So, thanks to the fact that we have a fixed term for local elections, we have 284 days until the next election. That’s right, it’s local election time on the 12th of October.
I’ve been reading some interesting ideas on reporting on elections and rather than tell you what’s going on or analyze anything this far off, what I’d rather do is ask you, the largely engaged and passionate readers of The Standard, which council(s) you’ll be voting for, and what issues you would like your local candidates to address? (the “who you get to vote for” part is because different issues will be important in different places)
Sure, it’s great to discuss policies, values, and intentions, but before that, we really need to know what the public want and why, or we’ll be talking about things that you all regard as distractions. I’ll be stopping by occassionally to reply to the best answers, or try and redirect comments that are going a bit astray.
So while we’re on the topic of local elections, I’ll also mention: The disastrous idea of trialling online voting has been canned, even if it would be opt-in, this time. Councils are still under the mistaken impression they have “solved” the security issues, something I’ve never heard an actual security professional admit was even possible, and they are still looking at moving forward in 2022, so if this concerns you and you’re a resident of one of the following areas, let your representatives know:
Auckland, Gisborne District, Hamilton City, Marlborough District, Matamata-Piako District, Palmerston North City, Selwyn District, Tauranga City Council and Wellington City.
There is a legitimate need for ways to better engage the public and boost turnout for local elections, but making them fundamentally more insecure (and this is compared to vote-by-mail, which arguably already is vulnerable to ballot theft) doesn’t seem to be a good answer. Part of the issue with this is that media are shedding local coverage, so I’m hoping that there will be some opportunities for me and other bloggers to step into the gap and actually give you an idea of what candidates are actually for and against, hence the question.
I’ve also always favoured moving General Elections to a fixed date* and aligning local elections with that date, allowing people to vote in person, and having councils co-operate with the Electoral commission on running a chiefly in-person vote at the same time as the general election as a way to boost turnout. It means there’s more to decide at the election, but it also means all the politics happens at once, and local candidates and national candidates can align policies or debate policies as appropriate, which should actually result in some real media attention to local candidates without having to go to weird extremes to get them covered, or relying on meetings that only super-engaged people ever come to, anyway.
Credit for image: Ingolfson, donated to the public domain on Wikipedia.
*Okay, I favour something a little more complicated with a kind of hybrid system for our national politics, of course, it can’t be me and still be simple.
I’d rather we have fixed election dates than the Prime Minister instructing the Governor General when to hold an election, but if a no-confidence vote passes, I still favour allowing a snap election without any special mandate, assuming that said no-confidence vote isn’t within a few months of the upcoming general election. The snap election would determine Parliament for the remainder of the existing fixed term, (the lack of such a legal requirement is why the UK’s fixed term Parliaments aren’t really “fixed term,” so much as a less flexible system that still allows a consequence-free snap election with a supermajority in favour) so there would be a genuine disincentive to calling one when it’s not needed, and it would be held on, say, the tenth particular day of the week (eg. Wednesday or Saturday) following the house being dissolved so that nobody gets to tweak the exact timing.
And as I’ve mentioned before, I also want election day to be on a weekday and a public holiday, (and to be portable to the next working day for people who don’t usually work that day, just to be fair) so that as few people need to ask for time off to vote as possible, and so that people feel like they’re genuinely being given extra time to vote rather than it being a chore they have to fit into an existing weekend. These two things complement each other really well, and it’s a little insane that we’ve fixed local election dates but not national-level ones.