Sunday, October 13, 2013

Auckland Council Elections 2013 - Voters lost...again.

I've added up all the (preliminary) votes returned for the 20 Auckland Council seats in the 2013 election. My publicly available spreadsheet can be found here. If you're interested, I did the same thing in 2010.

The main features from my point of view:

Un-elected Councillors
  • Auckland now has 3 unelected Councillors: Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart in Howick Ward and Cameron Brewer on Orakei Ward. 
They were acclaimed, as no one stood against them. Thanks to First Past the Post operating the way it does, no one saw any point in wasting their time. Which is interesting because in 2010, 52.5% of votes - a majority - returned were not cast for either of the two acclaimed in Howick Ward in 2013. Had we been using some other voting system, other people may have seen it as worthwhile to give the voters of Howick and Orakei Wards the chance to support someone else. But under First Past the Post...voters in these two wards didn't get that chance. Readers may recall Howick was the ward that elected Jamie-Lee Ross in 2010, only to see him resign soon after to run for parliament in Wellington. Dick Quax polled third in 2010.

Had I realised these two wards wouldn't get to vote for Council at all, I would have run for a seat on one or other - or both, if possible - myself (on a "Democracy Auckland" ticket) just to give voters the chance to have their say. I'll be watching in 2016.

A Majority of Votes Elected No One (Again)
  • 52.52% of all votes returned across Auckland did not elect anyone at all. 
First Past the Post at work again. It splits the vote up among all the candidates and the people with the highest totals are elected, no matter how low their proportion of the total vote may be. In 2010 the percentage of votes returned electing no one was 62.5%. The figure is lower this time around because the centre-right and centre-left blocs put up fewer candidates in order to avoid splitting the vote....a classic strategy under First Past the Post. The result is usually either more limited choice for voters with fewer candidates to choose from, or voters end up voting for a host of people who don't get elected and the people eventually elected may have a relatively tiny share of the total vote. This latter case was the situation in many wards in 2010. For example, Albany Ward elected two people in 2010 who didn't reach even 10% of the vote. Over 80% of all votes returned in 2010 in Albany elected no one. NOTE: I have included blank votes and informal votes in my totals. The number of informals is typically very small (a few dozen), but may represent a protest, so I included. The number of blanks is much larger (relative to informals, sometimes well over 1000) and may also represent a protest..or merely disinterest.But the ballot was returned and counted.  The status of these can be debated. But what can't be debated is that they were not positive votes for the people elected.

Proportion of Votes for Councillors Elected 
  • 1 of the 17 Councillors elected via votes received more than 50% of the vote in their ward
  • 13 of the 17 Councillors elected via votes received less than 40% of the vote in their ward.
  • 10 of the 17 Councillors elected via votes received less than 30% of the vote in their ward.
  • 7 of the 17 Councillors elected via votes received less than 25% of the vote in their ward.
  • 2 of the 17 Councillors elected via votes received less than 20% of the vote in their ward.  
First Past the Post at work again. The vast majority of votes cast were for people other than those elected and let's not lose sight of the other 3 Councillors that no one voted for at all.

Wasted votes by Ward (%-age)
  • Albany - 61.19%
  • Albert-Eden-Roskill -  50.37%
  • Franklin - 51.99%
  • Howick - No vote at all  
  • Manukau - 44.59%
  • Manurewa-Papakura - 41.19%
  • Manugakiekie-Tamaki - 50.33%
  • North Shore - 58.58%
  • Orakei - No vote at all 
  • Rodney - 39.56%
  • Waitakere - 53.23%
  • Waitemata & Gulf - 56.89%
  • Whau - 64.56%

In all but one case (Rodney Ward - one to elect) the percentage of votes wasted is greater than the percentage received by any of the candidates elected. This is First Past the Post at work again. The voting system is a serious failure, in my view, when the result is the number of votes electing no one is the largest pool of all votes cast. What's more, it isn't necessary. There are much better voting systems that would give voters choice and at the same time allow them to elect people they want to represent them.

My Conclusions

Auckland local elections must be moved to STV as soon as possible. The number of wards can remain the same if we increase the number of people on Council. The five old councils had something like 116 people on them. An amalgamated Council should have had something more like 35 people on it, from perhaps 5 or 7 wards (instead of the present 13). The result would be vastly more fair to all voters and would greatly improve the ability of voters to elect the people they vote for.  There would be no unelected Councillors via acclamations under STV. There would be genuine contests with more choice.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Auckland's New Public Transport Network"

Can't wait. This change in bus route organisation is long overdue and will be most welcome.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Phillip Morris, have a little shame....

Cigarette makers, Phillip Morris, are apparently mounting a campaign to defend smoking. They've set up a web site where smokers can share their problems. They've called it "My Opinion Counts".

This is a corporation that makes and sells a product that kills people who buy it if they use it as intended. It is only legal because it is an addiction that used to afflict a huge proportion of society and banning it would have created more problems than any ban would have solved. Instead, the policy has been to educate people as to why smoking is a stupid waste of good money from almost every angle one can think of.

The web site has a contact link where you can give Phillip Morris feedback.

Here is my feedback:

Have a little shame. 

You promote and sell a product that makes people ill. It kills them. 

My father is dying of lung and liver cancer right now. Your "campaign" to defend smoking makes me more than a little sick. 

Not to mention standing next to smokers at bus stops is gag-inducing.....especially on wet days. They simply stink. 

It's their choice to smoke despite the obvious hazards and the fact it makes them ugly and old faster....and dirty in seconds. It isn't against the law to be stupid. 

But I have NO choice about the way they pollute my environment as though they have a right to stink under my nose....and leave their tar smell on everything they touch. Never mind the butts all over the road. I walk 10kms to work each day and there would be barely a metre of gutter that didn't have discarded cigarette butts in it. 

Gross filthy habit....and the people who engage in it these days think the world is their ash tray. 

....and you want "defend" this.    

I'll be writing MPs to communicate my feelings on this matter. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The (parody) Queen has spoken!

This caught my eye on Twitter. Very funny. :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Free speech" should be honest speech

I've been thinking about the media, as I am sometimes known to do. The most recent round of thought was sparked by this blog post by Russell Brown on  In it, Russell looks into how the New Zealand Herald has repeatedly used an audience rating figure for TVNZ7 that is incorrect. Worse, the Herald has ignored attempts to inform it of the error or correct it.

The incorrect information supports the Herald's editorial line that no one watches TVNZ7. This view is less supportable when the real viewer stats are taken into account...and we see that TVNZ7 has at 3 times the viewership the Herald has reported.

So what do you do when the major news source in your town proves - again  - to be 'economical with the truth' when the truth is contrary to their political agenda?

Owning mass media should not be confused with the right to free speech. If you do blur the two, then "free speech" effectively becomes the right of billionaires to spew propaganda at us....and we are powerless and effectively we don't own a voice of comparable magnitude. We can talk all day and no one hears us for all practical purposes. There needs to be a powerful check on abuse by the owners of voices so loud and so powerful they drown out all others.

Media who lie or deliberately mislead (very subtle difference) should be accountable. An outlet that consistently behaves this way should be prevented from owning media, just as we prevent dishonest people from owning pubs, casinos, banks or brothels. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Almost Time to Vote!

It's almost voting day.

I'll be voting Green because they are the only consistently reality-based party with respect for evidence.

I'll be voting to keep MMP because it's the only system that ensures the real majority governs and that I was able to actually elect people I want to represent me.

STV will be my fail-over choice. It's the only proportional alternative.

What will you do?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Copyright, You are Dead to Me.

As of now I do not give a rat's bleeding arse about copyright. It's obviously become a scam allowing corporations to steal from all of us. It's not for me or anyone like me.

I just tried to upload a video I made that was made up of bits of video shot at the Auckland Lantern Festival in February. Amid the thousand people talking in the background someone, somewhere was singing some very bad karaoke.

My camera's mic picked it up for a few seconds (30?) and braindead YouTube laid a copyright infringement claim against my video before it had even finished uploading. 
Fair Use is being trampled completely. These corporations are stealing from us all with impunity. 

I now officially do not give a flying monkey's toss about copyright. These corporations clearly do not care about my rights.

Let's call that even. 
It's over. 

Copyright, you are dead to me.