Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Fact-checking Parliament: more prisoners can vote than they think

16 Responses

  • Paul Campbell,

    so to sum it up, if you really want to vote you simply need to escape from prison and head down to your polling place (maybe you can get a day release).

    Does one get automatically removed from the rolls when you are imprisoned? (and automatically reenrolled when released?)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2586 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Another odd situation I noticed the other day when getting the rates bills. I got a flyer saying if I'm enrolled and paying rates in one district and have a property in another I can be eligible to enrol as a ratepayer elector in the other community or local board area. This is for the local authority Elections on October 8 2016. So I can now vote twice. I find that rather unfair.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    That ban on prisoners voting is so unfair. The state could start rounding up people and imprison them before elections. It happened in Wellington Central in 1972 when protesters against compulsory military training were imprisoned just before the election and the resulting vote was very close. Although the new Labour government came in and removed the ban, lowered the voting age as well as ending CMT.

    By the way do was their any significant interest from this committee for lowering the voting age?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3142 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Per Hilary, I suspect that people old enough to vote but still imprisoned as children can probably vote. Or do they automatically get transferred to adult prison when they reach voting age?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1118 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Does one get automatically removed from the rolls when you are imprisoned? (and automatically reenrolled when released?)

    One does get automatically removed when imprisoned. I understand an enrolment form is provided to prisoners as part of the stuff they're given on their release. That isn't automatic.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3198 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    I got a flyer saying if I’m enrolled and paying rates in one district and have a property in another I can be eligible to enrol as a ratepayer elector in the other community or local board area. This is for the local authority Elections on October 8 2016. So I can now vote twice. I find that rather unfair.

    The usual argument is that if you are paying rates to a council you should have a say in how those rates are set and how the money is spent. It certainly doesn't apply to everything, however. You don't get to vote in multiple wards/boards within a single district however.

    Do you also find it unfair that a parent with a child in a primary school and another at high school gets to vote on the School Boards of both schools, while a parent with kids in only one school only gets to vote on that school's board?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3198 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Not to threadjack, but I think everyone in a school's catchment should be able to vote for school boards. Education isn't just a service to the children currently at school, it's a service for the whole community.

    Equally, councils are elected to serve a community and happen to be able to levy taxes from property owners in that community.The members of that community (as determined by principal residence) should be eligible to vote. (I assume ratepayers who aren't eligible to vote in NZ because they aren't citizens or permanent residents can't vote as ratepayers?)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Not to threadjack, but I think everyone in a school's catchment should be able to vote for school boards. Education isn't just a service to the children currently at school, it's a service for the whole community.

    And if someone is in more than one catchment, because the zones overlap?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3198 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The system that used to apply in some places overseas was that you had a local education authority that was elected (often it was the local council) and supervised schools, employed staff and did a lot of work that was easier to scale across several schools.You also had boards of governors, but they were limited in their powers - it stopped heads from behaving as if the school was their personal property.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    some places overseas was that you had a local education authority that was elected (often it was the local council)

    I'm pretty comfortable at an NZ scale saying we do the same thing - about 5M people elect a government that runs the education system. Letting parents/guardians vote for who supervises their local school is pretty reasonable, but I'm not convinced that uninvolved adults would put the work in to cast an informed vote.

    Unfortunately on some issues random people have strong opinions, and some of those opinions wrt education are terrible. I fear things like the religious wrong block voting anti-evolution, anti-sex members onto boards (Australia is suffering a bad case of incompetent loonies interfering right now - "Safe Schools" for example. Plus the whole funding disaster, but that's an unrelated topic).

    So on balance, nope, average citizens should get to vote for the very top level (government), those directly involved can vote for what their kids deal with.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1118 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    So could you theoretically buy a property in every territorial local authority and vote in each one? That is surely unfair. You should only be able to vote where you live.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3142 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I don't really see the problem, as long as its not one vote per property within the local authority.
    In theory Bob Jones could have (and possibly has) bought a property in every city and district in NZ. That gets him one vote in every city council and district council election. That's not significantly more power than anyone else has.
    If it was one vote per property even within the area, then Bob would have distinctly large block of votes towards the Wellington City Council, which would be disproportionate, and could lead to abuse.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Do you also find it unfair that a parent with a child in a primary school and another at high school gets to vote on the School Boards of both schools,

    I guess not but my thought re my vote in Council was that what if someone owns multiple properties in other jurisdictions and nominates their staff to use that 2nd vote,as is the right of business, trusts, the odds could be stacked, which I do think is unfair.

    In theory Bob Jones could have (and possibly has) bought a property in every city and district in NZ. That gets him one vote in every city council and district council election.

    No, it says you can only vote twice but you can nominate employees to vote for other properties as long as the employee is on an electoral roll.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    By the way do was their any significant interest from this committee for lowering the voting age?

    The majority was against further consideration, but there was some interest in considering the issue by both the Electoral Commission and opposition members.

    Lowering the voting age
    Many submitters support lowering the voting age to 16. They argue that 16 and 17 year olds would have a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens through civics education at school, from which political engagement and voting habits could be developed and sustained.

    Submitters who oppose lowering the voting age believe that 16 and 17 year olds could be too easily influenced by their parents or mainstream media. The commission said that it would support consideration and public consultation on lowering the voting age to 16, noting that overseas evidence indicates that it may be easier to engage 16 year olds in the democratic process than 18 year olds.
    In 2007, Austria became the first member of the European Union to adopt a voting age of 16 (except at European Parliament elections, for which the voting age is 18). Electoral data shows that the turnout rates of 16 and 17 year olds were comparable to those of the wider electorate.

    In September 2014, Scotland allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum. About 75 percent of 16 and 17 year olds are reported to have voted, higher than 18–24 year olds (54 percent) and 25–34 year olds (72 percent). After the referendum, the British and Scottish parliaments agreed to reduce the voting age to 16 for parliamentary elections and local government elections in Scotland.

    We recognise that lowering the voting age would be a major change to the electoral system, requiring broad public consultation and a high level of political consensus. Provisions about the voting age in the Act are entrenched, and amending these would require a majority in a referendum or a 75 percent majority in Parliament. While the majority of the committee does not support lowering the voting age, some of the committee feel that this should be debated and considered further.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3198 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    It will come – 16 and then lower. After all only a few decades ago MPs thought women couldn’t cope with the democratic process

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3142 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The usual argument is that if you are paying rates to a council you should have a say in how those rates are set and how the money is spent.

    Sometimes I've wondered if it'd make more sense to just levy rates directly on residents, instead of property owners, which would remove that minor ambiguity. It's typically the residents who fund the rates and other council-influenced expenses either directly or indirectly via their rents, anyway. Most owners' primary interest is about their property value, or possibly their future residency if they're letting out their home. For comparison of the latter scenario I don't get to vote for other other councils just because I intend to live there in future. I have to actually show up and reside there and have a direct stake in the place to have the right to vote. (Or buy a property and optionally stuff someone else into it, apparently.)

    Really it seems to come down to how "we" want to do things. Where central government elections are concerned, we seem to be quite content with a system of people who live here getting priority. Unlike many other countries where citizenship is everything that matters for elections, NZ's requirement seem much more centered around residency and permanently (and legally) living here. Even to the extent that NZ citizens overseas can't vote unless they've demonstrated a commitment to visiting NZ within an election cycle.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1136 posts Report Reply

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