Story: Elections and campaigns

Turnout of voting-age population in general elections, 1928–2017

This graph shows voter turnout as a percentage of the population aged 18 and over. Since a mid-20th-century high, voter participation in general elections has fallen. Although the drop was not as huge as that of political party membership, the downward trend has been persistent. No election since 1984 has seen more than 80% of voters participating, and at the 2011 election voter participation fell below 70% for the first time since the 1880s. However, turnout in 2017 was the highest since 1984.

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Sources: Jack H. Nagel, 'Voter turnout in New Zealand general elections, 1928-1988.' Political Science 40, no.2 (1988): table 1, table 6; Jack Vowles, Susan A. Banducci and Jeffrey A. Karp, 'Forecasting and evaluating the consequences of electoral change in New Zealand.' Acta Politica 41, (2006): 267-284, table 2; Report of the Electoral Commission on the 2011 general election and referendum. Wellington: Electoral Commission, 2012, p. 60.


Source: Elections New Zealand

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How to cite this page:

Bryce Edwards, 'Elections and campaigns - Voter participation and turnout', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 August 2020)

Story by Bryce Edwards, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Jul 2016