Voting in local government elections is a joke. It’s difficult to know what the candidates stand for. If you vote for someone from a political party you are just encouraging a hack to begin a career of greed and entitlement. Local government is seen as political kinder. They don’t care about local issues, and tend to focus more on state or national issues that local government is not responsible for.
But the candidates with party associations tend to be better organised and better at promoting themselves compared to independents, some of whom are genuinely interested in doing good at the local level, who are often hopeless amateurs who attract no recognition and no chance of being elected. Their election materials are full of spelling and grammatical mistakes.
The City of Yarra and the Victorian Electoral Commission provide incomplete and inadequate information about candidates. The City of Yarra has a page on their website about the election that points to the VEC, which in turn has separate pages and multiple PDF downloads containing information about the candidates and their contact details.
After the last elections in 2012 the VEC acknowledged that it knew many voters didn’t know who to vote for because the candidates provided little or no information about themselves or their agendas. Only 52% of people voted in the City of Yarra in 2012.
So why isn’t the VEC encouraging candidates to supply their social media details? Why isn’t the City of Yarra listing them all in an equal and objective manner? Why are they so negligent in informing the electorate about the candidates? The VEC is hopelessly out of date and ineffectual in managing local government elections.
Why is it like this? Are the numbers too small for anyone to bother? Now that there’s no local newspapers, there’s a void of opportunities for candidates to get exposure. They can do it themselves via social media, and some do it well, including representatives of the Greens, ALP and Socialists, but the rest are useless.
Councillors fight ideological battles with each other in council to the detriment of managing pragmatic local issues and fail to hold unelected council officers to account for their often stupid decision making. No wonder people can’t be bothered voting. It’s a waste of time and has no obvious consequence.