blooded

                    Great – so encourage people to vote Green, then. Just stop parroting the idea that it’s a waste of time to vote because your only choices are “tweedle dee and tweedle dum”.

                • Leftie

                  +1000 Red-Blooded and you are completely right when you said “highjacked by the usual thread of Labour-bashing commentary that tends to be a feature here on TS”

                  Which appears to be the only purpose by some people on here.

    • Gosman 17.2

      Yes John Campbell was silenced. That is why he appears on RNZ National /sarc.

  18. Ethica 18

    Make voting and democracy something sociable and desirable so young people can do it together and in groups. Also of course lower the voting age – 12 would be good. Most primary and intermediate schools have a lot of focus on elections so capture them while they are interested and informed. Encourage critical thinking in schools and in the population generally. Find more younger candidates. Get Jacinda and Chloe (and others with celebrity power) to nurture a whole bunch of young left candidates and they could go around schools, shopping malls, the streets and clubs (and have a high visibility on social media) and make democracy something interesting and relevant

    • shorts 18.1

      voting can already be sociable… when I was young our flat would got to vote together… we’d all enjoy a sausage from the sausage sizzle (fund raiser) outside the primary school polling station… then go to the pub

      about the only thing youngsters can’t do now is the pub… cause we’re a nation of bars that aren’t cheap and they’re on minimum wage if fortunate enough to be working

    • Puckish Rogue 18.2

      12 would be good


    • red-blooded 18.3

      Young people can be engaged and interested in elections without giving 12 year olds a vote. Many school run “parallel elections” with kids finding out about policies, predicting results and casting mock votes. That doesn’t mean that 12 year olds actually have the independent judgement and maturity to vote in national elections, though.

      This Wikipedia page summarises the debates that have occurred in various countries about the voting age and gives a list of voting ages by country: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_age

      “Eighteen is the most common voting age, with a small minority of countries differing from this rule. Those with a national minimum age of 17 include East Timor, Greece, Indonesia, North Korea, South Sudan and Sudan. The minimum age is 16 in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey (three self-governing British Crown Dependencies). People aged 16–18 can vote in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro if employed. The highest minimum voting age is 21 in several nations. Some countries have variable provision for the minimum voting age, whereby a lower age is set for eligibility to vote in state, regional or municipal elections.”

  19. ian 19

    An idea to increase participation might be ‘participatory budgeting’. The idea is that the voters get a direct say on a portion of the spending. I reckon this would increase people’s feeling included in governance and would lead to greater participation at the ballot box. For example: Decide Madrid has a budget of €60 million for this.

    Also, the local board websites need to be a lot more accessible. I challenge you (if you haven’t already tried) to try and find out when your local board’s next meeting is. All of this stuff (plans, schedules, agendas, and minutes) needs to be pulled out of the PDFs deep down in the bowels of the thing and presented on websites that are actually designed to increase interest and participation. Currently, the Auckland Council website isn’t even mobile-responsive.

    • Molly 19.1

      “All of this stuff (plans, schedules, agendas, and minutes) needs to be pulled out of the PDFs deep down in the bowels of the thing and presented on websites that are actually designed to increase interest and participation. Currently, the Auckland Council website isn’t even mobile-responsive.”

      I’m cynical enough to believe this is a deliberate choice.

  20. Ad 20

    Show them how they are going to get more money.

    Works for superannuant voters every time.

    • garibaldi 20.1

      This is the trouble with voting. Our pious goals simply become “what’s in it for me” when the only goal is to get a majority.

      • Ad 20.1.1

        Works for the right every single time.

        A leftie example that’s great for young people since they earn so little is:

        Raise the threshold for paying no tax. As high as you can go. Give them free money.

        • alwyn

          Works for everybody every single time.

          Do you really think that Labour would have got more votes that National in 2005 if it hadn’t proposed the scheme of removing any interest charges on student loans?
          Without that brilliant scheme National would have come out ahead of Labour and might have got Winston’s support, at least in my opinion.

        • Bob

          “Raise the threshold for paying no tax. As high as you can go. Stop taking their money.”

  21. Sabine 21

    during the last local election cycle i heard a lot of moans from people canvassing that ‘there were a lot of ballots in the mailboxes, on the ground” and it looks like no one cares.

    This would seem odd, considering that at some time someone living at this address cared enough to register to vote.

    Now it may be people move in an out of this property and have not managed to update their info.
    Or people have lost their accommodation and are couch surfing and don’t yet have a stable address.

    will these guys that had their ballots/information send to an old not lived at address have voted last time around and will they have updated their information this time around to go vote?
    How many of our new transient population, our housing insecure, our housing deprived, our living in a car, drive, shrub near you New Zealand will be shut out of voting and do we care?

    next, Mail Boxes. In my little part of the world the only mail box left over is right at at Alfred Ngaros office, you could call it the Alfred Ngaro Te Atatu South Mailbox. And if you don’t know its there on has to drive a bit to find a Post Office or Mailbox.
    We vote by mail, and we are closing down Post Offices and cutting of public mailboxes.

    Will it affect voter turn out and do we care?

    I mean, you know if i were a conspiracy theoriser i would venture the guess that this could fall under voter disenfranchise, we don’t like how you vote – but legally we can’t stop you – so we are gonna make it real hard for you to vote. 🙂

    there is a part of the population that will not vote, but there clearly is a part of the population that at some stage did and might just find it impossible to fulfill the burocratic requirements to continue.

    • bwaghorn 21.1

      make doing a change of address at the post shop free Again and attach peoples enrolment address to it.

      • Sabine 21.1.1

        thats the point. A. Post Shops are going the way of the dodo and b. People don’t have addresses anymore.

  22. JanM 22

    I can’t believe I’ve read all these comments and not one person has forwarded the idea that if you want young people to vote you’ve got to get young people to talk to them!!! There’s no point in the middle-aged rabbiting on and on about supposed benefits – the kids are not listening, and I don’t blame them!
    The information needs to be relevant and delivered in their own language by people they can identify with.

    • Ad 22.1

      How many young people live in actual analogue space to physically talk to?
      Almost zero.

      • JanM 22.1.1

        Then don’t use ‘analogue space’. Figure out where they are

      • Sabine 22.1.2

        actually there are young people everywhere, they work in the shops, the cafes, the gas stations, in offices, some are at universities, or other training centres, some are cops, others are nurses and even the really young ones are in schools, in part time jobs, in sports clubs and the likes.

        And they are politically active. Not all granted, but we can say the same about our old people. Do we engage enough with our Old People?

    • Cinny 22.2

      I’m doing that Jan, as often as I can. And yes you really have to get on their level, work out what’s important to them, which is often not what is important to me, and if I was talking to them wearing a suit and heels they would just walk away.

      Mos def agree with you that the information needs to be relevant and delivered in their own language by people they can identify with, otherwise they just switch off.

      • JanM 22.2.1

        Thanks Cinny – you’ve got where I’m coming from 🙂 It’s not rocket science, really, is it!

  23. McFlock 23

    Well, rather than bringing the voters to participate, bring the participation to the voter: make it easier to vote.

    Firstly, make election day a stautory holiday.
    Secondly, really push early voting and voter registration.

    Additionally, double the size of parliament (and lop off a chunk of MPs’ paycheque), the bulk of the new seats being for electorate MPs. That would greatly improve the likelihood that the MP would be known by sight by most people in the electorate.

    Then get more parliamentary business done: maybe run parallel sessions of parliament, rather than one sitting for everyone. Have electronic voting for MPs, publicly recorded, and give them a week to vote on a bill. The idea is to make parliamentary business smaller and make mps closer to their constituents. Keep proportional representation, but try to bump up the direct relationship between constituents and mps.

    Oh, and have a register of lobbyists and all MP meetings and gifts online.

    • weka 23.1

      those are bloody good ideas McFlock.

    • Sabine 23.2

      How are you going to register transient people, homeless and couch surfers to vote?

      If they don’t have an address and proof of residence, i.e. electricity bill how can they vote?

      I would like this to be looked at. How many of the missing ‘million or three quaters of a million’ can’t/don’t vote because they have no address.

      • weka 23.2.1

        What do people who are boarding or flatting do if they ‘re not the account holder for electricity etc?

        Are you sure that that is needed anyway?


        • Sabine

          My point being is that if you change your address a lot as you wonder from boarding house to flatting situation, to living in a care etc etc is that you change address often and that is the first thing – in my assumption – that is not done when living precariously.
          thus the properties were you can find up to twenty letters from the electoral office come election time. Most likley a flat and non of the people that moved away bothered to upkeep their information.

          Our voting information / packs come by mail. You need a verifiable address for that.

          I would like for a ‘community address’ to be created. that is a physical address and free for people to use for official use.

      • McFlock 23.2.2

        ISTR about 1% of the population are homeless.

        However, most of those would probably have an electorate they mostly live in.

        A bit like with the census, officials could check the local doss places. And have a generic address for each electorate, maybe the nearest post office?

        • Sabine

          i like the idea with the generic address but it might be a better approach to use Dairys then Post Offices.
          It seems that they can’t close Post Offices fast enough. Serioulsy try to find a ‘Post Office’. Not a Postal service Provider in a dairy or a supermarket. A proper Post Office.

      • JanM 23.2.3

        I live in my campervan and I’ve managed to register – there are more and more of us and they are working out ways to accommodate us – I had to go into an electoral office to sort it out though

    • GregJ 23.3

      There are 71 electorates at present to cover 3.5 million eligible voters (Note – eligible not enrolled). That’s 1 Electorate MP per 49,300 eligible voters. So a straight doubling of Electorate MPs (142) would take that down to roughly 25,000 (presumably Maori electorates would increase to 14?). I think we have 50(?) list MPs due to an overhang.

      Now you are proposing doubling all of Parliament so that 240 MPs but making the bulk of them Electorate MPs. If you increased Electorate MPs to 180 (75%) you would get Electorates of 19,500.

      Perhaps you could combine that with making all Electorate votes be Preferential Votes so an MP must garner 50% support?

      You would be moving MMP more towards the 25% list-75% electorate end of the spectrum which may make ensuring proportionality more difficult.

      [Edited to add that the numbers are rounded up slightly for ease of reading]

      • McFlock 23.3.1

        Yeah the proportionality thing seems to get out of hand really quickly: if a party got 33% of the vote but 100/140 electorates, they’d get no list seats but the parliament would be up to 300 mps. But then Alwyn’s already demonstrated that my electorate math is unreliable.

        I did briefly consider bicameral, with one house being electorate mps, but that just puts an FPP brake on the mmp house. Although as you say something like STV for the electorate mps might be interesting. Especially if the blanks are counted as preferring “no confidence” 🙂

        • GregJ

          Yes -I’ve tried to imagine a Constitutional arrangement that acts as a brake but not throw the political process into gridlock. I like a lot of the aspects of the Irish Constitution and their system although I’m not really keen on an appointed/indirect election of the Upper House.

          Although perhaps if I was being radical you could have the Maori Electorates MPs (in an expanded Parliament) comprise an Upper House with the similar powers to the Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann).

  24. The Chairman 24

    Cater for the popular vote, thus all electoral votes not only determine the electoral winner but then go on to be counted along with the party vote, going towards their particular party. Making every vote really count.

    • alwyn 24.1

      “but then go on to be counted along with the party vote”.
      That proposal goes against the principles of the MMP system we have.
      The reason we have the two votes is to allow for independent candidates, who don’t belong to a party, to stand for an electorate seat and equally to have parties who do not choose to have any candidates who stand for the electoral seats.
      Your proposal would either disenfranchise these people or would halve their parliamentary importance.

      • The Chairman 24.1.1

        No it wouldn’t as the vote still goes towards determining the electoral winner.
        Therefore, independent candidates, who don’t belong to a party, can stand for an electorate seat and potentially win as they can today.

        As for Parties that don’t stand candidates, it would be akin to two party votes, unless they split their vote – ie vote for a local candidate.

        It will rectify the current situation and improve MMP, by ensuring every vote counts.

        • McFlock

          So what you’re suggesting is that the electorate votes get counted towards the electorate MP, then get put in the pile for total votes?

          I.e. if I split my vote between greens for the list but I like the local nat to represent my electorate (maybe he’s my brother or something), the electorate vote would mean I also put a vote towards the nats’ proportional representation?

          I don’t really like the sound of that. It partially removes the point of splitting votes in the first place: vote for the mp you want for your region, but seperately for the party you want in government.

          • The Chairman

            It could be made optional to avert that becoming a concern.

            As it stands, you can’t give both ones vote to a party not standing a candidate if one desires.

            Moreover, electoral votes that currently exceed the margin required to win are not acknowledged thereafter. As in the electoral win counts as one electorate, regardless how large the winning margin.

            This would rectify all that.

            • McFlock

              Well, yeah, it’s only for who you want to represent your electorate interests. It has nothing to do with which party you want to govern, really.

              Why should a party get more seats in parliament if they win an electorate by a landslide but only get 1% of the party vote?

              • The Chairman

                “It’s only for who you want to represent your electorate interests “

                No, that’s incorrect. Currently it also counts for the party as an electoral win if the candidate wins.

                “Why should a party get more seats in parliament if they win an electorate by a landslide but only get 1% of the party vote?”

                Because it means more people individually voted for them and as it counts every vote, it would reflect that.

                Surely you don’t oppose a system that counts every vote?

                • McFlock

                  “Currently it also counts for the party as an electoral win if the candidate wins.”

                  Sorry, what? They get the electorate seat, but after the electorates are allocated then the list seats are assigned according to the proportion of list votes each party gets.

                  Every vote is counted already. One counts for who you want to represent your region, the other vote counts towards the proportion of parliament your party controls.

                  • The Chairman

                    “They get the electorate seat”

                    That’s correct. Which currently counts as an electoral win for the party, therefore goes beyond merely deciding the electoral outcome, thus can impact on the overall election outcome.

                    “Every vote is counted already”

                    That’s not totally correct. See my comments above.

                    • McFlock

                      I’m not sure what you mean by “electoral win” vs “electoral outcome” vs “overall election outcome”.

                      After a general election there are 60 or 70 electorates. Their mps are given seats. Then parties are given list seats to match their overall proportion of the list vote.

                      There might be an overhang if a party with no significant electoral support wins an electorate, or if a party with 1/4 of the list vote gets all the electorates (I guess that might result in a 240 seat parliament if we guess 60 electorates).

                      But all your votes count, just for different things.

                    • alwyn

                      Mostly to McFlock..
                      There are 69 electorates, at present.
                      They each elect an MP.
                      These are decided by your electorate vote, the first of the two you get.

                      The Party vote, your second vote, determines the total number of MPs a party is entitled to. If you won a quarter of the party vote you are entitled to a quarter of the total MPs, of which there are currently 120, so you would get a total of 30. If you had won 20 electorates they would give you 10 more from the list. If you hadn’t won any electorates they would give you 30 from your list.
                      There is no such thing as a “list” vote.

                      The only case of an overhang is a party that won more electorate seats than their party vote would entitle them too. The only current case is United First, ie Peter Dunne.

                      In the case you suggest, of a party with 1/4 of the party (NOT list) vote winning all of the electorates you would actually end up with a Parliament of 159 seats. This is because their 1/4 of the party vote would entitle them to 30 seats but they had won 69 electorates and therefore had 39 overhang seats. There would not be a Parliament of 240.

                      The party vote is all that is required to get a “fair” Parliament. The only oddity is that you require at least 5% of the party vote unless you win an electorate. This could be reduced if you wanted too but it would likely lead to more tiny parties. The Netherlands currently has 11 parties I believe.

                      However there is no need at all to double count votes as The Chairman is proposing. It would tend to favour National and Labour and disadvantage all the others who don’t necessarily have candidates in all the electorates. Maori and Mana would be particularly affected.

                    • McFlock

                      fair call on the math, Alwyn.

                      Yeah, I think TC is well on the wrong page regarding the gist of MMP.

                  • The Chairman

                    An electoral win for the party means the party wins an electoral seat.

                    Deciding the electoral outcome refers to deciding who wins the electoral seat.

                    And the overall election outcome referees to the winners and the make up of the new parliament.

                    “But all your votes count, just for different things.”

                    As I’ve already highlighted above, the current system leaves voters shortchange so to speak. What I’m suggesting would resolve these issues.

                    • alwyn

                      I think you are misunderstanding how the electoral system works.
                      The Party vote determines how many seats a party is entitled to in Parliament.
                      If you get 25% of the Party vote you get 25% of the MPs. It doesn’t affect things if you win, or don’t win electorate seats. They simply give you the electorate seats you win and make the total up to the correct figure by adding people off the list.
                      Thus you would be entitled to 30 MPs for your 25%. This could be 30 electorate MPs or 30 off the list. It is the same number.
                      If you win an Electorate you simply get one less person from the list.
                      The exception is if you win more electorates, and hence have more MPs than you Party vote entitles you to. As I note above the only current case is Peter Dunne.
                      There is no shortchanging at all, unless you count Colin Craig and his lot as being shortchanged because they didn’t get the 5% minimum.

      • The Chairman 24.1.2

        @ alwyn

        It’s not double counting votes. It’s extending one of our votes. Effectively providing us with a third.

        It’s doesn’t disadvantage smaller parties. It merely ensures all votes count. As explained above, it actually benefits parties that don’t stand candidates in every region by allowing their supporters another party vote.

        Vote for a candidate plus have two party votes or don’t vote for a candidate and have three party votes.

        • alwyn

          As I’ve tried to point out.
          Your PARTY vote is the one that determines the number of members the party gets. You don’t get more members because you win some electorates. You get less List MPs.
          25% of the party vote gives you 25% of the MPs. It doesn’t matter where they come from. One more electorate equals one less List member.
          That is why Labour has LESS List MPs than the Green party even though they got about 2.5 times as many votes as did the Greens. Labour has 5 List MPs whereas the Greens have 14. That is because the Labour Party has a lot of electorate MPs. The total number of MPs reflects the party vote they got, as it should. The Green Party aren’t shortchanged at all.

          • The Chairman

            “There is no shortchanging at all”

            Of course there is.

            If you wish to vote for a party that isn’t standing a candidate you can only give the party one of your votes, therefore you’ve been shortchanged. You’re stuck with a vote that you can’t give to the party of your choice.

            An electoral win gives the party that won an MP. However, regardless of the margin it’s only counted as one electoral win. Therefore, the excess votes mean little. However, if they were also counted (as with all other electoral votes) along with the party vote they would count. Which is the point you seem to be missing.

            “The Party vote determines how many seats a party is entitled to in Parliament.”

            Which is why I’m advocating for the electoral vote to also be counted along with them (the party vote). Ensuring every vote counts.

            • McFlock

              If you wish to vote for a party that isn’t standing a candidate you can only give the party one of your votes, therefore you’ve been shortchanged. You’re stuck with a vote that you can’t give to the party of your choice.

              You don’t vote for a party in your electorate. You vote for the candidates themselves.

              And if you really wanted a candidate from your party to run regardless of their abilities, run yourself if nobody else will.

              • The Chairman

                “You don’t vote for a party in your electorate. You vote for the candidates themselves.”

                Most candidates represent a party. Therefore, indirectly you are. If your vote helps a party candidate to win you’ve helped win the party an electoral seat.

                “And if you really wanted a candidate from your party to run regardless of their abilities, run yourself if nobody else will.”

                Not every voter is willing or suitable to stand. Therefore, your solution is far from practical.

                • McFlock

                  If your vote helps a party candidate to win you’ve helped win the party an electoral seat.

                  At the expense of a list seat. The party doesn’t gain an extra seat, even though you get the candidate you want.

                  Let’s flip it around – if you vote for an independent candidate, under your system you’re missing out on a party vote that determines the proportion your favored party gets in parliament.

            • alwyn

              I am going to give up.
              You don’t seem to understand MMP at all.
              For the last time. With the minor exception of the 5% threshold, and the odd overhang seat.
              It is ONLY your Party vote that determines how many MPs a party has in Parliament.
              The Party vote is the one that counts.

              If you are, for example a Green supporter you may as well only use you party vote. The Green Party will end up with exactly as many seats as their party vote entitles them to. If they get 10% they will get 12 seats. It wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, make any difference whether they have any electorate candidates at all.
              Every vote for the Party does count in exactly the same way. “That is all you know on earth and all you need to know”.
              Can anyone else get through to the man?

              • The Chairman

                “It is ONLY your Party vote that determines how many MPs a party has in Parliament.

                The Party vote is the one that counts.”

                Which again I’m not denying and why I’m advocating for the electoral vote to also be counted along with them (the party vote). Ensuring every vote counts.

  25. Gosman 25

    What I find interesting about this voter participation question that has been posed by the author of this article is that the a number of the left wing posters who have responded seem to make the assumption that a large part of the people not voting are just waiting to be motivated by left wing policies. It highlights once again a large degree of arrogance.

    • McFlock 25.1

      Dunno about arrogance, a certain amount of projection maybe.

      Although to be fair that’s the minority of leftie commenters. Most commenters, even the tories, have made some interesting contributions to the discussion. Excluding yourself, of course.

  26. Anthony Rimell 26

    Making civics compulsory in schools will assist. Teaching young people the value and the power of being involved. It’s a generational change, but so has been the decline in participation.

    I know some worry it will be used as a tool to tell them how to vote. But my experience with young people suggests that its a fict/ fact: young people are highly attuned to being told what to do, so we need not worry there!

    Of course, participation would grow if politicians actually told us what they intend to do when in power, and then sought to do those very things!

    • Tamati Tautuhi 26.1

      I was never taught any civics at school, just got suspended for not attending a National Party lecture during school hours, however children need to be taught the importance of voting and taking an interest in politics.

      The reason National have stayed in power is voter apathy and MSM telling people that it is a done deal. I have a number of friends who can not be bothered voting, disillusioned with the whole politics thing.

      • Red 26.1.1

        No the reason national have stayed in power is becaus they have done a reasonable job, even labour is getting to grips with that re constant negativity does not work I suggest you missed a trick missing that national lecture, closing your ears to the truth does not help

        • Tamati Tautuhi

          National and Labour have both been hopeless over the past 40 years have lived off the sale of State Assets, we need Winston and NZF to rebuild the country which has been systematically dismantled by the oligarchs and the elitists over the past 60 years

    • Siobhan 26.2

      I’m not sure why this point hasn’t featured more in this conversation.
      Possibly not enough of us still have children at school, and do not realise how vacuous and purely score driven education has become.
      When I think of the topic ‘Social Studies’ that we had in the 70’s, well it all seems amazingly progressive compared to primary and Intermediate school teaching now.

      For those interested, this is a good read…


  27. nzsage 27

    Prior to the last election I spent a Saturday morning at an outdoor market near Wellington armed with a copy of the electoral role (including the Maori list) and a whole bunch of voter registrations forms.

    My aim was not to convince anyone to vote for a particular party but to just vote, it was a worrying experience.

    After approaching around 70 people I found that over 30% were not on the electoral role and while many took the time to complete a registration form on the spot around 10% were not interested in registering at all. With comments like; “It’s a waste of time”; “Nothing will change”

    While it was pleasing to get even a few people registered the general apathy was clear.

    You can lead a horse to water…..

    • greg 27.1

      govt already has data bases ird is probable the most comprehensive make better use of them make voting mandatory no vote no access to govt services without a good reason no vote then starve after five elections canvassing the apathy is ridiculous then they complain no houses poor wages but they wont use the one power leaver they have got .

      • GregJ 27.1.1

        The stats for enrolment are here.

        You will note the 18-24 and 25-29 age groups. This appears to be in line with other Western democracies.

  28. straightup 28

    For a start you keep greg oconner as far away as possible!!! That would be political suicide. I have never heard a discussion with a kind word said about him. Is labour so detached they cant see this. put some real people in positions not groomed politicians

    • GregJ 28.1

      I just assumed he would be starting for National when i first saw the story he was thinking of standing for Parliament. 👿

  29. Gosman 29

    This thread highlights how much of leftist thinking generally works.

    Identify a perceived problem despite little evidence of practical issues caused by said problem. Then come up with solutions involving massive increase in the role and power of the State (e.g. civics education of Students and compulsory voting).

    About the only suggestion not involving increasing the power and role of government from the left I have seen is to offer different policies. Try that first and see where it gets you.

    • McFlock 29.1

      Fuck off Gosman.

      Bunging a bit more civics into the current social studies curriculum isn’t a “massive increase”. Even compulsory voting is hardly a “massive” move from compulsory registration.

      And then of course you’ve ignored the different discussions about the disenfranchising of homeless people, the composition of parliament, and whether various tweaks to the voting system might be worthy of consideration.

      But then those don’t fit in to the talking point you’ve selected to maintain the status quo: alienating citizens from the entire process is the only way your corrupt religion stays in power.

  30. McFlock 30

    [bugger missed reply tab]

  31. Benby 31

    @Labour give us something to vote *for*. Colour. Social conscience. Young smart people. Women, LGBT, anything that mixes stuff up.

    What we get from Mr Little and Mr Robertson and Mrs Ardern are grey haired crime apologists. http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2017/01/if-greg-oconnor-is-answer-wtf-was.html

    And they think we think this one is better than done Dunne… well, it’s not.

  32. e-clectic 32

    Get rid of MMP – it’s confusing and frequently counter-intuitive and being gamed.
    Switch to STV, no lists and has a great record for accurately matching voting percentages to representation percentages unlike MMP with thresholds and the iniquitous wasted votes.
    Wasted votes – if you make a legitimate vote for a party that doesn’t meet the threshold the net effect is your vote gets split to parties you explicitly didn’t vote for. That is a sign of a crap voting system.
    Also – we currently have a government bloc that got less then 50% at the ballot but has 52.9% of seats in the house. Once again, sign of a crap system.

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