Government acts to sort out electoral ‘coin toss’ problem
The Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta says the Government will consider making changes to local electoral legislation before the 2022 elections to fix the problems that have arisen where elections are settled by a coin toss.
The Minister says the recount process in the Murupara- Galatea ward at the October election was difficult for everyone involved and put a great strain on the relationship between the council and the community.
“In my view the swearing in of a newly elected member should, as far as possible, be the final step in the election process, and it should occur only after any disputes about electoral outcomes have been resolved.
“My proposal is that if there is a tied result, there should automatically be a recount. This is what occurs for parliamentary elections. This change would mean that any coin toss would only take place if the District Court confirmed that the result is a tie.
“I will also consider whether an automatic recount should be triggered for elections where the winning margin is very small,” says Hon Nanaia Mahuta.
The Justice Select Committee is currently considering the Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and the 2016 Local Elections. Once the Committee’s recommendations have been tabled in Parliament, the Minister says she will consider whether any other changes should also be a priority for the 2022 local elections.
“The proposed changes will provide everyone with a lot more certainty and avoid the distress when a candidate sworn in as an elected member finds their position revoked through no fault of their own,” says Nanaia Mahuta.