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New Zealand Localities
Adopt Choice Voting Form of Proportional Representation

September 2002

At least eight local councils in New Zealand will use choice voting (also called "the single transferable vote") for their next elections, while others having citizen votes on the issue include the capital city of Wellington.

The New Zealand parliament had passed a law the required use of choice voting for new health board elections in 2004 and giving localities the option to adopt the system. As of September 22, all 86 local councils (15 city councils, 59 district councils and 12 regional councils made their decisions. Eight councils resolved to change to choice voting immediately for 2004. Many others held off, as many councilmembers apparently did not want to change the winner-take-all system that elected them.

There are now numerous petition efforts for a citizen vote on the electoral system -- petitioners must gathering the signatures off 5% of electors. They have 90 days to get them, meaning in this case until mid-December 2002. Polls of electors must then take place within 82 days, which would mean by the end of March 2003.

In addition, local councils have until 28 February 2003 to resolve to hold a referendum, regardless of what decision they made (or, in the case of 14 of them, didn't make) by the 12th of this month. he poll in Wellington City is on Saturday, 30 November; the poll in Whangarei District is on Thursday, 5 December; and the Masterton District Council will resolve, sometime late-November/early December, to hold a poll in March 2003.

For more information, visit www.stv.govt.nz, a helpful website run by the Department of Internal Affairs.


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