Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Reviewing the Election

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I haven’t even touched on the Commission’s award-winning work on providing secret voting for visually-impaired people.

    That was my favorite part! I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about reading it.
    [not joking]

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    That was my favorite part! I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about reading it.
    [not joking]

    There is, basically, a whole 'nother column in there about accessibility issues.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    As an aside, to add in that the website with all NZ's legislation has been tweaked to improve accessibility. See the bottom of http://t.co/V8sqO3kcNg

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Just a few reasons why we shouldn't take our electoral agencies -- and the job they do exceptionally well -- for granted as much as we do.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Nigel McNie,

    "...you can download a ballot paper, print it out, fill it in, scan it, and upload it."

    As the number of votes received from overseas grows, and as the internet voting push from government moves forward, we are beginning to head towards a time where hacking our elections become merely a question of cost/benefit. I'm glad to hear online voting isn't a priority for the 2017 general election at least.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2012 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Nigel McNie,

    I'm glad to hear online voting isn't a priority for the 2017 general election at least.

    Yeah, me too. Technical and social issues aside, it in no way addresses what the Commission identifies as the issues with voter turnout: engagement, and valuing one's vote.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Nigel McNie, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Indeed, that's a really good point. There are some myths around online voting, and the "it might lift turnout" is so common it make me ill. It was even listed as one of the main benefits in the Online Voting Working Group's report, despite Elections (and Statistics NZ) sitting on data that says it's just not true.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2012 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    As an aside, to add in that the website with all NZ’s legislation has been tweaked to improve accessibility. See the bottom of http://t.co/V8sqO3kcNg

    About bloody time. I spent the whole of the PAL project hammering the need into them (I ran the Government Web Standards programme from 2002-2005 and was a private nuisance thereafter). I am still angry at government websites that simply refuse to comply because “it would ruin our branding”.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Is the voter turnout graph based on 'all voters' or those 'enrolled to vote' voters.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Citizens who do not vote presumably feel disenfranchised, even in an MMP system, for a raft of personal reasons. I think it is a difficult argument to win over a voter to cast their vote for the least damaging candidate.

    Meanwhile the enfranchised majority vote for the same old spanners who are dismantling our country nut by bolt, creating further disenfranchisement.

    Perhaps a committed viable party who would look after the most vulnerable in our country as their first priority in all areas; health, education, work, retirement, houses etc. would give the non voters something to go to the polls about.

    The current politics of the centre is a fiction which protects the better off in society at the expense of the poor. It creates an environment that changes humanity into extremism in the minds of voters.

    "The most powerful tool of the oppressor, is the minds of the oppressed" Mandela.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    Is the voter turnout graph based on ‘all voters’ or those ‘enrolled to vote’ voters.

    It's not completely clear from context, but the figure given in the point immediately underneath it is "voter turnout of those eligible to enrol".

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to william blake,

    Meanwhile the enfranchised majority vote for the same old spanners who are dismantling our country nut by bolt, creating further disenfranchisement.

    I think it's worth noting that, of 670 'informal' votes, 66% were people casting a party vote, and not a candidate vote. Only 2% were the other way around. So, while these are small numbers, people are more likely to feel motivated to cast a party vote, which seems to make sense.

    One of the arguments for compulsory voting is that parties would then not be able to ignore a particular section of the (eligible) population, because those people have to vote. I think that stacks up less in a proportional system, because there are fewer barriers in the way of a party choosing to appeal to a disenchanted niche vote. One might argue that both the Greens and Internet Mana had a go at appealing to the youth vote. Except when you drill down into the data, as the EC has, you find that youth in urban electorates are much more likely to vote than youth in rural electorates.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Democracy is as much about consultation & participation as it is about voting. Hence the failed “democracies” where voting has been established but after that it’s corrupt business and authority as usual.

    The demise of real consultation and a sense that most citizens’ opinions no longer matter loom as a crisis in New Zealand. They accompany a widening gap between rich and poor. Declining participation in elections is merely one symptom of a more serious malaise.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to william blake,

    It creates an environment that changes humanity into extremism in the minds of voters.

    Word.

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

  • Bart Janssen,

    The main reasons non-voters gave for not voting ...

    Was there an option for, "because all the candidates were lying cheating scumbags"?

    And

    How did you manage to write an entertaining column about voting? <genuflects>

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Was there an option for, “because all the candidates were lying cheating scumbags”?

    Um... there's "Didn't know who to vote for", I guess...

    How did you manage to write an entertaining column about voting?

    But Bart, voting is fascinating. Utterly fascinating. Let me tell you all about the EC's plans for a two-week voting window, and how they haven't had a budget increase in six years, and why advance voting is more expensive to run, and why I shouldn't drink any more coffee today...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    The recommendations on the Electoral Roll run pretty contrary to Rob Salmond's arguments that the data be made more open - interesting to see it come up here.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    The recommendations on the Electoral Roll run pretty contrary to Rob Salmond’s arguments that the data be made more open – interesting to see it come up here.

    Okay, to me this looks like two people/groups identifying similar problems, and suggesting different solutions. So at the moment,

    If rolls and habitation indexes can be inspected and purchased, it is impossible to ensure that they are not being used for ancillary purposes. Patterns of purchase indicate that rolls are rarely being used for scrutiny purposes. They are mainly purchased by business and media organisations and used for debt collection, marketing, and other ancillary purposes

    This would seem to indicate that the legal safeguards Rob talks about aren’t really working. I think maybe we can agree that it was never anybody’s intention that the primary use of purchased electoral rolls is for debt collection?

    feedback from outreach activities suggests that many electors are nonetheless unwilling to enrol because they do not meet the criteria for inclusion on the unpublished roll but have concerns about their full residential address being available at large.

    In Australia, rolls have been available only for inspection at Electoral Commission offices since 2004.

    So, from the EC’s point of view, they don’t want people not enrolling or updating their details because they owe Baycorp, or because they’re worried about being found by an abusive ex they have not laid charges against.

    Rob’s point about the double standard is well made. What I can’t see is a compelling argument as to why he, or other private individuals, should have access to that information, which outweighs concerns for people’s physical safety.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Taylor,

    The declining participation rate is a really serious concern for some pretty obvious reasons, some of which are probably practical (such as general acceptance of the rule of law) as well as matters of principle. Thinking about how people might get exposed to politics between elections (so that when the big game comes around, they know who the goodies and baddies are, which side they are on, and at least roughly the rules and objectives of the game, etc): I suspect it is mainly through MSM and media for people who already get politics, like Public Address. We know (I think - please put me right on this, if necessary) that younger people don't consume MSM, especially news and current affairs (that antiquated concept), all that much anymore so I wonder if their exposure to politics is about as great as my exposure to sport? I am sure that if I was no longer able to dodge sporty stuff so much, I might develop a bit of an interest in it . . .

    Auckland • Since Jul 2012 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Grant Taylor,

    so that when the big game comes around, they know who the goodies and baddies are, which side they are on, and at least roughly the rules and objectives of the game,

    I think that kind of underrates those who have chosen not to vote. There is an assumption that those folks abstaining from the vote do it casually and I'm sure some do just that.

    But I also think there is a level of frustration with the lack of difference between the "goodies" and the "baddies" that leaves many with the feeling that their vote does not matter.

    Not because they can't change the result (they know they can) but because a change in the name of the government makes no real difference.

    To be deeply cynical, they are all baddies, they just wear different coloured T-shirts, red, blue, green, and yellow*.

    *Oxford comma FTW

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But I also think there is a level of frustration with the lack of difference between the “goodies” and the “baddies” that leaves many with the feeling that their vote does not matter.

    So, the EC ran those ‘your vote is a powerful thing’ ads with the changing faces. But they’re limited in what they can say to motivate people to vote by the necessary neutrality. They can’t run a campaign that says, “Hey, you guys don’t vote so much. But your grandparents do. Remember Christmas? Their voice is getting heard and yours isn’t. In the polling booth, your mum can’t tell you to shut up.”

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Taylor, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    those folks abstaining from the vote do it casually

    I wasn't thinking of it being 'casual' disinterest, Bart - more a question of perceived irrelevance. I think Emma addresses this in her imagined campaign message to young people, trying to make it relevant by playing a generation gap dynamic:

    . . . But your grandparents do . . .

    I wonder whether a lot of young people just don't 'get' politics. They don't see how it is relevant. Most of the post-young people I have met who don't vote (there aren't many of these in my daily life, so small sample), don't do it out of a sense of pointlessness, just a sense of irrelevance, "what's-it-got-to-do-with-me?"-ness.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2012 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Not because they can’t change the result (they know they can) but because a change in the name of the government makes no real difference.To be deeply cynical, they are all baddies, they just wear different coloured T-shirts, red, blue, green, and yellow

    It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.

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

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The reason Rob (or rather, Rob via the NZLP) should have access to electoral roll data is that voter contact by political parties is a key driver of voter turnout, and voter engagement with the electoral system. And there's a similar argument for non-party groups that want to use the data for civic engagement purposes - Greenpeace might want to talk to voters about what this election means for climate change, for instance, and that might engage and motivate people to participate and vote.

    I agree with you beyond that though - I don't see why any private individual should be able to access the Roll other than for limited purposes of public scrutiny. (Which is why I don't like the "chuck it on the internet and ban commercial use" answer - there's lots of people who wouldn't care about that ban, and there's lots of people who'd be doing things that it'd be impossible to police but still nasty.)

    At present the rules around the Roll are very weak and lead to some stuff that I think is pretty worrying, even aside from the debt collection etc issues. For instance, David Farrar used the National Party's copy of the Roll to try to look up a female MP's home address in order to pass it on to Cameron Slater, although I don't think it ever ended up on WhaleOil. I can't think of a good reason to let that sort of thing happen. (Which also makes me pretty doubtful of how much to trust political Parties with Roll data.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Grant Taylor,

    more a question of perceived irrelevance

    yeah that was what I was getting at as well.

    I wonder whether a lot of young people just don’t ‘get’ politics.

    And yet I disagree, they get it at the macro level, they realise that by not voting they are letting their Mom vote for Winston and letting him get in (yes my actual Mom).

    The problem is they see no discernible difference between Winston, Key, and Little and they see no way of actually changing that.

    There is a way of course and that is to take over one of the political parties and make sure the candidates are actually different - but that would appear to be hard (National candidate for Gore anyone?).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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