Written By: Mike Smith - Date published: 9:19 pm, February 17th, 2014 - 122 comments
Categories: blogs, democracy under attack, democratic participation, dpf, election 2014, elections, electoral commission, Judith Collins, national, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: david farrar, easy-vote, electoral amendment bill
Good to see Labour has stood up against National’s “harder-to-vote” Bill. David Farrar went apoplectic when Andrew Little announced Labour would oppose changes to the Electoral Amendment Bill dumping the easier-vote card, and adding a provision making voters state their name as well as have a card to get a voting paper.
According to Farrar Little was telling lies. But it was him who wasn’t telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.His post claimed “The Easy-Vote card will be used in the 2014 election in the same way as it was in 2011.” Graeme Edgeler corrected him in a comment: “It will not be used in the same way as the 2011 election. At that election, you handed over the card, and your name was crossed off and you were given a ballot paper. At the 2014 election, you will hand over the card, your name will be crossed off and you will also have to verbally give or verbally confirm your name. If you don’t do this, you won’t get a ballot paper.
National’s interest is to drive participation rates down. National submitters made a concerted push to tighten election requirements in the 2011 Election Review, as I wrote here. Their approach was rejected by the Select Committee at that time. The Electoral Amendment Bill introduced in August last year contained a provision to make voting easier by extending the use of the EasyVote card. Now they have had another go; when the Bill emerged from Select Committee last December this provision had gone, and a requirement that every voter was required to state their name was added.
As Farrar implies in his post, the reason for this is to allow scrutineers to more easily challenge a voter’s credentials to vote. If a scrutineer does this, the returning officer automatically has to take a statutory declaration, with the underlying threat that a false statement is a criminal act. It is in the same line as voter intimidation practices in conservative States in the US. Expect National Party scrutineers questioning more voter credentials in the 2014 election.
Farrar wasn’t the only one stretching the truth – Select Committee chair Scott Simpson claimed in Parliament last week that there were “49 submissions and they had heard 16″ – in fact there were 14 submissions on the Amendment Bill and the Committee heard three. Almost all of them focussed on ribbons on election day – none objected to the extension of the easy vote card and none advocated the change that emerged from the Committee. It was all National’s idea.
It looks to me like National thought they could slip through in this Bill what they couldn’t do after the 2011 election review.
It’s good to see that the Labour Caucus has picked them up on it, and affirmed that there is no consensus on the matter. Judith Collins is now hoist by her own logic – consensus decision-making means that any one party’s dissent means no decision. The interrogation should not proceed and the easier vote card should.
It’s very disappointing to see the National Party so keen to make elections harder, for voters and for returning officers. It is another sign of how desperate they are to tip the odds in their favour.