They said they wanted more people to put themselves forward to stand for Councils and Boards in the elections. They say they want diversity. They said they needed community-minded people to step up and seek election. And by the way, it’ll cost you $200.
That’s $200 for being public-spirited enough to submit yourself to public scrutiny and potential harrassment. It’s called a deposit, but it’s still the entry fee. Never mind any costs for informing people about yourself. This is the cost of just submitting your nomination form. For many candidates, $200 is small change. But for some $200 is a lot of money; many don’t have a spare $200 for something as frivolous as having a go at local government.
I’m fairly sure that all the costs of local government elections are met by central government and the local authorities, in the interests of having a healthy democracy. And a diverse one, except for those who can’t even get in the door because of the entry fee.
Name recognition is an important factor in success in local government elections. A big contributor to name recognition comes from publicity, including advertising. Advertising can be pamphlets, billboards, newspaper ads and lots more. So success is helped by having money to spend on publicity.
There’s a bonus if you are successful. You get your $200 back. Even if you’re not successful but do reasonably well; you get your $200 back. Which is nice. But what of all those who didn’t do very well? Sorry, but for them they have lost their money. As well as their hopes and esteem. It’s like a punishment for not doing well enough.
A deposit is usually a bond for good behaviour. But good or bad behaviour is not the factor here; it’s just about how many votes you don’t get. You can behave quite badly and get enough votes and get your $200 back. You can be a lovely candidate but not get the attention and votes, so your $200 stays in the public purse somewhere. I wonder where it goes to?
In a time when we are pleading with people to stand for election, it might be time to remove the first hurdle?