A turnout of just three in four eligible voters at this year’s council elections is cause for a “long hard look” at the electoral process, the Municipal Association of Victoria says.
Voter turnout was down by just under one per cent in Ballarat since 2012 and by 3.33 per cent in Hepburn in this year’s local government election, figures which put both municipalities “absolutely within the ballpark of the norm” in Victoria, MAV chief Rob Spence said.
MAV will meet Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins next week.
“I wasn’t overwhelmed with the level of interest from the community which I think is something we need to work on in the next four years. I want to talk … about whether we take a long hard look at how this election has gone and drill down into it,” Mr Spence said.
“We’re looking at the local government act but ... let’s look and see if we’ve got the electoral bit right, is there a way we can improve the model and allow the citizen to understand more effectively who's standing and what they represent.”
Ballarat had a voter turn out of 75.82 per cent with 61,096 votes cast, down from 76.74 per cent in 2012. North ward had the highest voter turnout, with 20,869 votes cast.
Hepburn’s voter turnout was 76.18 per cent, with 7,949 votes cast.
Moorabool had a 0.05 per cent increase in voter turnout, with a turnout of 71.89 per cent and 16,271 votes cast.
Outer metropolitan and regional areas have historically had a higher voter turn out than Melbourne, which last election dropped to 68.9 per cent, compared to a 76.32 per cent turnout outside of metropolitan municipalities. Port Phillip in inner Melbourne had one of the lowest turnouts at 48.88 per cent.
A legislative change which disallowed candidates from putting how to vote cards in Victorian Electoral Commission packs for the first time this year could have “made it harder for the citizen” to cast their vote, Mr Spence said.
The intent of the change to limit the number of so-called dummy candidates had proved a “furphy”, with a record number of candidates running for councils, he said.
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