Public submissions on Council electoral system now open

The Invercargill City Council is calling for public submissions on whether it should make the switch to a Single Transferrable Vote (STV) electoral process.

Council is encouraging residents to have their say on how they want to see candidates – including the Mayor, Councillors, and Community Board members – elected in the future.

At the moment, candidates are elected using a First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system.

Submissions are open until 14 June.

Council’s Deputy Electoral Officer Michael Morris said Council was able to determine its preferred electoral process every three years – and 2023 marks the first time it had gone out to the public to see what they think.

“With both the FPP and STV voting systems, there are different factors to consider as residents and Councillors have the discussion together. Put simply, under FPP the candidate with the most votes wins, while STV ensures no votes are wasted,” he said.

Under an STV electoral system, voters rank candidates in their order of preference. Candidates must reach a quota in order to be elected. Votes can be transferred if a voter’s preferred candidate is eliminated or elected with surplus votes, Morris said.

Meanwhile, under an FPP electoral system, the candidate with the most votes wins. Although FPP is very simple, some people have argued that the results of an FPP election may not always reflect the wishes of the majority of voters: a candidate may receive 40 percent of votes, more than any other single candidate, however that means 60 percent of voters did not identify the winner as their preferred candidate, he said.

Fifteen Councils around New Zealand now use the STV electoral process, Morris said.

“Council is really keen to hear what the community thinks. Candidates are obviously elected by members of the public, and it’s important how that process works is informed by what the people of our city see as the fairest way to represent them.”

Residents keen to have their say can make a submission by:

The results of the public consultation process will go back for Council to consider in July, with Councillors set to make a decision the following month.

Any changes to the electoral process will not be applicable to the by-election to fill the vacant Invercargill City Council seat.