Story: Electoral systems
Page 7 – Local-authority electoral systems
In the early 2000s New Zealand used four different electoral systems for conducting local-government and other local-authority elections.
This was widely used to elect most mayors, as well as local government councillors representing single-member wards. For example, the first mayor of the Auckland ‘super city’, Len Brown, was elected in October 2010 by first-past-the-post. He won 49.3% of the valid votes cast.
This system was used in the bulk of multi-member ward elections, as well as for most regional-council elections.
The block vote is a first-past-the-post system where electors have as many votes as there are vacancies. If there are enough voters to elect one party’s candidate, and if those voters also vote for their party’s other candidates, then it is likely that all all the vacancies will be filled with the same party’s candidates.
This is illustrated by the results in the Eden-Albert ward in the 2004 Auckland City Council elections. The three candidates running on the City Vision ticket won a total of 44.6% of the votes and won all three of the ward’s seats on the council. The three candidates running for the Citizens and Ratepayers Now group won a total of 30.9% of the votes but gained no seats at all.
Preferential voting is used to elect some mayors – most notably the mayor of Wellington. In the October 2010 mayoral election the incumbent candidate, Kerry Prendergast, won 40.9% of the first preference votes, compared with Celia Wade-Brown’s 34.8%. However, in the absence of a majority, a distribution of preferences was required and Wade-Brown was elected mayor on the fifth count – with 50.2% of the valid votes cast in the election to Prendergast’s 49.8%.
Single transferable voting
Single transferable voting (STV) is used to elect some ward councillors (in cities such as Wellington), and also to elect seven members to each of New Zealand’s district health boards (20 in 2011). Under STV voters rank candidates in their order of preference, as in preferential voting. However, candidates need a certain number of votes to be elected.