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Wellington City Council to participate in online voting trial

The Wellington City Council has voted to participate in an online voting trial for next year’s local body elections.

The council voted yes 7-6.

Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown says Wellington City Council has shown it is progressive and willing to try online polling in the Smart Capital.

“The proposed pilot for the 2016 election will be a real time exercise with real candidates and a real result,” she says.

“We use online mechanisms as a way of increasing participation in many council processes, from Smokefree issues to our Long Term Plan, so it makes sense for us to participate in the online voting pilot.”

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, who is also Chairperson for Council’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, says it’s all about increasing participation and creating better accessibility.

“Wellingtonians are the most tech savvy people in the country, so this city is perfect for this trial to take place,” Lester says. “Four out of ten Wellingtonians voted in the last local body elections, so, if this trial means we can get those numbers up then I think it’s well worth exploring further.”

As part of this morning’s vote, the council also agreed to allocate an additional $100,000 to cover the cost of participating in the online voting trial.

Online voting will be an option, not compulsory, alongside postal voting and the ballot box and it will make it easier for people with visual disabilities or mobility issues to vote in local elections, says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“The Department of Internal Affairs must be confident there will be mitigation for any perceived risks of using online polling before they confirm the pilot will proceed,” she explains.

Eight Councils have agreed to take part in the trial for next year’s local body elections – with a confirmation vote still needed to be taken by Dunedin City and Marlborough District Councils.

The government will then decide whether the trial will go ahead. That decision will be made by the end of the year.

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