A serial election campaigner will contest the Tauranga seat in September's General Election to give voice to the 35 per cent of voters who don't exercise their right.
He's Rusty Kane, who's concerned the election system puts the parties first, the country second and the people last.
“We are disillusioned with MMP – short for the Mixed Member Proportional voting system – which we were told would be better for the people,” says Rusty.
“But MMP is all about the political parties, their power and their representatives and not about us at all.
“And for this reason many people wonder: ‘What's the point?' My vote doesn't count, it doesn't change anything.”
Rusty belongs to the People's Choice Party, a ginger group set up to advocate for small groups and individuals. “But it's not about winning seats,” says Rusty. He will be standing as an independent this election – and he doesn't expect to unseat current Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.
“You may vote for a candidate or party for their policies. But after election night it all changes and those policies are watered down and another party – who you didn't vote for, whose candidates, policies and philosophies you dislike – get incorporated into your party of choice.”
And, says Rusty, we have a situation where the major party leaders – National, Labour and Greens – are all list MPs put in by the parties and not the voters. “So they don't even have the confidence of the electorate. Another good reason why people are fed up.”
Rusty says a vote not cast will be a vote for him. “Vote for me as a protest against the political MMP system and a vote for change.
“But if you don't vote, or don't care to vote, I understand and you already agree with me by not voting.”
But he's still encouraging people to vote. “They need to be empowered, inspired and have good reason to vote and not be disenfranchised by a disempowering political system.”
Rusty wants MMP replaced by legislative referendums like in Switzerland or the Single Transferable Vote.
Rusty has stood unsuccessfully in several general elections since 2000.