WCC Election – Vote like a Pro; Tips on choosing your candidates and voting

Here’s your public service announcement for Friday before we move onto a further analysis of candidates, some random thoughts on voting in the local body elections.

Only vote for those you want to see in Council

Loki clearly designed the STV system. It’s complicated, full of trickery, and has a devilish counting system built-in that has all the characteristics of the labyrinth.

In short, you only want to vote for candidates that you want to see in Council, do not be tempted to rank all candidates on your form. Only number, in ranked order, the candidates that you’d like to see forming our new Council. Ranking other candidates can see votes transferred to people you didn’t want to vote for at all. I know, right?


Voting for Party Backed Candidates

Candidates come in two flavours. Independent, or Party Backed.

Independents are just that, or should be, they have no affiliation to a central political party and are generally better equipped to represent their communities. They are not led by central party policy.

Party Backed candidates are backed by a central political party. For example, the Labour Party is running five candidates in the WCC election plus the Mayor. The Green Party if also running candidates.

Now, there is nothing wrong with voting for a Party Backed candidate, however; you need to realise that they are at the whim of the Party, not the community.

In other words, the central Party will tell them how to vote, what policies to adopt, and probably manage most of their communications. If you are a central Party supporter and you’re happy for decisions to be made their, rather than community level, then vote away for Party Backed candidates.

In Wellington, Labour and the Greens are trying very hard to get a range of candidates onto the Council, plus the Mayor. If they can get that majority, then all the independents have no voice so Labour and the Greens can dictate policy to the city via their Council puppets.

Your choice.

Buses are not something that local Councillors can fix.

It is my observation that many candidates are claiming they can fix the bus situation. This is entirely untrue and very naughty campaigning. They are appealing to a misconception that the WCC has control over the public transport system through popular politicking to grab your vote.

They can’t fix it, have no control, and while they can influence it, they can’t change it. Don’t believe the hype. Voting for Party Puppets won’t help, because Central Government has refused to get involved in the issue.

What you can do is vote for your Greater Wellington Regional Council candidates who can influence the bus issue, and that is where the debate should be occurring.

When you strip out the bus issue, you are left with a lot of candidates with no other policy. They’re not worth casting a vote for. I’d also be very cautious over any promises around LGWN for the same reasons. The WCC has very little control (who does, JAG?) over that process at all and Central Government are probably keeping their powder dry to pork barrel transport at next year’s general election.

Pull out buses and LGWM from candidate promises.

Dream, Build, or Maintain?

Candidates, in fact, most people, come in three flavours when they are working.

There are dreamers, visionaries, strategic thinkers that often come up with long-term ideas for a city, such as an airport extension, convention centre, monorails, and other fancy such ideas.

We need dreamers otherwise, our city won’t evolve.

Then there are builders. Those that turn plans into reality. They get shit done.

The there are maintainers. Those that see a 70% plus increase in rates looming in the next five years, a dead heart of the city, creaking infrastructure, all the maintenance requirements of a complex town, and move to reduce cost while getting the basics right.

Ask yourself. Is it time to dream? Time to build? Or time to deal with the basics? Then, look at your candidate, are they dreamers, builders, or maintainers?


Given that we can’t afford LGWN right now, which is ok, because no one can figure out what it is anyway, and we have mounting debt, massively rising rates, and core issues that are not being funded, ask yourself how a candidate is actually going to make something happen.

This particularly relates to the Mayoral candidates.

Pork Barreling is “the utilisation of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes” or the promise thereof.

So when you read candidate promises look for “how” they are going to achieve it and how we are going to afford it, as opposed to believing the hype.

Don’t forget candidates past performance

Candidates running for re-election often carry portfolios for which they are responsible over the triennium.

Here’s a list.

When considering candidates, ask yourself, did they help make things better or worse in the last three years? Who is in charge of transport for example? Is transport better or worse now? How about housing?

Non-performers should not be allowed to forget their performance record over the past three years and make promises anew in election times without being held to account.

New candidates should hold incumbents to account.

6 thoughts on “WCC Election – Vote like a Pro; Tips on choosing your candidates and voting

    1. There is a big difference between a) being a party member and subject to rules of, including voting in line, b) being funded (which will be transparent), and c) being endorsed, which often the candidate has no control over. I’m not seeing National Party Members running in this election. Nor New Zealand First (and they have in the past.)


  1. “[…], do not be tempted to rank all candidates on your form. Only number, in ranked order, the candidates that you’d like to see forming our new Council. Ranking other candidates can see votes transferred to people you didn’t want to vote for at all. I know, right?”

    This is both incorrect and bad advice; it reveals a basic misunderstanding of how STV works.

    This is what you could/should have said: “Given that later preferences are never activated until earlier preference-candidates have either been elected, or excluded from the count, it is perfectly safe to successively rank-order as many candidates as you are able to, anywhere from just one, to as many candidates as there are standing for election.”

    For example, take an election where seven candidates are standing. Sure, I can rank-order just three candidates, if they are the only three that *I* consider to be worthy of election, but what if only one of them is elected (and the other two are excluded from the count)? There are still two seats to fill, but I will now have no say in who will fill them. That means, I have now denied myself the opportunity to help obtain for myself the least-worst outcome.

    Of the four hopeful candidates remaining in the count, I might prefer D and B to E and G, but I cannot help D and B defeat E and G if I don’t rank-order them ahead of E and G. If I were to take your advice and not rank-order D and B, I would, in effect, be helping E and G to fill the second and third seats, thereby ensuring for myself a worse outcome than might otherwise have been possible.

    In addition, under NZSTV, the quota for election is determined using the following formula: q = (v − vnt) ÷ (n + 1) + 0.000 000 001, where v is the number of valid votes, vnt is the number of non-transferable votes (that have dropped out of the count), and n is the number of seats being filled.

    For example, if there are 12,000 votes cast in a three-seat ward, the initial quota for election is 12,000/4 = 3,000, plus that one-billionth of a vote = 3,000.000000001. Only three candidates can each attain that many votes, the remaining 2,999.999999997 votes being insufficient to elect a fourth candidate.

    If, at some point in the count, 400 votes have become non-transferable, because some voters rank-ordered only, say, two or three candidates, the new quota for election would be 11,600/4 = 2,900.000000001, which still only three candidates can each attain.

    How hard is that?


      1. Don’t worry, WQ. All is not lost.

        As it happens, I have written several articles about STV that may be of interest/use to your readers. They can be found here: https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/in-defence-of-stv-2/, then scroll down to the bottom of the article ‘In defence of STV’.

        I would particularly draw the attention of your readers to the third article, which gives a straightforward explanation of how the votes in multi-seat NZ STV elections are counted;, and, also, to page 3, where it explains how voters can work out how their vote was used. NB. Excluded candidates have a ‘keep value’ of 0.0; elected candidates have a ‘keep value’ greater than 0.0, but less than 1.0; and the last-elected candidate and the runner-up candidate have a ‘keep value’ of 1.0.


  2. The advice about how to vote in STV is incompetent.
    While it is not compulsory to rank all candidates, later ranking cannot under any circumstance harm the chances of people ranked higher than them.
    It is an especially good idea to rank everyone if there is one candidate you really don’t want elected (you should rank that person last). If you leave some candidates unranked, that is your choice, but it may mean that the election is decided by the votes of people who ranked everyone, and your decision to not say which of two candidates you prefer will mean that if the final result comes down to one of them or the other, your voice won’t be heard.

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