Abolish the Ratepayers Roll

Abolition of the Ratepayer Roll for Local Government Elections

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Don’t you have a right to have a say about how your rates are spent?
A: There remains many avenues for non-resident ratepayers to have their say in local politics, but voting is held sacred in democracies. You may own property and have interests in several parliamentary electorates, but you aren’t entitled to multiple votes across these electorates. Why should it be the case for one election but not the other? Councils provide services to their residents, and they should be the leaders in deciding what those services look like.

Q: Isn’t there only a small number of Ratepayer Electors? Why does this matter?
A: With both falling homeownership and voter turnout it’s an issue that is likely to get worse the longer we leave it. The importance of this becomes very clear when we take into account cases like that of WCC in 2019. Andy Foster won the Wellington Mayoralty by 62 votes and there were 219 ratepayer electors. In local elections where every single vote counts, we want to make sure that every vote is fair.

Q: Isn’t electoral law really hard to change?
Labour in Government could do this tomorrow. The legislation that enables the Ratepayer Role is not entrenched and could be changed easily by the government of the day. The ratepayer roll – or the property vote, as it was (more accurately) called then, was briefly abolished by the Labour government in the late 1980s before National reinstated it in 1991. They’ve done it before. They can do it again.

Some more reading

For more background on the ratepayers roll check out this piece by Julienne Molineaux in the Spinoff or their other piece in Briefing Papers.

To the make the most of the vote that you do have check out our policy platform for the 2022 Local Body Elections.

Authorised by Geordie Rogers, geordie@rentersunited.org.nz