David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has replied on the subject of unbalanced supercity wards, accusing critics of simply having a go at Rodney Hide. I shall oblige and leave the minister of local government out of this, and instead focus on the undemocratic shambles that this new supercity plan is building.
Farrar claims that the grossly disproportionate wards are okay, as we need to be able to make exceptions for some cases for rural areas. I actually agree- my issue is not with the fact that there is a ward with a greater than 10% difference from the average of the Supercity. My issue is that eight of the twelve proposed wards (or twelve of the twenty counselors) are within the unacceptable range. By definition, two thirds of a group cannot all be exceptional cases. Even if this arrangement benefited the left, it would clearly be wrong and necessitate urgent reform. It’s not about who’s winning. It’s about the principle that elections ought to be fair, and votes ought to be as equitable as possible for people living in different areas.
With relatively little deviation from areas of interest, it should be possible to smooth out the differences between the wards much more, and allow the two wards Farrar mentions to be truly exceptional outliers that barely graze that 10% margin, instead of crushing it at 24% and 17% deviations. A 24% outlier can’t even be called an exceptional case- it’s the kind of statistic that smells of gerrymandering. Let’s preserve geographic and social boundaries without making a joke out of local elections, shall we?