The real voter turnout in the Northcote by-election was under 40% of the electorate, writes political commentator Bryce Edwards.

THE OFFICIAL preliminary election results of the Northcote by-election show that the National candidate Dan Bidois easily won in the weekend, with 10,147 votes. Out of all those who voted, he won about 51% of the vote. And the runner up, Labour’s Shanan Halbert, got 8,785 votes, or about 44% of the vote.

But what about the fact that there was a low voter turnout. According to the Electoral Commission, voter turnout is estimated to be 43.7%. This figure is based on the numbers that have voted, as a percentage of those enrolled. However, the Electoral Commission and Statistics New Zealand previously estimated that in Northcote there is an eligible voter population of 54,790 (of which about nine per cent are not enrolled). So, when you take that into account, the 19,900 who voted, make up an even smaller “real” voter turnout – which is well under 40%.

It also means that the vote for each candidate as a proportion of all eligible voters in Northcote is somewhat smaller than it might initially appear, since about 35,000 eligible voters choose not to vote – which somewhat overshadows the 10,147 who voted for the winning candidate.

So, if the percentages won by the candidates are roughly re-adjusted to take into account those not voting, then they look somewhat less impressive.

This article was first published by Liberation


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