Clare Sullivan

On Monday 12 September, Clare Sullivan (the WCC Deputy Electoral Officer) spoke to the Club about “STV and the Local Body Elections”. This was a timely reminder to all of us, with the Local Body Elections starting on 16 September.

Clare has worked both for the Christchurch and now Wellington City Councils and has dealt with local body elections for both councils.

Local body elections take place every 3 years. Each council does its own area. Some councils handle the entire election (e.g. Kapiti), but Wellington and much of the South Island use as their provider.

Unlike parliamentary elections, local body elections are still primarily using postal votes. Voting papers should reach voters after Friday 16 September and should arrive within a week of that date. Voting continues till 8 October. Special (booth) votes may be cast for people who will be away over the election period.

Most councils use FPP (first past the post), in this system the person with the highest number of votes is elected. FPP is quicker to give results than STV.

STV, a single transferable vote system, is used by some areas, such as Wellington, Porirua, Dunedin and Palmerston North, to calculate which candidate is finally elected. In this STV system one can select candidates in order of preference, and second and third (and lower) preferences may be added to other candidates’ votes. So the person who would have had the highest number of votes under FPP is not necessarily elected, because second and third choice votes of electors may be added to the votes received by other candidates. To decided who has in fact won under STV an “approved calculator” is used to get a final result, because this is a complex calculation.

An explanation of STV may be found at



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