Electoral System Changes and Voter Turnout: Reflections on New Zealand Local Elections

  • Jacky Yaakov Zvulun
Keywords: voter turnout, local elections, electoral systems, local government, proportional representation


Voter turnout in local and general elections is a key element in measuring citizen participation. From 2004, New Zealand local elections were unique in that local councils had the choice of two different electoral systems: plurality majority and proportional representation. We have here the opportunity to study more about New Zealand local elections and changes in electoral systems. This article analyses the impact of the "Single Transferable Vote” electoral system in those councils that adopted it, comparing it to those councils which used "First Past the Post". This article explains how the STV electoral system has not increased voter turnout and was not the cause of low voter turnout in the 2004-2007 local elections. It might, however, offer voters a better way to choose their preferences.

Author Biography

Jacky Yaakov Zvulun
Jacky Zvulun recently completed his PhD at Otago University and currently works at Beit Berl College. He previously held a Postgraduate Publishing Bursary from Otago University and worked as a research assistant for Professor Marian Simms on political leadership in New Zealand and Australia. His areas of research include political participation at the local government, voter turnout, electoral systems, minority representation and New Zealand politics. Address: Jacky Zvulun, PhD, Head of Advanced Studies, Public Administartion and Local Government Program. School of Government &Social Policy , [jackyzvulun@gmail.com].