Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Referendum '11: counting the votes

41 Responses

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Well don't get tooooo cocky about it. After voting on Saturday, I absentmindedly walked to the ballet box behind all the other people who were voting. I could easily have looked at the way 6 random strangers were voting. I didn't, of course, why would I give a stuff?

    You have to have the ballot paper. What kind of "casual prying" involves stealing ballot papers?

    Yes, as I said. If you wanted to pry, you'd have to be pretty serious about it. This isn't a country that lends itself to such things, for starters because most people will just tell you how they voted anyway if you ask. The only serious voter intimidation we have is quite hard to stop - people denying others the right to vote at all, as some cults do. Maybe some abusive spouses too. Don't really know.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    There would be no point in a challenge if it was impossible to know which way the person had voted.

    You brought up Creech v. Boorman. I'm sure Graeme will correct me if I'm wrong, but both parties challenged the eligibility of around 200 voters in toto to vote in the electorate (most around whether they met the residency qualification); and the other leg of Creech's electoral petition was that Boorman had exceeded his spending cap.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    One of the big problems with STV voting for local body elections is that they're send in by mail and, in Dunedin's case at least, they are counted somewhere else (Christchurch over a period of weeks) - this makes scrutineering practically impossible and certainly not free (for the scrutineers who have to travel to another city and pay for a hotel for the weeks that the ballots are counted)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2179 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Hannah, in reply to BenWilson,

    There would be no point in a challenge if it was impossible to know which way the person had voted.

    You can play the numbers, maybe one of Reg Boorman's people had talked politics with your cousin on the train and thought he probably wasn't Labour, maybe they knew he was a accounting student and figured chances were...

    If you challenge 200 people, and 50 of them actually voted for you, you've still knocked out 100 more votes for your opponent.

    Knowing if someone voted is a whole lot easier - they're crossed off the roll. But not how they voted.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 224 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Prosser,

    It would be easy,, in theory, to take a vote, and find out who cast it. Take the sticker off, find the ballot pad, and then look it up on the certified roll.

    However, you won't normally want to do that. And they'll be stored in different parts of the office, which is full of people. So you could, in theory sneak in at night, break into the locked room, and find a ballot paper to look up but really....I can't think why anyone would ever want to. Everyone is busy enough as it is.

    However, usually (meaning in the rare cases of double voting) the Returning Officer will identify a double vote, and need to extract the 2 ballot papers.

    I haven't seen the manual or been involved in that process, but I'm guessing the first thing would be to find the 2 rolls from the issuing officers who issued the vote.

    Then, going through the box of papers from that polling place only, you'd sort the ballot papers by issuing officer stamp (everyone has a different number).

    And then for those maybe 100-400 papers you'd remove the sticker, and as you do, look for the line and page number. Once you find it, extract the vote, and by that time, you would know how the double voter voted.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 225 posts Report Reply

  • Trish Janes,

    Emma Hart is being picky. You just needed to say that "scutineers" are the party people sitting there like stuffed chocks to keep everything honest. It is the electoral staff who make a note linking the person to the numbered voting paper is case it needs to be retrieved. It is interesting to learn that they do not have the capacity to find the associated referendum paper.

    I worked in Wellington. We had heaps of special votes from people previously enrolled in Christchurch, some of them students. If they had been living in a Wellington electorate for more than a month they were given the choice of where to vote. More then half chose to vote in the Wellington electorate rather than Christchurch. At least with MMP the nationwide percentage rules overall.

    As for waiting for the final referendum count, it is interesting to see that the national count of 287,000 advance votes was incredibly close to the total count. In earlier times, absentee votes always favoured National but no longer.http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_2011/partystatus-early.html

    Wellington • Since Nov 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tim Hannah,

    Knowing if someone voted is a whole lot easier - they're crossed off the roll. But not how they voted.

    It's not easy, but it must be possible, otherwise, upon being challenged, they could simply lie about who they voted for. Then if they were found to be invalid, they actually strike a blow at the party they didn't vote for.

    We do have a free and fair system, and the facts that the votes are tracked is very hard to subvert casually. If however, by some horrid chance, a criminal, fascist aligned organization grew to any appreciable size in NZ, it would be perfectly possible for them to steal the ballots for an entire electorate, and work out how every individual in an electorate voted. Much of the way our system works isn't about designing foolproof systems, it's about the society itself being fair and open, on the whole. Lose that, and it doesn't matter what system you're using.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    One of the big problems with STV voting for local body elections is that they’re send in by mail

    I see the main problem as the way postal voting makes the secret ballot optional. With ballot boxes, you can't show someone else your vote even if you want to, or are being coerced into doing so. The only way around this is the fairly elaborate process of getting a postal vote.

    There have been issues overseas with postal voting papers being collected and voted as a block.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling,

    Hypotheticals...If Banks resigns and re-stands and re-wins Epsom for the Conservative Party, would that mean he'd activate their 2.8% share of the vote?

    If Rodney Hide had resigned from parliament during the last term would ACT have lost all their seats since they were well under the 5% party vote or would they have gotten another list MP to replace him?

    North Shore • Since Nov 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    The law relating to the electoral referendum looks like it was tailor-made for fiddling the result. The usual Election Day protections (scrutineers) and the multiple-voting protection were done away with….so someone could dump a few thousand marked ballots into the process and who would know?

    I frankly do not trust this government to not cheat. They put up the referendum in the first place hoping to ultimately make my vote worthless. I can’t possibly trust anyone who has that black mark as their starting point on electoral systems and associated referenda.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling,

    John Banks is Dr Jekyll...

    If Banks resigns and re-stands and re-wins Epsom for the Conservative Party

    and this is how it was supposed to work...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5070 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling,

    That’s almost a FAQ, and I think Graeme covered it off a while ago.

    No. Candidates are candidates for the party they listed on their nomination form. The list numbers are computed when the final results are in and never change.

    It doesn’t matter if Banks was a secret member of the Conservative party, or decides to refound the McGillicuddy’s* – the lists will be unchanged.

    Banks is a sole electorate MP – ACT (like UF and Mana) have no list seats – if he changes parties, that’s up to him but no changes to the list.

    If Hide (who did have list MPs beside him) had resigned, ACT would have kept their list seats irrespective of the result of any by-election. If he’d swapped parties, the same would have happened.

    * McGillicuddys? The question of whether they took a possessive is, I feel, of rather more importance.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Note that list MPs can also jump parties, as when the Alliance MPs all left the Alliance to betray their basic goals and policies. So it's not that National gets it's list places, it's that those MPs from the list are now parliamentarians, and will stay that way until they retire.

    If an electorate MP leaves parliament, we get a bi-election. If a list MP leaves parliament, the next on the list they came from comes in, even if they'd personally swapped parties between times.

    Since Nov 2006 • 480 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Because I am deeply shallow, every time I read the headline to this post, the juke-box starts up:

    They're counting the votes 2, 3, 4, 5,
    I'm feeling fear my job's on th'line 6,7,8,9
    I'm just wishing that all were mine

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    Thanks to an enlightened music department head, our full school assembly sang that number. Emma is familiar with the hall in question. Awesome.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If however, by some horrid chance, a criminal, fascist aligned organization grew to any appreciable size in NZ, it would be perfectly possible for them to steal the ballots for an entire electorate, and work out how every individual in an electorate voted.

    But I already told Act how I voted.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6207 posts Report Reply

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