BIG NEWS

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Will Kerry be Wellington’s mayor?

While Porirua and the Hutt have new mayors, Nick Leggatt and Ray Wallace respectively - the biggest question on everybody’s lips is will Celia Wade-Brown be Wellington’s new mayor. Currently she is trailing Kerry Prendergast by just 40 votes, and the Council tells me that nearly 1000 special votes will be counted on Monday.

The announcement of the results was woeful.Apparently Dunedin City Council had an announcement on its website that Wellington would not be announcing preliminary results before 6pm, but noone in Wellington knew about this until candidates were phoned this afternoon. The media reported the results before the Council even had the results on its website. Perhaps the council was trying to work out what to say. Under s85 of the Local Electoral Act it had to say something – in fact it had to make announcement of preliminary results. Trouble was, that announcement said that based on preliminary results, Prendergast had been elected.

She hadn’t been elected. She was in the lead, with Wade-Brown equally in the running due to a slim margin. And if Celia Wade-Brown wins about 52% of the specials – under STV – Prendergast won’t be elected. If the margin holds she will be elected.

It was good to see Justin Lester top the Northern Ward, getting more votes than Ngaire Best and Helene Ritchie and ousting Hayley Wain, who will now have to apply for a job. Paul Eagle and Swampy Marsh also got elected, and Rob Goulden got the boot.

Had to laugh when I saw Thomas Morgan’s result. He specialises in coming last in his ward, but he got the lowest vote of everyone in all wards - just 96 votes.

Scoop’s Alastair Thompson thinks that Celia Wade-Brown should demand a full recount of all votes to check the redistribution of mayoral votes.

Finally just a note about STV. It is important to have ranked everyone, particularly candidates you don’t like. Say, in a six candidate ticket with four getting elected, you ranked a candidate a 6 because you couldn’t stand them – and others did that too , but only ranked three other candidates as 1,2, and 3, - and many other did the same thing too with the same candidates - it could well be that the candidates you would have ranked 4th and 5th may well have got fewer votes than your most hated candidate, and therefore may have been eliminated earlier- purely because they weren’t ranked at all and the redistributed votes were primarily among the candidates most ranked in the top three. And if you wanted Kerry Prendergast for Mayor, you would have done well to rank all candidates, putting Celia Wade Brown at the bottom. If you ranked Prendergast at 1 and Wade Brown at 2 instead, with no other rankings, you have merely given the latter more of a chance of being mayor.

And due to the above workings of STV, this is one reason why Celia Wade-Brown may well be mayor after special votes have been counted. In the 2007 election, Kerry Prendergast got 34.9% of first preference votes overall, but only 25.8% of first preference votes on the specials.

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