Sack the Electoral Commission Now
Maori voters may be allowed to swap rolls every election cycle
Prime Minister John Key says he has no objection to an Electoral Commission proposal to allow Maori voters to switch between the Maori roll and the general roll between elections, rather than only at the five-yearly Maori Electoral Option.
Are they serious? The worst electoral turn out in 120 years, and what is the Electoral Commission's response? Some antiquated tinkering to arcane technical elements of electoral law?
* Allow Maori to swap between Maori roll and general roll once every election cycle.
* Make a refusal to file a return a "corrupt practice".
* Hold referenda by postal ballot rather than with a general election.
* Review regulation of electioneering on social media.
* Prohibit party scrutineers wearing party rosettes at polling stations.
* Prohibit ribbons or streamers in a party's colours on cars on election day.
* Allow party scrutineers in advance voting places.
* Prohibit election advertising within 100m of an advance voting place.
* Review law to ensure it provides for interruption of polling by an emergency, such as earthquake.
...allowing party scrutineers in advance voting places and stopping them from wearing rosettes??? That's their suggestions to the worst electoral turn out in 120 years???
Is this a joke? The quality of our democracy has plummeted and the Electoral Commission's response is this?
My own submission to the Justice and Electoral Committee makes the following recommendations...
1: Lower the voting age to 16 alongside civics education classes in School to start the passion for democracy at a younger age. Taxation without representation is that most heinous of high crimes against citizens and taxing 16 and 17 year olds minus their right to say how that tax should be spent is worth expanding the franchise of democracy all on its own, minus the wider social good of connecting the next generation of voters into the responsibilities and rights of voting.
2: Allow any voter to go onto the unpublished electoral roll and make the process as easy as ticking a box. So many of our citizens are on the run from debt collectors or abusive spouses that they refuse to enroll so as to not be detected. Any NZer can go onto the unpublished roll but the Electoral Commission goes out of its way to demand all sorts of reasons for it to occur. If the end point is to make it as easy as possible for citizens to participate, streaming this process and making it as easy as a box tick is a priority.
3: Make the date of the election a Wednesday and make it a public holiday. We complain so much in this country about not having a day we can celebrate as NZers because many people feel anxious about the conflict of Waitangi Day. Why not search for that which binds us and celebrate that? Election Day should be a celebration because we are one of the few privileged nations around the planet that allows political leadership to change hands minus violence and repression. Our exercising of the right to vote peacefully is celebration in itself and making it a mid week public holiday would do more for participation rates than any single thing the Justice and Electoral Select Committee review could endorse.
4: The National Party as part of their tough on crime posturing passed law stripping prisoners of their rights to vote. Removing a prisoner incarcerated for less than 3 years their ability to vote removes any connection a prisoner might have with civil society. The argument is that prisoners who are inside for less than 3 years should be able to vote because the decision of the election will impact them one way or another once they are released within the lifetime of that Government. Stripping prisoners of their right to vote puts us on the opposite side of the European Court of Human Rights who have argued against this type of prisoner flogging. Their argument is that incarceration doesn't remove your human right to vote, and we should look to repeal such knee jerk legislation if we agree universal suffrage is a nobel endeavor.
5: Expand the civics course in schools to immigrant communities and make the course a compulsory part of becoming a NZer so that new citizens know their civic rights and responsibilities.We do our new citizens a terrible disservice by not extending any hand of welcome when they become NZers other than a certificate ceremony. How can we expect them to interact in civil society with all the autonomy citizens have if the history and cultural norms of our political establishment hasn't been explained?
...I would also add to this the banning of political opinion polls in the 6 weeks of the election.
The Electoral Commission are part of the problem if they think their solutions address the political apathy NZ democracy faces.