Local councils affect how we live our day-to-day lives. Despite this, there has been an ongoing decline in voter participation when it comes to local body elections. In 2013, New Zealand’s national voter turnout for mayoral elections dropped to 41%, with young people (18–24) even lower at 37%. Count those not enrolled and the numbers are even worse. There are three main reasons why young people aren’t engaged in deciding who represents us in our towns and cities; they may not have enough information on the candidates, they may underestimate the importance and relevance of local government, or they may simply be unaware of the elections themselves. VoteLocal was conceived to lower these barriers, and get young New Zealanders voting local.
VoteLocal is a game-based questionnaire that guides people towards the mayoral candidate whose policies and ideals best match up with their own. It provides information about the candidates and what they stand for, informs users about what councils do, and debunks the assumption that they aren’t relevant. We hope VoteLocal will spark conversations about local politics with friends and family.
The questionnaire is simple and easy to pick up; respond to the first 12 questions by indicating how you would prioritise competing statements. This asks you to balance demands and interests for resources, just as councils need to do everyday.
The last five questions ask you to indicate how much you agree — or disagree — with each of the issue statements provided. These are used as a way to gauge your views on specific issues relevant to your region.
For these last five questions, you are asked to rank the priority of these issues. This helps provide results that are most relevant to you.
Finally, we ask a couple of (anonymous) general questions. These help us make sense of the results!
When you’re done answering, VoteLocal will compare your data with the candidate’s. This will produce the three candidates who are most compatible to you. The candidates that are revealed are only recommendations — dig deeper!
In addition to the top three best match suggestions, you can also scroll down and see more detailed results for all of the candidates, and see where you’re positioned relative to each candidate on all the questions answered.
All candidates that have been officially nominated to their respective mayoral races were invited to provide their own responses to the questions. These responses are what VoteLocal uses to compare and measure compatibility with users of the tool.
VoteLocal’s questions draw off extensive research into the literature exploring voter participation, with special consideration to that published by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ). The questions have been designed alongside leading political studies experts from Massey and Victoria universities, and with the help of the team at UMR NZ.
All the mayoral candidates in Auckland, Palmerston North, and Wellington who responded to our invitation to participate by 28 August 2016, and subsequently answered our question pack – their responses inform the algorithm that underpins the game.
What did you think of VoteLocal? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.
VoteLocal is an initiative of the Design+Democracy Project, a research unit established within Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, and is made in collaboration with the great folks at Springload.
We believe that the issue of low voter turnout is not only the responsibility of governments or councils — it is one that we all share as citizens. The Design+Democracy Project reckons design research can make a real contribution.
Our core team consists of Karl Kane, Tim Parkin, and Thomas Le Bas. The Springload team of Josh Barr, Bron Thomson, Vincent Audebert, Loïc Teixeira, and Charlotte Cami made things real — équipe de grâce! The beautiful illustrations were realised by Chloe Lassen. Thanks goes to an amazing number of wonderful people who helped make this initiative possible, especially: Claire Robinson, Sue Elliott, Richard McMillan, John (Neo) Anderson, Alexandra Hollis, Stephen Mills and the team at UMR, Jack Vowles, and Andy Asquith.