Voter returns low as closing date looms

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Although voting documents have been out for almost two weeks, about 70 per cent of voters in the Waitaki District have yet to return their voting documents.

Waitaki District returning officer David Blair said so far, only 30 per cent of voting documents had been returned.

“This is five to 10 per cent lower than for the same period in 2010 and 2007,” he said.

“The election is the chance for residents and ratepayers to choose the people they want on council and other authorities and they should make the most of that opportunity.”

As at last Friday, returns were as follows:

Ward 1 – Ahuriri, 901 voters, a return of 269 or 29.86 per cent; Ward 2 – Oamaru, 9914 voters, a return of 3672 or 37.04 per cent; Ward 3 – Waihemo, 1703 voters, a return of 601 or 35.29 per cent; and, Ward 4 – Corriedale, 3059 voters, a return of 913 or 29.85 per cent.

There are 15,577 eligible voters in the Waitaki District and to date, only 5455 voting papers had been received.

Waitaki mayoralty candidates, with seven vying for the role, have urged voters to have their say.

Gary Kircher: “What the council does affects every one of us and it’s important to have a say about who are the next mayor and councillors. Are you happy with the performance of the council or would you like to see it pick up its game to help Waitaki become the best district in New Zealand? You can help decide that direction, but only if you vote.”

David Wilson: “I believe public spending is too centralised, with council’s controlling only 11 per cent of public spending. It is time to open up debate on whether more services should be delivered more locally and whether more public spending should be controlled by councils. This debate is almost absent. A royal commission or review could be required to ensure change. When things matter to a community, they get more involved, they vote more.”

Eric Spittal: “I would be extremely disappointed if there was a low voter interest in the upcoming elections. Have a look anywhere in this district or indeed anywhere else in New Zealand at our war memorials for those thousands of men and woman who paid the ultimate sacrifice for democracy. It is essential that the community take the time to elect those whom they can have an expectation their candidate will in fact truly represent their aspirations. I am not sure that I would want to be mayor of a district that was to apathetic to remember that democracy has been hard fought for at a terrible cost. I could weep when I think of all of the markers around our district remembering our fallen. This generation are here to reap the benefits of their sacrifices, but will not take the time to at least honour their ultimate sacrifices so that they can vote.”

Fliss Butcher: “Many of our ancestors have been killed to get you a vote. Please honour the dead by taking a few minutes to fill in the voting forms and post them back.”

Helen Stead: “I challenge all Waitaki residents to top New Zealand’s local government voting turn-out this year. Talk to, Tweet and Facebook everyone you know, family, friends, and neighbours, at work or play. Vote and make Waitaki history in 2013. Democracy dates back to the 6th century BC and classical Greece. Not only do neo-classical Oamaru-stone buildings line the streets of many New Zealand towns and cities, but it is 150 years this year since Oamaru’s first Town Board was elected and 120 years since women in New Zealand led the world gaining the vote. Why vote? Because we can create our own history at the same time as we Vote for Waitaki and vote for our children’s children.”

Jim Hopkins: “We’ve always had a good turn-out here and I’m sure we still will. People care about their community, they are involved, and I think our voting numbers will be about the same as they were three years ago. If they are down, that may be a sign people are generally happy. It’s when people aren’t happy about something that numbers really go up but I just hope, if people are positive, they still take the time to pick positive people. I’d just say, be sure you vote. This is your chance to choose. So make it happen.”

Greg Smith: “I hope everyone gets out and votes. It is sad to see the low voter returns nationwide but this appears to be following trends from the last two elections. It is important that everyone has their say.”

According to Mr Blair, there is still time for people to return their voting papers.

“We encourage voters to post them as soon as possible,” he said.

“But, if they miss the postie, the Waitaki District Council office in Oamaru will be open from 8.30am until noon on Saturday, October 12, so that people can drop in their voting documents or get a special vote.

“The most important message is to make your vote count.”

By Jacquie Webby