Only 43.9% vote in referendum

Preliminary results of the referendum on the partial float of a few SOEs show:

2013 Citizens Initiated Referendum Preliminary Result


Number of Votes Received

Percentage of Total Valid Votes

For the response




For the response




Informal votes*



Total valid votes



Voter turnout on the basis of the preliminary result is 43.9%.  Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes cast of 1,333,402 (being total valid and invalid votes) as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 21 November 2013 (3,037,405).

The number of invalid votes cast was 1,062 or 0.08% of total votes cast.  Invalid votes are excluded from the count and include, for example, voting papers that cannot be processed because the voter has made the QR Code unreadable, or voting papers cancelled as a result of replacement voting papers being issued.

The politicians who initiated the referendum will say they got nearly 67% support for opposing the partial sales.

But 67% of just 43.9% of eligible voters is no victory. It’s just an expensive exercise in futility.

All they’ve done is waste money and reinforce that citizens’ – or politicians’ – initiated referenda have had their day.


11 Responses to Only 43.9% vote in referendum

  1. Arguably the nays may thus be all those who feel negative and thus the real result is really around 70% who agree with govt or do not care! thus the nays are a minority and losers


  2. JLG says:

    I’m in favour of democracy as much as anyone, but I’m not sure that it makes a lot of sense for a decision on an economic issue like this to be made by the public via referendum, since the average voter cannot be expected to understand all the issues that surround the question of selling public assets.


  3. TraceyS says:

    I worked out 29.47% of elibible voters voted “no” (895,322 no votes divided by 3,037,405 eligible voters). Did I get it wrong?

    Numbers can be such tricky things on a Friday evening!


  4. homepaddock says:

    JLG – absolutely – referenda are very blunt instruments, ask black and white questions for which answers are many shades of grey.

    Tracey – I try not to do numbers at any time of the day or week.

    But an interesting post on Stat Chat:

    I would have expected people who disapproved of asset sales to be more likely to vote, since the referendum was initiated by people who disapproved of asset sales. In one way the electorate-level preliminary results supporting that expectation: the “No” vote had a majority essentially everywhere. But on the other hand, at the electorate level, electorates with a higher response rate had a lower “No” vote. As with the overall result, you could spin this either way, but I still think it’s interesting.


  5. Andrei says:

    Whether you like it or not this is a big black eye for National and for politicians in general.

    National will ignore the referendum of course, just as they did with the anti smacking referendum where the precedent was set that referendums mean diddly to the arrogant SOBs who inhabit the halls of power.

    I voted of course because I believed and believe still that the asset sales program was put on the table during the last election campaign and a mandate was given for it and that this is how democracy is supposed to work.


  6. TraceyS says:

    That is an interesting observation.

    Norman wanted more than 50% of eligible voters to vote in the referendum to claim a majority result; “…we need over half of all voters to have sent their ballot by the end of the week.”

    It hasn’t quite got there, but I suppose it might reach 50% when all votes are counted.

    Obviously, though, not all of the 50% were going to vote “no”.

    But the Green Party was trying hard to tell people how to vote:

    “The most important thing you can do is vote NO if you haven’t already done so yet. So pick up your ballot off the kitchen table and get it in the post-box today.”


    If there’s one thing I really value, it’s being able to make up my own mind about things.


  7. TraceyS says:

    I too voted for democracy.

    I’m glad some of us can uphold these principles, even if we are a minority.


  8. Judge Holden says:

    So maybe 15% of eligible voters actually came out to endorse the government’s flag ship policy of hocking off assets at inflated prices to Kiwi mums and dads. An appalling result for the Nats (almost as bad as the botched sales themselves). They’re spinning like crazy, but you can’t escape the facts.


  9. Andrei says:

    All that has happened is that the contempt the average joe has for politicians is deepened.

    This has been an expensive exercise in political posturing over an issue that quite frankly most people don’t give a damn about.

    The idiots who support Labour/Green who have an IQ lower than a carrot in most cases might get to crow a bit but next election not one extra vote will have been won by them.

    Last election turn out was low,, the better part of the political class did a little soul searching over this.

    Well next election the turn out will be even lower, I predict because voting in this country has become an exercise in pointlessness as the vapid political elite supported by fools like you drive our brightest and best to greener pastures


  10. Judge Holden says:

    “voting in this country has become an exercise in pointlessness”

    Unlike in Russia, where vote for mighty topless horsey-riding manly-man Putin is expression of love, right Andrei? Get real eh?

    “fools like you drive our brightest and best to greener pastures”

    Wanna lift to the airport, Einstein?


  11. Armchair Critic says:

    National chose the method (postal ballot) and timing quite deliberately. One of the reasons it was held in December was to minimize the turnout.
    There’s not many ways that anyone of a blue hue can frame this in their favour; it’s a poor result and makes that “we have a mandate” look susceptible to a reply of “you won’t for much longer”. And that’s the kind alternative to “you never did” or “you don’t any more”, both of which are arguable.


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