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It's election day for councils

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/10/2016

© Keith Molloy/Getty Images A surge of late voting is expected in local body elections that will determine the leadership of towns and cities around New Zealand.

Voting closes at midday on Saturday. The announcement of preliminary results varies but may come within a few hours in some areas.

Local authority elections are held every three years with election day occurring on the second Saturday of October.

Voting is by postal ballot and councils have the choice of two voting systems, first past the post or single transferable vote. Seven councils are using STV elections.

Total turnout in 2013 was 42 per cent and organisers would like it to be above 50 per cent in this election.

It was running at more than 30 per cent in many city areas and was expected to spike higher ahead of the close of voting.

In Wellington Celia Wade-Brown spent her last night as mayor participating in a fundraiser for the homeless that involved sleeping rough. She isn't standing again, ending a career in local body politics of more than 20 years.

The race to replace her is one of the tightest in the country, while in Auckland former Labour cabinet minister Phil Goff is a high profile candidate as is encumbent Lianne Dalziel in Christchurch.

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