Age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and declining voter turnout in Auckland’s local elections

Weiyi Zhang
Auckland Council Democracy Services
Publication date:

Voter turnout in Auckland‟s triennial local elections has steadily declined. In 2013, Auckland turnout fell from 51 per cent to 36 per cent (national average = 41.3%)

This report aims to answer four research questions:

Why are younger Aucklanders less likely to vote?

Why are less-educated Aucklanders less likely to vote?

Why are Asian Aucklanders less likely to vote?

What are the theoretical and practical implications of these findings?

Theories of political participation

Theories have aimed to explain participation at micro and macro-levels.
Explanations of why people participate in politics vary from micro-level variables (e.g. correlation between education and turnout) to macro-level variables (e.g. impact on legal institutions on turnout).


The analysis explains declining turnout in Auckland using secondary literature, and domestic and international case studies.
Research on youth non-voting suggests that young people tend to be less informed and knowledgeable about politics, and face administrative barriers.
Research on socioeconomic status suggests that higher education generally equals greater participation due to increased knowledge/interest in politics.
Research on Asian voting behaviour suggests that lack of knowledge, as well as lack of cultural integration with other ethnic groups, may result in lower levels of turnout among Asians.

Last updated: 2017-03-10