The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Dunedin based national political commentator Bryce Edwards wrote a very disparaging column about the dismal turnout in local body elections in the NZ Herald – Dr Bryce Edwards: Cancel the elections and start again?

Authorities keep telling us of our duty to vote in the local government elections. They haven’t made a very compelling case, and so far the public have responded to this hectoring with an electoral shrug of the shoulders. Voter turnout across the country looks to be the lowest in living memory. Perhaps that’s a good thing. It sends a very strong message that the system is broken.

Why should voters take the election seriously when the authorities themselves don’t?

Edwards suggested that boycotts and a non-vote of no confidence might be appropriate.

In other countries there would be calls for boycotts. In fact there’s probably a case for cancelling this election and starting again.

We’re always being patronised with the cliché that “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”. That’s never made sense, but for this current dysfunctional election, it’s perhaps more the case that “if you do choose to vote, then you’re complicit in propping up this broken system”.

That was on Sunday. Here is a chart of voter returns for Dunedin.

Note the timing of a dramatic upsurge in votes – about the time the weekend’s voting will have made it’s way through the post to the vote counters.

Voting returns Oct 10Sunday was 6-Oct.

Could that be called The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Edwards favours political party involvement in local body elections, he prefers presidential style national politics to strong local political action. I’m much more in favour of localism and have been promoting local involvement and engagement.

At the same time Edwards was suggesting voting boycotts I posted Why vote? (5-Oct) and Dunedin needs growth and positive change – vote for it! (6-Oct) and Time to vote for Your Dunedin (7-Oct) and Effective Dunedin protest vote (8-Oct).

Note when the voting surge happened.

Did either of us affect the voter surge? I doubt it, but I’m an opportunist for making points.

I’m going to have to prove my case for far better local democracy and doing democracy better in Dunedin during the coming local body term. I’m up for it.

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