Thanks to Jean Drage who presented a big picture view of local democracy, and the challenges in getting people involved. This video is worth watching.
Some factors that impact voter engagement
- candidates with a high local profile or controversial issues (these are not easily, nor necessarily appropriately, controlled by local bodies)
- Smaller numbers of constituents per Councillor has larger engagement
- Confusion over the different voting system – stv and ftp – do we tick or number or will be we discounted if we do the wrong thing.
- engaging constituents for 3 years instead of 3 weeks
- Having two candidates vs one encourages diversity
- Citizen Assemblies with power to determine funding and better access to information on candidates are easily and appropriately within local body purview.
- The amount of information provided about candidates is a key
- Advertising information such as candidate forums – Wellington Council encouraged all entities holding forums to list the details on the Council website. Hamilton Council funded a professionally run mayoral forum which was also live streamed.
One of the things Jean pointed out is that CEOs have recently been given greater responsibility in relation to encouraging local Democracy. I am involved with a group who is going to write to the CEOs to recommend having a forum on voter engagement and how we can turn this around in the next election.