Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: 14 Pages of Democracy

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Judge Adams's initial decision, noting how the vote count changed is less cool, but is here for all you completists :0)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Very good! It is a joy to see just how much care has been taken in trying to work out and respect voters' intentions. The contrast with the hanging chads episode is remarkable.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Heh.

    "My favourite was the voter who emphasised their tick for Carmel Sepuloni by drawing a little orange heart in the rectangle containing her name."

    What a very human and readable judgement - they're not all like that, not by a wide margin.

    Edit: Actually, that was fun to read and, if you understand the judicial manner of expression, full of wry jokes, usually about himself.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    Thanks Graeme, interesting read. Paragraph 15 caught my attention:

    One table is dealing with a very small polling place. Within the first half-hour I discover that seven votes had been miscounted in the official count as Sepuloni votes when there should have been three to Bennett, three to Tolleestrup (Green), and one to Bradford (Mana). This alone would reduce the margin to one vote. Scrutineers on both sides are naturally affected by this event but it proves to have been exceptional.

    I took an implication from that that there may have been some malice/corruption during the original count on the part of those doing the counting, which is very disappointing if true. Aren't there meant to be party scrutineers during the counts to catch this sort of thing, or does that not always happen at the smaller polling places?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 439 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Guerin,

    Ta - a very good read

    Welington • Since Nov 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to izogi,

    Aren't there meant to be party scrutineers during the counts to catch this sort of thing, or does that not always happen at the smaller polling places?

    There were no scrutineers present for the count at our quite-sizeable polling booth.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4379 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to izogi,

    I took an implication from that that there may have been some malice/corruption during the original count on the part of those doing the counting, which is very disappointing if true

    I didn't take that implication. Cock-up is a much easier explanation than conspiracy.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to nzlemming,

    +1 occams razor there lemming

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to izogi,

    Aren’t there meant to be party scrutineers during the counts to catch this sort of thing, or does that not always happen at the smaller polling places?

    The latter, because they are volunteers after all and it’s simply fanciful to presume any party can supply scrutineers for every booth. I’d also point out that scrutineers are just that – they’re severely (and properly) restricted in how they can respond to situations like that.

    I took an implication from that that there may have been some malice/corruption during the original count on the part of those doing the counting, which is very disappointing if true.

    Fuck "disappointing", I'd be calling for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. But I suspect the more plausible explanation is scrutineers, who actually have to be extremely careful not to act in a way that could be seen as interfering with the count, being rather unfocused after a long day.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    The latter, because they are volunteers after all and it’s simply fanciful to presume any party can supply scrutineers for every booth. I’d also point out that scrutineers are just that – they’re severely (and properly) restricted in how they can respond to situations like that.

    The vote-counting in the polling booth on election night (such as Emma was involved with) wasn't the one that was wrong. On election night, the ballots are taken to the returning officer, who conducts the official count (in a manner probably not all that unlike occurred here). It was that official count that was wrong. The election night count is just so we all kinda know what happened before we go to bed, it doesn't mean anything.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Maud Cahill,

    Reading [21] of this decision worries me. I made a special vote, voting in advance in my own electorate but was not required to make a declaration, or sign anything. I noted this because last election I remember making a declaration.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Deborah,

    Attachment

    The contrast with the hanging chads episode is remarkable.

    The thought of looking through the back of a voting paper with it held up to the light doesn't seem to you to be the New Zealand equivalent of the famous photo of the Florida election official holding up a ballot to the light?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    That looks scarily like David Farrar on a bad day ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth, in reply to Maud Cahill,

    Maud, if you made an 'advance vote' in 2008 and 2011, then in 2008 you had to make a declaration, but not so in 2011.

    An advance vote was as of right in 2011.

    Somewhat different from a special declaration vote.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I am grateful to Judge Adams for the detail he has gone into in his decisions. Very very useful.

    Will be reading and inwardly digesting over the next day.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    The prospect of Labour underr-taking an electoratal petition against Bennett was discussed on RNZ this afternoon and someone made two interesting observations.

    One was that it'll cost an estimated $100,000; Labour isn't cash-rich at present and if Bennett wins, it'll just be money down the drain.

    The other was that doing so would make Labour look bad to the public; they should quit whining about the result, take it on the chin and stop being sore losers.

    It's also been observed that if Labour won, it'd only have a short-term effect anyway as Bennett would be next cab off the rank when Lockwood Smith high-tails it to London.

    I appreciate the legal and constitutional aspects of this case, but in terms of the real politic aspect, Labour should just say to themselves "too bad" and not bother with it.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 636 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    [2.] "The right to vote is a precious right. Every voter who has been issued with a voting paper wields the same voting power as any other voter."

    Civics 101.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1510 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ross Mason,

    So, where the fuck were the other million of us?
    Squatting at home, becoming further & further uninvolved?
    THIS is the part I cannot understand-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Conrad Lake,

    Interesting reading.. If only most of second year law read like that. Instead they were tedious readings of court cases, many of whom were very good at disengaging oneself.

    If Labour did decide to do an election petition I suspect the chances of Labour being successful is very very minimal.

    CHCH • Since Apr 2009 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to izogi,

    The vulgar vote men...

    Aren't there meant to be party scrutineers during the counts to catch this sort of thing, or does that not always happen at the smaller polling places?

    I just read a great article on LBJ's 1948 election in Texas ( New Yorker, Jan 29, 1990 ) - how he spread lies and bought votes, allegedly with Brown and Root's money (Brown & Root became KBR a division of Halliburton), how the various counties/fiefdom bosses basically kept scrutineers away, stuffed ballot boxes, and whatever else it took...

    from one source:

    Johnson had it a little easier, as his symbiotic relationship with Brown & Root occurred before campaign finance laws required candidates to reveal the sources of their funding. Indeed, by Johnson's own admission, according to his biographer Ronnie Dugger, much of the money he got from Brown & Root came in cash. In return, Johnson steered lucrative federal contracts to the company. Those contracts helped Brown & Root become a global construction powerhouse that today employs 20,000 people and operates in more than 100 countries.

    "It was a totally corrupt relationship and it benefited both of them enormously," says Dugger, the author of The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson. "Brown & Root got rich, and Johnson got power and riches." Without Brown & Root's money, Johnson wouldn't have won (or rather, been able to steal) the 1948 race for U.S. Senate. "That was the turning point. He wouldn't have been in the running without Brown & Root's money and airplanes. And the 1948 election allowed Lyndon to become president," said Dugger, who is currently running for the Green Party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in New York.

    and from wikipedia:

    The runoff count took a week. The Democratic State Central Committee (not the State of Texas, because the matter was a party primary) handled the count, and it finally announced that Johnson had won by 87 votes. By a majority of one member (29-28) the committee voted to certify Johnson's nomination, with the last vote cast on Johnson's behalf by Temple, Texas, publisher Frank W. Mayborn, who rushed back to Texas from a business trip in Nashville, Tennessee.

    There were many allegations of fraud on both sides. Thus one writer alleges that Johnson's campaign manager, future Texas governor John B. Connally, was connected with 202 ballots in Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County that had curiously been cast in alphabetical order and just at the close of polling, with all of the people whose names appeared on the ballots being dead on election day. Robert Caro argued in his 1989 book that Johnson had stolen the election in Jim Wells County and other counties in South Texas, as well as rigging 10,000 ballots in Bexar County alone. A judge, Luis Salas, said in 1977 that he had certified 202 fraudulent ballots for Johnson.

    my emphasis

    Those were the days, eh?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5169 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Nimmo,

    [52] seems like a really strange decision to me. I could see his point if the pens were black/blue... but orange is just such a perfect colour for highlighting!

    Wellington • Since May 2009 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    It’s also been observed that if Labour won, it’d only have a short-term effect anyway as Bennett would be next cab off the rank when Lockwood Smith high-tails it to London.

    1. The bigger effect is not that Bennett is out of Parliament, but that the government's strength will drop by one, and Labour's increase by one, meaning that National + ACT + United Future is not enough votes to pass a law (e.g. assets sales).

    2. It is not clear that Bennett would be next cab off the rank. She may miss out altogether.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    They did not pass Civics 101. He does mention a need for voter education.

    It is illuminating to read a plain english law document. Judge got down to the nitty gritty and in the vernacular.

    That unsung hero: "The reasonable man".

    Whoever invented the special voting procedure that ensures anonymity should have got a gong.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1510 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Grainger,

    Interesting. I don't suppose a judgement is available for the Christchurch Central recount?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Joshua Grainger,

    Interesting. I don’t suppose a judgement is available for the Christchurch Central recount?

    I've never known of a recount judgment before. I kinda get the feeling that Judge Adams just really liked his involvement in the process and wanted to share it with the world. I love how you can just tell from reading the judgment that when he said it was a privilege to be involved he *really* meant it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3012 posts Report Reply

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