Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Election '11: the special votes

80 Responses

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  • Rachel Prosser,

    It is a bit annoying, I enrolled a month ago and still had to cast a special vote on the day.

    If you enrolled a month ago - 26 October - you would have just missed out, as the rolls were printed on 25 October.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 225 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Prosser, in reply to DeepRed,

    Yup – and it’s also worth remembering that New Zealand does things like this because our electoral system is internationally respected and the results taken seriously. Getting the basics of a credible election result done right rather than done right now is important in ways far beyond the obvious.

    I agree. Having been a special/ordinary vote issuing officer (although it may have been titled "poll clerk") before I left to go to the UK I was astonished at elements of the UK electoral system.

    First up:, the result is final on the night. No judicial recounts.

    Further, whereas our system places a premium on making sure everyone who is entitled to vote can, their system has as an underlying principle that it's important to avoid fraud, and innocent voters being deprived of their vote comes second.

    Case in point: a British MP didn't get to vote in one election as a clerical error (which absolutely everyone involved agreed was a clerical error) meant his voting paper was despatched to someone one line above or below him on the electoral roll who wanted to cast an advance vote. Unless that ballot paper could be retrieved (from Norfolk from memory), he couldn't vote. At all.

    Legal advice was that the rules specified what could happen, and there was no provision for the returning officer to correct obvious mistakes.

    Depriving someone of one of their fundamental rights as a citizen was a lesser concern than preventing double voting.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 225 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    In the backend, there’s an (unpublished, but auditable) database of eligible voters, based on driving license, IRD and Internal Affairs records. That allows anyones eligibility to be determined instantly.

    Without wanting to be too critical of the general idea, there may be some privacy issues to work out if it's to involve using the data collected by several different agencies like that for a different purpose than its primary intention.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 436 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    It's also to allow time for overseas votes to be returned ... Kiwis voting in London, for instance, have their votes flown back to NZ and distributed to their "home" electoral districts.

    Only if they voted at a diplomatic post or posted their votes to their local diplomatic post (for instance, we posted ours to the New York consulate.) It's also possible to post or fax them directly to New Zealand; I wonder what the split is on those methods? A lot of Kiwis overseas are near diplomatic posts, but certainly not everyone.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Surely we should be counting John Banks as a National Party MP, in terms of reliability right? Rather than say an MP from another party, with a differing agenda. I don't know the guy, but he did spend an awfully long time as a National MP and old habits die hard for all of us

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 897 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ben Austin,

    I don't know the guy, but he did spend an awfully long time as a National MP and old habits die hard for all of us

    How about Winston? In the 1986-87 glory days of the Lange Government Banks and Peters were probably the two most voluble and visible opposition MPs. While I can't recall the author of the piece (Denis Welch?), I clearly remember a Listener article from the time describing them as the two horsemen of the socialist apocalypse.

    While Winston would likely reject the term he's remained an unreconstructed Muldoon socialist, in that he delivers to a constituency carved out by the politics of division. Banks has happily identified with Muldoon in the past, to the point of hosting his radio show when the old horror was indisposed. Although his political instincts are at least as divisive as Winston's he'll never deliver to the voters, only to those he's struck deals with. No gold cards from Banksie.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3595 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to izogi,

    The Electoral Commission already hears from NZ Post and possibly LTA and Immigration when people move, etc. And travel data goes to IRD and WINZ.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Ben Austin,

    I wouldn't rule out Banks taking another spin of the revolving door and becoming a National MP (again).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    No judicial recounts

    What about the 1997 Winchester election where a rerun was ordered after an electoral petition?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    [Winston].. delivers to a constituency carved out by the politics of division.

    It has started already: we will be paying our bills to Chinese and Indian power companies, we were told on morning radio. Good grief.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Ben Austin,

    Surely we should be counting John Banks as a National Party MP, in terms of reliability right?

    Only as long as he doesn’t get run over by a bus during the next three years, because in that case he morphs back into Don Brash as far as the system is concerned. Unless (maybe) the bus was provably being driven by Brash and was speeding uncontrollably through an indoor pedestrian shopping mall at the time.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 436 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I do admit to not paying a lot of attention to this, but Banks never really fell out with National's leadership, or did he?

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 897 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to izogi,

    No, Banks is an electorate MP and ACT have no list MPs, not having polled enough to get more than one.

    If Banks expires in office (and I take cheer from the mortality stats for fat old men) there would be a by-election. If the National candidate wins, there'll be +1 to the Nats and ACT will be out of parliament.

    Key thing to remember is that the list numbers never get adjusted in the course of a parliament.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Key thing to remember is that the list numbers never get adjusted in the course of a parliament.

    Well, not yet. Maybe the Electoral Commission will recommend a change!

    I'm thinking about whether there should be one in respect of list MPs who contest by-elections. I'm still forming my view, but my initial thinking is not to ban the practice, but to prohibit the replacement of the successful list MP as a list MP (i.e. Parliament would reduce in size by one list MP for the remainder of the term). Very interested in alternate views.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    It’s a function of how the special votes are recorded. There aren’t any wholly Maori Polling Places. Each Polling Place will also have at least one General electorate.

    Rachel, a belated thanks for this information, much appreciated.

    Also, thanks to all the other clearly well informed and interesting comments on this thread. As ever, PA is the place to come for insight!

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2237 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    No, Banks is an electorate MP and ACT have no list MPs, not having polled enough to get more than one.

    You are indeed correct. Silly me forgetting about the threshold after all that.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 436 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I’m still forming my view, but my initial thinking is not to ban the practice, but to prohibit the replacement of the successful list MP as a list MP (i.e. Parliament would reduce in size by one list MP for the remainder of the term). Very interested in alternate views.

    But doesn't that further distort the proportionality of Parliament, however slightly?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I take cheer from the mortality stats for fat old men

    Ugh. I don’t. It’s a personal and public health disaster. Interesting question, but not one I look forward to. Peachey’s death didn’t effect things because it was within 6 (?) months of a general election, right?

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    prohibit the replacement of the successful list MP as a list MP (i.e. Parliament would reduce in size by one list MP for the remainder of the term). Very interested in alternate views.

    What's the reasoning? It seems to me to be the equivalent of banning list MPs from contesting general electorates in general elections, and all the same reasons against that argument apply.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Yes, apparently "Dr Brash formerly resigned last night."

    No word on whether a Tardis was involved.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Seems there are two cases, correct me if I'm wrong:

    Party A held seat, party A list MP wins seat: no net change on electorate or list
    Party A held seat, party B list MP wins seat: +1 electorate MP for A, no net change on list

    It seems (at least to me) fair enough that if a seat changes hands mid-term, the party winning it gains. The actual nationwide support numbers in mid-term are unknown, but one could take the victory as indicative of increased support for the winning party.

    Also, the situation with a list MP or a newcomer is identical, right? If a newcomer from A wins a seat from B, their party goes +1 (the newcomer). If a list MP wins, the same happens, but it's the highest ranked unelected candidate that gets in.

    This kinda smacks to me of deriving from the bogus idea that list MPs are a lesser class of representative, because their supporters are NZ wide rather than concentrated in one place.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I’m thinking about whether there should be one in respect of list MPs who contest by-elections. I’m still forming my view, but my initial thinking is not to ban the practice, but to prohibit the replacement of the successful list MP as a list MP (i.e. Parliament would reduce in size by one list MP for the remainder of the term). Very interested in alternate views.

    That would seem likely to prevent a list MP from ever running for a mid-term electorate position, I can't imagine why we'd want to do that.

    Having them replaced by whoever was next on the list would seem to match best.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    (by which I mean, it feels like in effect they're resigning from parliament, being replaced from the list, and then winning the election and coming back into parliament. Except it all only happens if they win)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    That would seem likely to prevent a list MP from ever running for a mid-term electorate position, I can’t imagine why we’d want to do that.

    Some people actually want to ban that completely. I'm positing a slightly less drastic alternative.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    This kinda smacks to me of deriving from the bogus idea that list MPs are a lesser class of representative, because their supporters are NZ wide rather than concentrated in one place.

    Quite - and in a crazy idea, how about leaving voters to decide? If a party duly selects an incumbent list MP to contest a by-election they can punish any perceived "double dipping" douche-baggery by electing some other bastard (or bitch). But I just think distorting the proportionality of Parliament, however slightly, is using a nuke to kill a bag of ghost chips.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

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