VoteLocal is an online tool to help young New Zealanders engage in local elections. It is a game-like questionnaire that guides voters towards the mayoral candidate whose policies and ideals best match up with their own. It provides information directly from the candidates about what they stand for, informs users about what councils do, and debunks any assumptions that they aren’t relevant. Designed with and for 18–24 year olds, VoteLocal sparks conversations about local politics with friends and family. For 2016, VoteLocal focuses on the mayoral races in Auckland, Palmerston North, and Wellington.
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 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 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.
After every question you answer, a piece is added to your very own cityscape—a fun incentive to continue answering questions.
The last five questions ask you to indicate how much you agree, or disagree, with each of the issue statements provided. These are used to gauge your views on specific issues relevant to your city.
For these last five questions, you are also invited to rate the priority of these issues. VoteLocal takes this into account when calculating your results.
Finally, we ask a couple of (anonymous) general questions. These help us make sense of the results and how people interacted with VoteLocal.
When you’re done answering, VoteLocal will compare your data with the candidate’s, revealing a top three matches. The candidates that are revealed are only recommendations, but you can find out more about them through a small bio and links to their site and social media.