Online voting won’t lift participation but a midweek public holiday might


The final Auckland results are in & barely a third voted!

Lowest turn out in SuperCity history!

I appreciate the self congratulatory backslapping by the local Twitter political class, but that result is a dead fucking democracy with zero mandate.

Urgent reform is needed.

Academic research tells us that online voting will not lift participation rates, and the ease of hacking them mean they can never be acceptable, but I believe making the election a mid week public holiday could save our democracy and give us something to celebrate.

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We complain so much in this country about not having a day we can celebrate as NZers because many people feel anxious about the conflict of Waitangi Day.

Why not search for that which binds us and celebrate that?

Election Day should be a celebration because we are one of the few privileged nations around the planet that allows political leadership to change hands minus violence and repression. Our exercising of the right to vote peacefully is celebration in itself and making it a mid week public holiday would do more for participation rates than any single thing we could do.

Postal voting is a failure, online isn’t trust worthy, an old fashioned polling day with early voting that culminates in a mid week public holiday that everyone can celebrate would bind us and build us like no other idea could.

Imagine a mid week day where the whanau gather and go to vote while gathering at each others homes for the results. We could celebrate our democracy and celebrate us as a people.

We are only talking about 2 Election Days once every 3 years (a local government vote and a central government vote) so any argument that we couldn’t afford the loss of productivity is bullshit.

We need an out of the box idea, not more tinkering at the edges.

Our democracy is precious, it’s worth celebrating, and enabling participation is crucial to its survival and mandate. Making the election day a public holiday Wednesday is how we cement into place the importance of voting.


  1. I really like the idea, but why not a Friday? We love our long weekends and it takes the stress off workers and parents if they know they have a day after to recover from anything..

    Then, the following day/ Saturday could be focused on some great events and venues, with free entry when you show your “Already voted” stamp, and a cost to others. (Carrot and stick – heh)

    • If you make it a Friday or Monday, people will simply turn it into a 3 day weekend – by making it mid week we eliminate that potential and place the focus purely on the election and the celebration of our democracy

      • I’d say you’d need a voucher system where you can claim back your ‘free day’ if you do actually vote otherwise you’ll still get a large amount of people going “yay free day off – can’t be arsed voting though”. People should be better but they aren’t.

  2. I think it is as easy as having more in touch candidates to vote for.

    Money has become a focus in elections and controls like election spending are not being enforced so the odds are stacked against a normal person who wants the best for society towards power hungry types, backed by lobbyists to drive agendas on their behalf. Even if the candidates start off as decent people they seem to get hollowed out, by the process and more compromised by lobbyists. If they are not backed by lobbyists then they are often harassed by dirty politics type campaigns by the opposition.

  3. To be honest it a case of general disinterest. Local body particularly means nothing to a non homeowner and the electoral commission management should be sacked: the “inaccessibility so let’s do online” shows a real lack of insight and that kind of neo management style that lead to large pay packet and no practical skills that is really bollocking most of our working lives. Start by telling people WHY they need to vote: cos the same people ALWAYS vote and they are NOT necessarily interested in whats important to you. Why should you vote: if you’re a student and like free buses here in PN – VOTE or you might lose them. AND they could have advertised the Spinoff site better.

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