By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter
As the ballots trickle in, voters pick up the phone to ask candidates what they stand for.
“I’ve had several people call me and ask if we know what their ties are, which I take as code for ‘do they belong to fringe parties?'” said Naomi Woodham, deputy election officer for the Hurunui District Council.
“Even sitting councilors say they get a lot more phone calls than last elections and they get all kinds of questions, like ‘what is your position on this?’
“The candidates say it makes them think, and that must be a good thing.”
But Ms Woodham said some people had said they might not vote because they were “afraid of voting for the wrong candidates”.
As on Thursday, September 22, turnout in the Hurunui district was only 5.29 percent, which was much lower than in previous elections.
Ms Woodham said it could be because people took more time to consider their vote.
But it could also be the lack of a mayoral campaign, in which Mayor Marie Black was re-elected unopposed.
In the western ward, there was only the Environment Canterbury (ECan) election, with no need for elections to the council or the Hanmer Springs Community Board.
There seemed to be a bit more interest in the Eastern Quarter, with elections to the City Council and Cheviot Licensing Trust, as well as Ecan.
The campaign for the Southern campaign was now reduced to eight candidates, and two candidates asked people not to vote for them.
Whatever people’s concerns, Mrs Woodham said there were plenty of good candidates to choose from.
“It’s up to the public to get those great candidates elected and, as (former mayors) Winton Dalley and David Ayers said, do your homework.”
Also for Kaikoura (5.56%) and Waimakariri (6.33%).
Waimakariri District Council deputy election officer Sarah Nichols said she expected returns after the long weekend to increase.
“Everyone should have received their ballot papers by now and the long weekend gives people a chance to view the candidates.
“It’s really hard to say how it will go, you can’t really compare it to last time because there was a mayoral competition with nine candidates.”
But she said there was definitely some interest, given the sheer number of candidates in the three departments.
With fewer New Zealand PO boxes, orange ballot boxes have been installed in several locations across the community.
Waimakariri District Council employees also attended Ohoka Farmers’ Market on Friday morning with an orange ballot box.
■ Former mayors David Ayers (Waimakariri) and Winton Dalley (Hurunui) encouraged voters to get to know their local candidates, in an article in North Canterbury News/Local Democracy Reporting on Sept. 15.
■ Public interest journalism is funded by New Zealand on Air