A recent election managed to get less than one in ten eligible people voting.
You may wonder how bad a campaign needs to be run to get this sort of turnout. Even Local Government in Auckland with its complex multiple races and a candidate book to read and the need to rank the Health Board candidates in preferential order last time managed a 35% turnout.
This is a strange election. The incumbents get to decide on how much to pay the returning officer to run the election and this of course will determine how effective the turnout campaign is. And it appears they may have watched how the Republicans have suppressed US turnout to their advantage. In fact my impression is that they could give Trump’s lot some lessons.
Entrust holds $3 billion of Vector shares. Vector owns the local electricity distribution assets. National aligned C&R has dominated the board since its creation back in the Ruthenasia days of 1993.
The trust gets to distribute dividends from these shares to the beneficiaries of the trust which are the residents of the Istmus and South Auckland.
But it appears that the benefits for some reason are not shared equally. For instance the Trust has a power line undergrounding fund. But weirdly South Auckland misses out on undergrounding while at the same time Remuera, Freemans Bay, Epsom, Parnell and Herne Bay gets more undergrounding projects than anywhere else.
This year a group of progressives under the banner of More for You Better for the Climate stood hoping to gain power and change the way that Vector works. They stood on a platform of lowering household costs and having a climate change focus. They came agonisingly close to gaining power with Urban Designer Emma McInnes falling short by 739 votes.
Who were they up against? A professional company director, an electrical engineer, an accountant, and two former National Party MPs.
With a turnout of 9.64% you have to wonder who ran such a clusterfuck of a campaign.
It appears that part of the problem is partially structural. Entrust’s trust deed, which controls the operation of the trust, provides:
As soon as practicable after the 16th day before the Election Date, and in any case not later than the 10th day before the Election Date, the returning officer shall distribute to each Consumer at that Consumer’s address as shown on the Roll, and in such manner as the returning officer considers appropriate”.
This timeline may have worked a decade ago when post deliveries happened daily and there were post offices and post boxes throughout the country. But with significantly reduced infrastructure this posed a significant problem. Check out Twitter for multiple examples where voting papers either did not arrive in time or did not arrive at all.
Resourcing was obviously an issue. Progressives complained about there being little if no advertising for the campaign. The only group that appeared to be pushing the campaign were the More For You campaign team and their supporters.
The Trust deed says:
The returning officer shall be entitled to utilise the services of such persons as the returning officer may deem appropriate, and to require that the cost of such services be met out of the Trust Fund. In the event of doubt or dispute as to any matter affecting such an election, the returning officer shall be entitled to resolve such doubt or dispute, and the decision of the returning officer shall be final and conclusive.
But it also says:
The returning officer shall be entitled to receive such reasonable remuneration and reimbursement of expenses as the Trustees shall determine after consultation with the returning officer.
So you get exactly the campaign that you pay for and if you pay the returning officer a budget amount and not pay them to do the work to advertise properly then no advertising will happen.
The second aspect of the campaign which is mind boggling unfair is that Entrust gets to trumpet the payment of the annual dividend to consumers and in election year around the time that the voting papers are sent out. Instead of just crediting their power account and at considerable expense and in santa claus fashion they send out cheques to consumers or letters confirming that the amount has been paid into their accounts. Check out how complex the process is.
Predictably turnout heavily skewered wealthy areas and I suspect that the more wealthy in poorer areas were also the likely ones to vote. This was a graphic from near the end of the voting period before final votes were count but you get the message.
There needs to be an urgent inquiry into the running of this election. And any board that ran a campaign that had less than one in ten people vote should be sacked for incompetence.