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Media Releases
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Christchurch voters reject change for local body election system

7 April 2003

Christchurch electors have voted to stay with the First Past the Post (FPP) system for the next two local body elections.

A postal ballot asking voters to choose between FPP and the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system closed at midday today (5 April). The result was 53,204 for FPP and 30,334 for STV. There were 1511 informal votes cast.

Christchurch electoral officer Max Robertson says the 85,049 votes received represent 36.47 per cent of enrolled voters.

Results of the Environment Canterbury by-election for Christchurch West are to be released by ECan. For information, phone Peter Berry on 025 339 765.

Background to city vote
Voting papers were posted out in mid-March. It was a simple majority decision: whichever electoral system attracted the most votes would be used for the 2004 and 2007 Mayoral, City Council and Community Board elections, and any associated by-elections.
Christchurch is the second of the country’s large cities to put the issue to a vote. Wellington late last year narrowly voted in favour of a change to STV. In that vote, fewer than four in 10 registered voters took part and, of those, just over half favoured STV.
Voters in several other cities and districts (including Dunedin, Nelson and Banks Peninsula) are now, or soon will be, taking part in similar polls as a result of petitions.

Nationally, the STV system came into consideration because of a change in the law under which local government operates. The Government decided councils should now regularly review their electoral systems and give voters an opportunity to decide if a change is needed.
Last year the Christchurch City Council decided it did not favour change. It had earlier circulated information about the STV voting system and asked for people’s opinions. The Council’s vote was close — 13-12. At the time the Council decided it would conduct a poll on electoral systems as part of the 2004 elections.

After that decision, a local group began collecting signatures for a petition to force a binding vote. Under the law if 5 per cent of voters (in Christchurch, that’s about 11,000 people) ask for a poll, the Council is bound to hold one. The petition was presented just before Christmas, and it was found to contain enough signatures to require a poll to be held.

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