Young voters want more info on council contenders

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A study by a researcher at the University of Otago has found young people want to vote in the upcoming local government elections but don’t feel they have enough information to make an informed decision.

Doctor of Business Administration student Kyle Whitfield says his research topic “Youth and Local Government – do the two ever meet? Revealed a number of things that hold young people back from voting in council elections.

“The statistics show that councils, the Electoral Commission or officialdom should be including more information. Currently the word count for the candidate information booklets is 150 words. This is very inadequate.”

Mr Whitfield, a former governance and support team leader and deputy electoral officer at the Palmerston North City Council, and self-described “political junkie”, surveyed 435 people aged between 18 and 24, in Dunedin and Palmerston North.

Almost 70 per cent thought online or e/Voting should be an option, with almost a third of those surveyed believing postal voting was not easy or straightforward. However, the majority of comments from participants discussed the need for a robust system if online voting were to be introduced.

“These results suggest we need to have a dual system of how to vote,” he says.

“Keep with the current postal format, but introduce e/Voting. It does need to be well planned and not rushed, but we’re in the 21st Century and the postal system is not what it used to be.”

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