Low number of Cook Islands voters sets a new record

RAROTONGA, 19 JUNE 2018 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) — While there are still a number of special and postal votes that have yet to be counted, this year’s general election looks set to make history with the lowest voter turnout the Cook Islands has yet seen, going right back to the very first election in 1965.

A total of 7516 people turned out to vote around the Cook Islands on Thursday out of a total voter population of 10,917, putting voter turnout at 68.8 per cent.

That’s 12.3 per cent less than the previous voter turnout low of 81.1 per cent, which occurred at the last general election in 2014.

And even with special and postal votes added in it will still be the lowest voter turnout in Cook Islands history.

Voter turnout at the general elections has been on a downward trend since 2006, dropping from 86.7 per cent to 82.0 per cent in 2010 and 81.1 per cent in 2014.

Turnout at the country’s first two elections in 1965 and 1968 was 93.9 and 95.6 per cent respectively.

This year it was the Rarotonga electorates that contributed most towards the low number of voters with almost 3000 eligible voters, some 35.1 per cent of the island’s total voter population, choosing not to vote.

The Takuvaine-Tutakimoa electorate saw the country’s lowest voter turnout overall at 52.4 per cent, with 371 of 780 eligible voters choosing not to vote. By way of comparison, CIP candidate Mark Brown won the electorate with 265 votes.

At the other end of the scale, the southern group electorate of Ivirua on Mangaia had the highest voter turnout on 94.4 per cent, with only five people choosing not to vote.

On average the northern group islands had the best voter turnout with 86.8 per cent, compared to 80.3 per cent for the southern islands and 64.9 per cent for Rarotonga.

The low voter turnout across the Cook Islands as a whole is in keeping with a recent poll conducted by CINews, in which 28 per cent of respondents said they were “not sure” about who they thought should lead the country. A total of 31 per cent said they either didn’t support any of the major political parties or weren’t sure who they supported.

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