As msm scramble to explain low voter turnout – why voters weaponised their apathy & how to actually solve it


Beyond all the self congratulations of Aucklands re-elected local political class is the naked truth barely a third of the city even bothered voting. No one can pretend to have a mandate to do any thing and the divided Council this low vote has spat out means sweet bugger all is going to happen in the next term.

TDB was the first media outlet who argued this could be the lowest voter turn out on record because we looked at the actual pre-enrolment levels before the first vote was even cast, and what we saw was that somehow the Council had managed to enrol even less people than the last election despite more houses being built in that time and despite far more people being in Auckland!

I predicted that the turn out would be barely 30%. So it has come to pass.

Now you can listen to the mainstream media as they scramble to explain things, or stick with the guys who called it first, because online voting IS NOT the bloody solution!

When participation is this low, there is something horribly damaged with our democracy and that needs urgent attention because a lack of participation robs the process of any legitimacy, if these issues aren’t solved then they really are open for a Brexit or Trump like aftershock.

Aucklanders weaponised their apathy because the see the process as an empty meaningless gesture, and I would argue this weaponised apathy started at the Census when huge numbers simply didn’t bother engaging.

REAL POWER: One of the reasons Aucklanders weaponised their apathy is because Council has sweet bugger all real power and that the technocrats make most of the decisions. The ‘Council Controlled Organisations’ are not controlled by Council at all, to lift participation rates you need to have Councillors that have real power, not the pretence of real power.

REAL CHANGE: Voters need to be able to see real universal services that have real impacts on their lives – free public transport is the sort of thing that would create real change and have a direct impact in peoples lives in the city and ensure they turn out and vote every single election.

TDB Recommends

REAL VISION: The total lack of true local representation kills off participation. We need far more local councillors and they need to have far more say over local issues. We desperately need local resilience networks to help build processes to deal with climate change issues.

DUMP POSTAL BRING BACK ELECTION DAY: Postal voting is a joke, dump them and bring back one day of voting the way we do with the National elections.

MAKE ELECTION DAY A MID WEEK PUBLIC HOLIDAY: Celebrate the fact we are one of the few places on earth where the transfer of power can be done peacefully by making election day a Wednesday and making that day a public holiday so that whanau can gather together, cast their vote as a group down at the local election centre and go home for a big BBQ to celebrate our democracy.

LOWER VOTING AGE TO 16: Young people will face the force of climate change far more deeply than older voters, their concerns and their voices need to be heard and engaging them young will keep them engaged.

NEW REVENUE STREAM TO FUND AUCKLAND INFRSATRUCTURE: Auckland’s problem is the same as many councils, we can’t borrow more for the investment we desperately need because it will trigger a higher interest rate on the existing debt. There needs to be some function where by the NZ Super Fund can directly invest into Council infrastructures without it appearing on the balance sheet of the council as a debt.


There needs to be a wholesale re-investment into Local Government so that instead of being a faux democratic choice, citizens actually feel like their vote means something rather than an act masquerading as democracy for the illusion of legitimacy.

Despite the Spinoff level smug self congratulations of those who won in Auckland, 32% turn out is a sad and sorry joke, except that jokes require structure, timing and skill.

This result has given us none of that.


  1. Perhaps you could look on the positive side Martyn.
    If 32% voted, it means that 68% (of those enrolled?) did not vote. Which means that a huge majority of New Zealanders are unpersuaded that the current political system serves their interests in any way whatsoever.
    Getting people off the regime’s “politics” is like getting them off drugs. It is a first step towards being able to do real and meaningful things in their own lives.

  2. Until government in general starts being accountable and listening to voters people will continue to ignore them. For myself I doubt I will see anything by way of actual change in my life time. Indeed I predict things will only get worse and the establishment will starting forcing people to vote just to sustain the pretence it actually means anything anymore.

  3. Maybe there are just a bunch of thickos living in NZ? People totally disconnected from civics? When it’s time to go all German chef on the disconnected status-quo .. like Einstein, the few remaining smarts Kiwi’s will get the next-ticket-out-of-here.

    Most Kiwi’s are brainwashed anyway [perhaps thickos too?], so probably BEST they stay away from “complicated” voting forms, LMFAO.

    Congratulations to all those elected, you deserve to rule – reign with an iron fist or however you see fit. NZ certainly has better governance than it deserves.

  4. More spies, more criminal migrants exploiting more migrants… more Gary Lin slumlords.. because hell, who doesn’t want more foreign slumlords when there are enough in No Zealand already?

    • Slumlords have been replaced neoliberal style, by business, aka moteliers and emergency housing at $1000 p/w for 1 room, and community homes owned and run by global overseas businesses and shared kitchens and bathrooms compass style and not under the tenancy tribal rules by the sound of it, or student halls with undiscovered bodies, .. where privately or publicly people and taxpayers pay triple under neoliberalism to have the privilege of being under a ‘business’ model for housing, to have even less service, less room, less amenity and pay triple the price.

      • saveNZ- one of the reasons Wgtn just dumped a one term mayor was a property development issue, which perhaps by chance, I think showed the greed and downright ugliness of what happens when money rules, and when money calls the shots.

        A rundown defence force base in idyllic Shelley Bay, had plans approved to hideously overdevelop a peaceful beauty spot, with scant regard for the natural aesthetics, the environment, or existing road and transport infrastructure. Peter Jackson, wearing his goodie hat, rightly described it as soviet era building, and supported the newly elected mayor, councillor Andy Foster, who had been concerned with what was happening at Shelley Bay long before we plebs heard about it.

        This can only be good for Wgtn. Foster has the institutional knowledge, and an impeccable history on Town Belt issues. What it means though, is that Wellingtonians
        cannot afford to trust the WCC again, that just because we’ve won previous battles on Town Belt issues, does not mean that the council can be relied upon to behave in a socially and environmentally responsible manner when there’s an opportunity for the good old boys to make money. We have to watch them like hawks, forever. We may have to start attending WCC meetings again – when they’re not closed to us.

        A drunk with lego could could have produced better – as long as he hadn’t felt compelled to use multi-packs of building bricks, and to begrudge the good earth its breathing space.

        • +1 Snow White, it is sad how the council and RMA are interpreting ‘growth’ to mean a no bars, short term based neoliberal approach rather than balancing social and environmental long term amenity and outcomes.

          The RMA rules have been litigated and interpreted and precedents constantly set for private profits that it has skewed the entire NZ RMA system to be dysfunctional to the community and environment and easily manipulated by the process which can easily be manipulated in a way that the criminal law can not be. (Aka RMA is processed based where money can be used to pay off ‘experts’ to say whatever you want or bury important negative information in long complex reports).

          Under the worsening conditions of democracy for planning, you conservatively need $50k+ to challenge anything in environmental court, but even if you had the money the RMA rules and processes are interpreted by lawyers and bovine planners in a way to bow down to money as paid experts and flawed reports carry more weight than fairness or practicality. Even when it is discovered that reports are wrong or information presented in a way to bury negative information then nothing happens to the instigators who provided the misleading reports.

          Now with many of the planners now either leaving, foreign trained (aka so much easier to indoctrinate foreign trained planners as they are less likely to question anything they are told to do or care).

          As for selling off public land like defence… can turn out terribly wrong. This UK example shows how short sighted politicians are and how easily they are manipulated.

          “In 1996, the Ministry of Defence decided to sell off its housing stock. The financier Guy Hands bought it up in a deal that would make his investors billions – and have catastrophic consequences for both the military and the taxpayer”.

  5. The proponents of postal voting never want to discuss one important point:
    The returning officers will and can never know if the person to whom the voting form was posted was the actual person who filled in the form. Every three years I get at least three voting forms from people who lived at my address up to seven years ago and obviously have not given a change of address to election HQ. If I was unscrupulous I could simply send back all the forms ticked with MY choices and no-one would ever know. I don’t choose to do this, but I can imagine that others might. The point is that the system makes it easy to cheat, we would be naive to think that some people with political agendas won’t use this opportunity to cheat. So then we need to ask ourselves how accurately do these results reflect the true wishes of voters? I suspect that they are far less accurate than is popularly believe.
    Postal voting is attempting to conduct a vital democratic process on the cheap, and when you try to do things on the cheap they usually fail.

  6. the new local body councils voting system needs to have paper votes, online voting , on the day enrolment with ID and local booths to go to vote this way everyone has chance to vote make it easier

  7. the new local body councils voting system needs to have paper votes, online voting , on the day enrolment with ID and local booths to go to vote this way everyone has chance to vote make it easier

  8. I agree with some of this – we are neither thickos or lazy – many of us think that it is a waste of time nothing will change so why bother and the silly little pieces in the booklet tell us so little really.

    Yes to 16 year olds being able to vote – we must have civics in schools

    A half day off mid-week would do it.

    BUT WE MUST HAVE Compulsory voting hold it, hold it, I can explain this.
    Firstly there needs to be a ‘no confidence’ option for this and Government elections on the voting papers. Once this is in place make it compulsory to vote. Why should those totally disillusioned with politicians be expected to tick boxes without this option being available to them. We should be able to see how local body councillors voted over the past 3 years, it would be relatively simple to set up a spreadsheet for this.

    In addition to this I would have liked to ask those putting their names forward a range of questions e.g. do you support selling council assets, do you support fluoridation of our water, do you support user charges for our water, do you support the living wage, do you think communities should be able to determine whether liquor, fast food and pokie venues can operate in their communities etc. Questions and answers should be available for anyone to put forward and for all to see.

    Finally I am totally opposed to on-line voting, this is far too risky to venture into.

  9. I agree with a lot of what you said Martyn, all apart from bringing the voting age down to 16. If 2/3 of the existing voters can’t be arsed to vote, how many 16 year-olds will bother?

    Auckland voters faced a dilemma that was solved by not voting: Vote for the incumbent arse-wipe or vote for the new arse-wipe? Are these really the best mayoral candidates that NZ can muster?

    In recent years I have becomes involved in local politics in a minor way and my observation is that you’d need to be delusional to get involved in a local body election: It’s expensive, the remuneration is poor and if you should be lucky enough to get elected, the actual work is dire. Endless yawnfest meetings and procedural bollocks. It’s purgatory on Earth.

    So maybe that’s why good candidates don’t stand.

  10. All your critiques and suggestions have merit.the only thing I would also sugest is that every paper has tge option of voting no confidence – either as a blanket statement, or a per candidate option, or with an additional section that offer the option of voting no confidence in the machinery of council and its officials.

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