A more sensible cycle for collecting voter turnout data?

When people are surveyed about how they voted at the last election, they could be answering about different general elections from each other.

Our timing was good for asking Statistics New Zealand and the Electoral Commission about data that fits the Madrid indicator for voter turnout (see Indicator 16, about voter turnout for those aged 65+). Between us, we’ve reached agreement – in principle – that voter turnout data for general elections should be collected when survey respondents will be reporting on whether they turned out for the same election.

After talking it through, staff in all three organisations - our Office, Statistics New Zealand, and the Electoral Commission - considered that surveying voter turnout every six years would be reasonable for measuring this aspect of civic participation as part of the Official Statistics System. It would strike a good balance between the cost of getting the data and the benefit of having more meaningful data.

The Electoral Commission told us that the indicator’s focus on ethnicity was helpful to work that it had in progress. It will find ways to improve the data about ethnicity and how it is reported.

In my view, we've laid the foundations for some sensible improvements just by asking the right questions at the right time for the agencies involved. A good result.