Nelson’s local elections to be decided by Single Transferable Vote

13/08/2020 5:54am

Nelson City Council has voted to move to a Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting system at the next election in 2022 to support increased diversity and proportional representation.

Mayor Rachel Reese spoke in favour of changing the voting system in Nelson to STV, pointing out that while there was a concerted effort in Nelson at the last election to support greater diversity through encouraging more women candidates to stand, more needed to be done. 

“I think we’ve made some progress around New Zealand but we have not made nearly enough and when I look at the representation of women who are Mayors in New Zealand, yes they are 30% but that’s still not good enough, that doesn’t represent our community. When I consider other elements of diversity, for example Maori representation, then sorry it’s just not working at the moment in terms of that system. I want to see greater diversity and have it continued and sustained, in my view STV is a much fairer system.”  

Nelson City Council will be publishing a public notice to advise the public that Council has decided to change from the FPP electoral system to STV and that the public has a right to demand a poll to change this decision. If the public want to retain FPP they have an opportunity to demand a poll though a petition which must be submitted to Council by February 2021. The poll requires five percent of the voting population sign this petition.  Any poll has to be held prior to May 2021.  

The decision to change to STV will have the added benefit of reducing confusion for Nelsonian electors in 2022, who currently have to navigate FPP for council elections and STV for District Health Board elections. As these elections occur at the same time and are included in the same voting documents, some voters confuse the systems. Data indicates that Nelson and Tasman, who both use FPP and STV, have a higher number of spoiled ballots than Marlborough where STV is used across the board.  

In the STV system voters choose a first preference for one candidate and then have the option of expressing a second and further preference for other candidates. A quota for election is calculated from the number of votes available and the number of positions to be filled. 

Any candidate who has more first preference votes than the quota is elected. If there are not enough candidates with first preference votes that exceed the quota then the second and further preference votes that were associated with candidates who have exceeded the quota are redistributed. 

Any candidates with enough votes to exceed the quota are now elected and the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated. That candidate’s votes are then redistributed according to the second and further preference votes associated with them, and candidates that now exceed the quota are elected.  

This step is repeated until all positions for elected members are filled. 

For the position of Mayor, the process would be the same, except there is only one position to fill, so it would continue until all other candidates are eliminated. 

In the lead up to the 2022 local government election, Nelson City Council will provide an in-depth education campaign on the new system to allow all voters to make informed decisions.