Increasing numbers of local councils in New Zealand are switching to the single transferable vote (STV) system. An article by Tim Newman, Nelson Reporter (via Stuff), indicates that in “2022 Nelson will be one of 15 councils using the STV system, and one of four adopting it for the first time.”
The Nelson version of STV (which the article indicates is approved but still subject to an appeal process) will be somewhat more complex than I would think necessary.
Under the new model two general wards have been set up, Central and Stoke-Tāhunanui , with four councillors to be elected per ward. For each ward, the population per councillor will be approximately 6400.
Running parallel to the general wards will be the Whakatū Māori Ward, which covers the whole city and will only be eligible for those on the Māori Roll.
One councillor will be elected from this ward, which has a population per councillor of about 3300.
In addition to the wards, there will also three “at-large” councillors representing the whole city. The mayor will also be voted at large.
So if I am understanding this correctly, it will be doubly parallel. For electing the 12 council members there are both districts (wards) and a citywide component in addition to the Maori special district. And all by STV, except maybe the single Maori member (it is not clear if this is by STV (AV) or not). One would think they could simply use STV–either citywide or in districts–with a rule ensuring a minimal number of those elected are Maori. Or, slightly more complex than that, but less than what is now likely to be adopted, two sets of districts–general and Maori–but not three.
The current system seems to be MNTV, but the article is a little confusing on this point. It says:
In previous elections, voting in Nelson has been conducted “at large”, meaning that voters could vote for any of the 12 council candidates standing for election, along with mayoral candidates.
I am taking that to mean the voter had 12 votes and the top 12 were elected, but I wish it was clearer. The adoption of STV is a positive development, even if it has been done with more complex districting than seems necessary.