Magazine article New Zealand Management

STV-The Next Battleground?

Magazine article New Zealand Management

STV-The Next Battleground?

Article excerpt

As we have discussed previously in this column, a Parliamentary Select Committee has wide ranging powers to inquire into any matter which it considers to be of interest, matters such as the shambles that was the 2004 Local Authority Elections. As a consequence, the Justice and Electoral Committee has announced that it is to hold an inquiry in an attempt to determine what went wrong. At the time of writing, terms of reference were not yet available, nor had submissions been called, simply because the election process had still not been finally completed.

The politicians are not the only ones interested in the subject.

The Auditor-General has agreed to provide assurance regarding the counting of votes to Wellington City Council (in the belief that the issues affecting all outstanding elections are likely to be common across all Councils and District Health Boards). It will seek to ensure that Council, Electionz.com and Datamail have adequate controls in place to guarantee a complete and accurate processing of validly cast votes. The work involves ensuring that the reasons for the initial inability to count all valid votes have been identified and that processes exist to ensure that the STV calculator will effectively count all votes.

One might question why then, if the Auditor-General is already involved, a select committee would seek to tramp down the same path. The answer, in part, is that politicians have a visceral interest in matters that pertain to, or fringe upon, their own profession. However, in this case the interest goes deeper than that.

Almost five years after New Zealand's first MMP election, the question of how we vote politicians into office and how they may or may not be removed remains almost as contentious an issue as it was back then. It is true that howls to jettison MMP in favour of the old 'First Past the Post' system have largely died down, but that does not mean that we have heard the last word on electoral reform, and one of the future battlegrounds will almost certainly be STV. …

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