For the first time in its history Tauranga City councillors have agreed to change the voting system which elects them into their three-year terms.
City councillors this week voted to try the single transferable vote system, instead of first past the post.
It is a decision that can be challenged by the electorate if enough people are against it. The council is required to give public notice of the right to demand a poll on the electoral system to be used for its elections no later than September 19 2017. Demanding such a poll requires five per cent of the enrolled voters at the previous elections – 4,532 voters.
The difference between FFP and STV is that instead of placing a tick beside the name of a single candidate, with STV they are ranked by number according to the voters’ choice.
There are eight councils in NZ that use STV. Dunedin like Tauranga has a mix of ward seats and at large seats. Wellington regional council has wards. Wellington city council is also STV. Porirua wards, Palmerston North at large, Kapiti Coast is mixed and at large says returning officer Warwick Lampp. He thinks the Kaipara is a mix of wards and at large. Marlborough District Council Is also STV.
Returning officer Warwick Lampp says people do use the transferable vote.
“What we see is that 30 per cent rank just one candidate. Twenty to 25 per cent rank two candidates, and then the rest is split between the other numbers.
“So that shows that people do use those preferences, if they wish.”
Under the STV system a person choosing only one candidate is effectively choosing to not allow their vote to be transferred to someone else.
“Ranking candidates is all about ranking candidates in order of preference. What it allows you to do is record a preference beside candidates that you would like to see elected. You can rank as few or as many as you wish.
“If your most preferred candidate doesn’t get in then part of your vote goes to support your second preference.”
The change was supported 8/3 with Mayor Greg Brownless, Terry Molloy and Bill Grainger voting against it.
“Until we can adequately get it across to the community how this thing works, how you do get a better representation? I’m not supporting it,” says Terry. Greg Brownless says STV has a ‘Don’t worry trust us’ connotation, of what could possibly go wrong.
“it’s a pity there weren’t three or four options here because we could do that STV system around the table, and have a little mock vote and see how it comes out.”
Bill Grainger says if things are working well as they are, they do not need to fix them.
Kelvin Clout says he’s very much in favour of it as it means each person’s vote is less likely to be wasted.
“You can pick number one for your most preferred candidate and you can go two three or four, just however many you want to.
“If people can’t figure out one means the top, and two second… I’m very concerned about the level of intelligence if they can’t get their head around that. I believe STV is the fairest approach.”