An email from a reader about voter apathy

The reader emails:

Hello ,

This is a letter to the Herald that I sent to the newspaper yesterday.

I am really concerned about the low voter turnout and the excuses being made by high profile media people the likes of Mike Hosking as to why they did not vote in the local body elections .

Much is being made of the ” difficulties and awkwardness ” of the postal ballot which was brought into being because of the ” inconvenience” to voters to go to polling stations.

Now we hear that online voting being brought into the frame.

It seems the 30 second attention span of a large majority of eligible voters would be challenged even with this facility.


Here are my thoughts for what ever they are worth;

The low voter turnout for the recent council elections is a sad indictment of the apathy that has  permeated and overcome our society.

For all the self righteous talk and chest beating about our precious democratic values when it comes right down to it ,as a people ,the majority of the voting population of New Zealand pay little more than lip service and scant respect for our rights to them.

The list of weak excuses rolled out from those who did not vote ,” I forgot” ,”I did not know anything about the candidate” , “I couldn’t be bothered” ,etc just underlines the laziness and apathetic stupidity of a population too self absorbed and spoilt to take the time to seek information about candidates for themselves.

The candidates were all contactable and information freely available but it took just a little effort on the individual voters part to find it.

It is the responsibility of us all to protect our democracy by being aware of that which affects our daily lives ,which means taking time to research that of which we are not sure to make informed decisions when the time comes to vote .

Unfortunately the population at large has become so dependant on being told what to believe in ,the politics of personality and envy and whether an individual is telegenic or not and broadcasts via the media slanted to reflect the opinions of the editorial staff ,it has become all too  easy to lay the blame at someone else’s door for an individuals own lack of motivation or common sense.

Democracy and freedom are hard fought for rights that people in some far off countries  can still only dream about and yearn for.
Yet here we are with a population that preaches democracy but for all intents and purposes are willing to be led by the nose and squeal when elected representatives do something not to their liking.

There is no free ride on anything worthwhile and we need a solid foundation to maintain our freedoms and that means everyone doing their bit when it comes to getting the best people to represent us at election times.

Let’s see what the next general election reveals about the population of this country?


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  • Timboh

    My view on voter turnout is that if some people can’t be bothered then it is probably best they didn’t anyway as they would not have a considered, informed view. Quality votes not quantity.

    • James Growley

      Then how come Len Brown is still there? Despite bad press, the multitudes whinging and bleating, Helen Kelly throwing him under the bus, Union members told not to vote for him and a fair chunk of the left pissed off with him, he still gets in…………by quality voting??

      • Andy C

        Could be, perhaps he was simply the best choice and your viewpoint is wrong. Could that be possible?

      • Timboh

        Simple. Brown had enough people who wanted him in to vote for him. His opponents didn’t.

    • Andy C

      And that’s the point the writer, and many others who seem to want everyone to vote, misses.

      • Timboh

        Exactly. If everyone had to vote the result would be at the mercy of the donkey vote.

  • Col

    I can fix this, you have 3 colours Red, Blue and Green, pick a colour that’s for Mayor.
    For council pick a colour and you have a choice of colours in that section and pick 5.
    Easier for all, the other thing we can have the voting at the Lotto Shops.

  • blokeintakapuna

    Totally agree…
    Also, for those of us in our 40’s, we remember grandparents telling vague stories of heading off to foreign lands to help the populations fight for their rights to have a say, contribute and be a part of a democratic society.
    Those that abdicate their responsibility with this through apathy and laziness certainly don’t deserve the rights delivered to them through the death’s and maiming of thousands of ANZAC’s as they fought to protect our democratic options.
    Perhaps with technology being able to identify which country an IP address comes from, maybe it’s time to link that technology with IRD info, so net tax contributors can vote on line… and anyone else doesn’t deserve or get a vote. Contribute – or no say. Easy.

    • Andy C

      One of our democratic options is the choice on whether or not to vote.

    • Hazards001

      Well considering that the ANZACS you refer to bloke were for the most part not by your definition NET tax payers I’m not sure many of them would feel that’s what they went to war for.
      As a 7th generation of Kiwi that has had men of every generation serve in the military in one way or another I sometimes get a bit pissy about this so called net taxpayer thing even though I actually fall into the category.
      Selective democracy is not democracy. Sorry.

  • redeye

    It would be interesting to know how many of those that marched in the so called ‘March for Democracy’ sent their voting forms in. Just to see their hypocrisy.

    Although personally I could give a damn. If they want to let the rest of us choose the government for them, all the better.

    Also if online voting becomes the norm I’d like to see entry to that web site protected by some simple questions like ‘Name at least 2 candidates’. So it’s assured they have at least have some basic understanding before ticking the first name on the list. Making voting easier will just encourage donkey votes and not necessarily give us the best government.

  • SteveWrathall

    In fairness, it takes more than “a little” effort, to find out anything meaningful about the 74 names for 4 elections I had. Even wading through the 1/2-page profiles provided (most of it vanilla pap), took hours. Going beyond this to search for the fb or twitter accounts, could literally consume you.

    • FredFrog

      Exactly. There was no clear concise info anywhere about what any of the candidates stood for.

      Just knowing party affiliation would have been a great help.

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Bros – Don’t worry. Spoke to Curryleaf. He is going to bring in an incentive scheme. Anybody who has voted in the local body election will get a sticker which says “I voted”. I understand there is a huge support for this scheme from the voters on the street.

  • Reason1

    I don’t agree we should be criticised for not voting. I made a considered decision not to vote. Why should I vote for councilors I have no idea of where they stand on things like spending, environment and are they competent with financial matters or not. I read the brochure that came out, it said nothing of any substance about how the candidates would vote on any key issues. If is ridiculous to have all of this carping that we we should vote no matter what, uninformed voting is not democratic. It really does not matter who is on the local council in Queenstown where I live, any big issues get resource consents and media coverage. The public are very vocal on these issues.
    Health boards are a joke, why on earth do we vote for the boards for those? That structure is ridiculous, get the best people appointed like a commercial board and get on with it. This sop to democracy is not really getting health outcomes, show me anywhere in NZ where democracy bought a better health outcome for the local community? Is have an appointed board at the Canterbury Regional Council really disenfranchising anyone or is it getting things done the previous councilors could not move forward on?
    I am a fan of democracy, it is just not worth getting too excited about councils and boards that are largely box ticking exercises for the management who actual run those organisations.

    • Phil T Tipp

      Too right. The message the original whinger has missed is that precious few of us care to give even a moment’s thought for the clipboard-weilding local piggy troughers at council level, whose simple job it is – as public servants remember, to empty the bins and cut the fucking grass – this is not the end of democracy.

      Not that you, citizens, really have any say in any fucking thing, ever – and keep paying your fucking taxes or we’ll send round the boys and you’ll rot in gaol. Now vote for more of the same and shut the fuck up.

  • dyannt

    Go back to only property owners being able to vote in the Local Body Elections and I believe the voter turnout % would be up in the 90’s.

  • Patrick

    Voter apathy – sure but just look at the quality of the politicians and their politics. Where is the vision, direction, inspiration? All we have is a bunch of same old same old out of the way as I push into the trough bludgers. In NZ the likes of Cunliffe & Norman are fermenting class warfare & deep down Kiwis don’t like it, that is why we keep bending over every time a new tax or benefit is announced. We believe in a fair go, but many of us also believe a fair go should work both ways, you should not see the welfare state as a career choice. Unfortunately the left in NZ are slowly but surely spreading the welfare state into all areas of our lives, including at local government level.
    JFK was a unique character at a unique point in time but boy didn’t he instill inspiration, pride and ambition in the citizens of the USA. Look worldwide at the quality of politicians, grey men in suits all hooked on taxing the bejesus out of their citizens to fund their own versions of the welfare state. Look at NZ, sure Key is making a fair fist of his job but what of the others – Cunliffe, Norman, Peters, et al. What a poor poor bunch of career opportunists hell bent on building their own Wiki pages.
    Why would you be bothered getting out to vote when all you get is more of the same?