Monday, October 10, 2022

The Monday after

The local body election finished over the weekend, and seems to have delivered a tide of reactionary grey NIMBYs over much of the country. Wellington seems to be the exception, electing a progressive Green mayor backed by a left majority council, so they will get to have nice things like intensification, public transport and cycleways, and maybe a bit less shit on the streets. In much of the rest of the country though it appears to be all cars, motorways, "heritage", anti-three waters, and "Keep Rates Low" - all while demanding central government pay for their pet projects.

Palmerston North seems not to have done too badly. From preliminary results, mayor Grant Smith won on the first ballot, in part because there wasn't any real competition. For council, it doesn't seem so bad: both Green and one Labour councillor were elected, and while we lost Labour's Zulfiqar Butt, no-one really terrible was elected. Though the caveat on that is that VFF-candidate James Candish is the highest-ranking unsuccessful candidate, and so could potentially displace the Greens' Kaydee Zabelin on the specials. Turnout seems to have been around 35%, though again that's without the special votes. Which is pretty shit, really.

The good news is that with low turnout around the country and well-publicised problems with last-minute voting in Auckland, politicians seem to be open to fixing the mess of local government elections. The Spinoff has some ideas here, though I'm cautious about trying to replace (rather than supplement) postal voting with physical booths in an STV, general-ward environment like Palmerston North. Ranking even a portion of the ~30 candidates we had took considerable effort and research - its a bit much of an information load to expect people to handle in a few minutes in a polling booth. Which means either encouraging people to do their research first and take their own cheat sheets (which is a discouragement), allowing Australian-style "how to vote" material (culturally alien in Aotearoa), or encouraging councils to reduce ward sizes to give voters a more manageable decision-space (which they will hate). We should however absolutely turn the job over to the Electoral Commission and put the incompetent private election companies out of business. And we should absolutely not give the job to incompetent, unsafe, and fundamentally insecure online voting companies instead.