September 27, 2020

Hamilton Council switches to new Single Transferable Voting

Hamilton’s Mayor and Councillors will now be elected under the new Single Transferable Voting (STV) system, marking the end of the city’s use of First Past the Post (FPP) system for over 140 years.

The elected members of the Council today decided to switch from FPP to using STV for the 2022 and 2025 elections.

The change means that voters will rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than ticking the candidates they are voting for.

Elected Members had the option to keep FPP, switch to STV, or conduct a formal poll of the city’s voters, either before or as part of the 2022 elections.

Seven members of the community spoke in public forum, with five supporting the switch to STV.

The results of a community survey run by the Council from 17 June to 17 July, also showed that a majority of respondents favoured using STV.

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Overall, 726 respondents (78.1%) wanted to switch to STV and 202 (21.9%) preferred to keep using FPP.

Mayor Paula Southgate said the decision to switch reflects the views of the city residents.

“We asked the community which system they thought is best for our city, they told us they wanted STV, and Elected Members have delivered on that,” she said.

“For me, this decision was about the fairness of STV over the simplicity of FPP. It’s ridiculous that a councillor can be elected based on the toss of a coin, which happens if two candidates get the same number of votes under FPP”.

Governance Manager Becca Brooke said the result is “a significant moment in Hamilton’s local government history”.

“Hamilton has used FPP for more than 140 years, but there was obviously a desire for change to a more proportional voting system,” she said.

In the 2019 elections, 67 of the 78 local authorities in New Zealand used FPP.