Regional council candidates Lan Pham and Axel Wilke are deeply concerned about low voter turnout so far. Voter turnout in Christchurch has fallen significantly compared to the last three local elections.
Voter turnout as of 9 October 2019
Axel is passionate about local democracy and he has, as he has for many years, compiled a set of voting recommendations across ECan, mayor, city councillors and CDHB (plus most of the community boards).
We know the loss of democracy at ECan has become entwined with people’s experience of environmental decline in Canterbury and that has caused a lot of hurt in our communities. We are encouraging people that rather than withdrawing from voting, in response to the injustice of losing democracy, it is even more important now that we seize it and use it for good. That’s why I’ve done my homework on who to vote for and am offering my advice to anyone who is struggling.Axel Wilke
It’s absolutely critical that we citizens vote in order to elect a Regional Council that is most representative of the people of Canterbury. Ultimately, we want to give the people of Canterbury an assurance that their regional council will be truly answerable to them once again; but that can only be fully realised with as much voter participation as possible.Lan Pham
We want this return to full democracy to be more than just people regaining the right to vote – we want ECan to be a leader in listening to and engaging with citizens, in order to make urgent transformational change for our environment. We know we have some hard work ahead in the face of huge environmental challenges, and bringing the people of Canterbury along with us is key in making progress. At this point the biggest contribution people can make is by voting.
Wilke and Pham are critical of the current paper and post voting system where voting is spread out over a three-week period, and the complexity of navigating the voting booklet. Councillor Lan Pham stresses:
I think we can see from voter returns that democracy is fragile and needs to be protected, fostered and nurtured, rather than taken for granted. Local government elections dictate so much of people’s everyday lives, and are as important, if not more important than central government elections.Lan Pham
I don’t think the current paper postal voting system spread over such a long time-frame is proving itself to be fit-for-purpose any longer, and urgently needs a rethink to keep up with modern society. A change to a voting system which mimics that of central government elections where anyone can cast an early vote, but that voting is mainly concentrated on one day, would be a good start. Voter turnout in the 2017 general election was 79.8%, much more than double the expected turnout for this local election.
Axel has knocked on several thousand doors.
When I’ve been out talking to voters, I constantly hear that people struggle most with the District Health Board elections. Whilst you can just leave your voting paper blank if you don’t want to participate in a particular part, my guess is that it stops people from voting at all.Axel Wilke
This all ties in with Wilke and Pham’s ‘Democracy Rebuild’ policy, which sets out a plan for the newly elected Council to oversee a full independent review of ECan as an organisation to ensure its democratic integrity is rebuilt and ready to face the future as a local government organisation that is fully accountable and transparent to its citizens and communities.
As Axel Wilke points out: “Given ECan’s unique situation with the return of democracy after nearly a decade, the time for Christchurch citizens to seize democracy is now.”
Electoral Commission advice is to post voting papers no later than Tuesday, 8 October, or hand deliver to your local council by 12 noon on 12 October when voting closes. If you have not enrolled or not received your voting papers you can cast a special vote by visiting your local council office; in Christchurch that is the following locations:
- Akaroa Service Centre, 78 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa (9am–5pm)
- Beckenham Service Centre, 66 Colombo Street, Beckenham (9am–5pm)
- Christchurch City Council Civic Offices, 53 Hereford Street (9am–5pm)
- Fendalton Service Centre, corner of Clyde and Jeffreys roads, Fendalton (9am–5pm)
- Linwood Service Centre, Eastgate Mall, first floor, Corner Buckleys Road and Linwood Avenue (9am–5pm)
- Lyttelton Service Centre, 18 Canterbury Street, Lyttelton (10am–6pm)
- Shirley Service Centre, 36 Marshland Road, Shirley (9am–5pm)
- Te Hāpua Halswell Service Centre, 341 Halswell Road, Halswell (9am–5pm)