Privacy concerns a factor in low voter turnout

  • 28/11/2011

By Ally Mullord

Privacy concerns and lack of information about the unpublished electoral roll could be responsible for this year’s low voter turnout, says a marketing expert.

Saturday’s election saw the lowest voter turnout for New Zealand in 120 years.

Only sixty-eight percent of eligible New Zealanders cast a vote, while roughly 220,000 didn’t even enroll. 

Marketing consultant Noel Ferguson says the low turnout could be attributed to people “on the fringes” not wanting their details public.

“It’s not just one or two odd people who are paranoid,” he says. “There’s a whole bunch of people who live in fear on a daily basis, who just don’t want their whereabouts known to anybody.”

Mr Ferguson says people indebted to credit agencies, loan sharks or the government may be hesitant to enroll.

He says others may fear giving their physical address due to gang connections.

But there is another option – the unpublished roll.

The Electoral Commission’s unpublished roll is available under special circumstance and not made public to any other organisations, including government organisations and local councils.

Mr Ferguson says the second roll isn’t widely publicised and people aren’t aware it’s an option.

Electoral Enrolment Centre (EEC) national manager Murray Wicks says there are conditions around using the unpublished roll.

“[There must be] evidence that the publication of their name on a printed electoral roll could jeopardise the personal safety of themselves or their family,” he says.

Once on the roll, voter’s information doesn’t leave the EEC.

In order to be on the roll, voters must provide police documents such as restraining orders, protection orders or declarations from police.

However, the Chief Registrar of Elections has the final decision, and Mr Wicks says applications can be approved without the supporting documents in some cases.

But Mr Ferguson is concerned that such restrictions turn privacy of information into “a privilege, not a right”.

He says all voters should have the option of the unpublished roll.

Information about the unpublished roll is available each election on the Electoral Commission’s website.

3 News

source: newshub archive