web analytics

No mystery over Waitakere votes

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, December 20th, 2011 - 48 comments
Categories: elections - Tags:

There was some pretty low-grade reporting on the Waitakere race that suggested some kind of organised voter fraud may have taken place. Under the title Questions over Waitakere vote, the Herald reporter said 9 dual votes had been found and 393 special votes had been cast by people not enrolled to vote. But that’s not evidence of foul play: it’s par for the course.

Being registered to vote in New Zealand is compulsory but about 5% of people aren’t registered. Most of these people are pretty disconnected from the political sphere. Some genuinely don’t know that they need to be registered before voting.

When a person shows up on election day wanting to vote but doesn’t appear in the printed electoral roll, they are given a special vote to complete because a) they might have enrolled after the printed rolls were printed or b) they might be registered in a different electorate (your party vote still counts if you vote in the wrong electorate like this, but not your candidate vote – 25,520 people did that in 2008).

After election day, the validity of every single one of the quarter of a million special votes is checked (what did you think they were doing for two weeks between the preliminary and final count?). There are technical requirements (it has to be witnessed, signed by the voter etc) and the voter has to appear on some electorate’s roll. In 2008, 16,396 special votes (6.6%) were disallowed because the voter was not on any roll. So, 393 instances in Waitakere is nothing surprising. In fact, 329 people did the same thing in Waitakere in 2008.

This isn’t fraud, it’s individuals who screwed up by not being enrolled – usually young people recently turned 18 and immigrants who don’t know the system. Trying to get people who are not enrolled to cast votes would be a pointless attempt at voter fraud because no vote from someone who isn’t enrolled is ever going to be counted.

As for dual voting, well that happens too – 55 times just involving special votes in 2008. It occurs for two innocent reasons: old people who forget that they’ve already voted early when electoral staff visit rest homes before polling day and are then taken to the polling place by their families on election day, and polling staff crossing out the wrong line when they mark off a vote in the electoral roll.

Every instance of apparent double voting discovered, by the simple act of physically compiling all the polling booths’ rolls and the special votes roll into a master roll and looking for double-ups (again, why it takes two weeks to get the final count), is investigated. Returning Officers must undertake some amateur sleuthing to discover whether the apparent double vote was a clerical error (For instance, the rolls may show Arthur B Wilson voting once at the same place as a woman with the same surname and address – most couples vote together – and then, apparently, again at a different polling place, the same polling place as the wife of Arthur S Wilson voted, and there is no record of Arthur S Wilson voting anywhere – a couple of phone calls will confirm that Arthur S voted with his wife). If no clerical explanation can be found then, by law, the dual votes must be removed* and reported to the Police, who investigate. Very rarely do they prosecute.

No-one seeking to commit voter fraud would get 9 of their mates to vote twice because a) dual votes get caught and both their votes removed so it would be counter-productive and b) who would ever imagine that 9 votes would matter either way in an election?

If the Herald’s reporter had bothered to ring someone who knew, like the Electoral Commission or, presumably, one of her senior colleagues, an embarrassingly ill-informed and misleading piece need not have appeared in the Herald, which has led a number of people to erroneously think there was an organised attempt to steal an election in Waitakere. And it wouldn’t have given an excuse for people who know better take advantage of the public’s ignorance and smear the Labour candidate.

Richard D

* It’s a little known fact that your vote is traceable. Ballots have serial numbers on them, covered by black stickers, with matching numbers on the ballot stub. When you get your vote, the page and line number of your name in the roll is recorded on the stub. It’s a tedious process but dual votes can be found and removed from the count.

updated: Fixed changed duel to dual.

48 comments on “No mystery over Waitakere votes ”

  1. Adrian 1

    Why are the rolls not on line, all most everything else is? It is the easiest way to check if one is or is not enrolled. Even if there are privacy or other concerns, i.e fraud ( though I can’t see how), why can’t the complete database be accessed only by the polling booth manager or workers , it would save a huge amount of time and half a forest in paper rolls.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Sometimes slowing down the system, although somewhat inconvenient, makes it better not worse.

    • Carol 1.2

      Makes it harder for spammers etc to use the electoral roll if it’s not online. I prefer it that way.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        Also on e-day, paper rolls do not suffer from:

        – hard disk failures
        – internet connection failures
        – power failures
        – database failures
        – server failures
        – overloading

        As a society we need to start thinking power down, resiliency and redundancy, not increasing interlinking systems complexity.

        • lprent

          Same reason that I have always resisted trying to do page and line numbers at the booths using 3G phones. Church halls are a bit short on power points.

        • aerobubble

          Given the practice of targetting voter groups by the right, putting some off voting, in very specific areas that skew the whole election. Why would we want a system that can dynamically hack voter intent as the election proceeds? Some accessing a paper ballot needs to rub out and remark every ballot, all a esystem needs is to flip a bit.

        • PW

          I’m always a fan of paper-based voting systems for the elections that really matter. They are simple, and everyone can understand them. There is a degree of transparency and reliability in paper that you just can’t get with anything digital.

          There is also another aspect – paper systems require a lot of people to organise and maintain them, but I see that as an investment in democracy. All of those people, whether employed full time, or just on the day with their special tax code, will go on to tell others about their time behind the polls, and thus build confidence in the most important institution we have.

          Nothing is really going to stop a paper system after it starts on polling day, but a single (and as yet, undetermined) failure at Huntly could give us all black screens on those new fancy voting computers.

      • Vicky32 1.2.2

        I prefer it that way.

        As do I!

    • insider 1.3

      It’s also against the law to photocopy them and use them for commercial purposes. The exception is that MPs get electronic rolls which they can use to generate mailing lists.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        And phone canvassing, door canvass, analysing the electorate(s), etc… Who just does snail mail with them?

        So old school, relatively ineffective, and dependent on finding money for the postage out of limited campaign budgets.

        But the actual purpose is so that MP’s can check the roll.

    • lprent 1.4

      It is the easiest way to check if one is or is not enrolled.

      They are for that. https://secure.elections.org.nz/app/enrol/

      There are bugger all power points in most polling places, and frequently there isn’t any data access even with 3G. Even in Auckland, I swear that they site schools halls and churches in cell shadows.

      • McFlock 1.4.1

        Even in Auckland, I swear that they site schools halls and churches in cell shadows

        Well, I seem to recall a number of complaints about cell towers being within a stone’s throw of kiddies.
        Not commenting on the validity of complaints, just pointing out a possible cause of the coverage issues.

  2. Uturn 2

    Duel votes hold a certain fascination, don’t you think? Permanent markers at fifty paces. The first to scribble a vote on their opponent’s face wins.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    It’s a little known fact that your vote is traceable.

    That’s because they need to be. If they weren’t then anyone could vote and voter fraud would be rampant. It was my realisation of this several years ago that allowed me to realise that online voting could be just as secure as the traditional paper trail.

    • insider 3.1

      I think turning up and physically having to vote is a nice discipline on the election process that probably reduces attempts at fraud. I know it is not really an issue in NZ, but I suspect there would be a higher level of attempted fraud the more remote the voting becomes. It’s sort of a Caesar’s Wife thing to me. I also like the ritual of taking the children – provides the opportunity for a mini civics lesson and complements their school work, as they tend to study elections at election time.

  4. Ant 4

    Wish we did have duel voting though, could be interesting.

  5. Enzo 5

    Another all too common innocent reason dual voting exists is when someone faxes off an overseas vote and mistakenly thinks it hasn’t gone through so faxes it again to be certain – unfortunately this voids both votes.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      This seems so terribly obvious that I wonder why the electoral commission don’t have a specific process in place.

      So the first time you fax it, you just fax as-is. The second (or third) times you add some special note to the fax to indicate that it is a backup vote incase of transmission failure. They’d receive both votes, but as long as the votes were identical, they’d simply discard the backup vote and count the first one.

  6. Akldnut 6

    The permanent marker needs to be changed, they’re useless.

  7. Craig Glen Eden 7

    Bennett needs to be challenged about her statements to about illegal activity. The allegations of illegality she made and then examples given of legal activity are quite shocking surely both her and her spokes people know that its legal to door knock on election day for the purposes of mobilizing vote as opposed to influencing vote. I suspect however National don’t have the Party numbers to man such an activity on election day. Personally I am sick of Bennett’s blatant hypocrisy given her breach of a certain womans privacy for her own political advantage.

    • Fotran 7.1

      Am waiting for Labour to mount a challenge against Bennett. To do so is expensive – last one in Tauranga by Winston cost $200,000. Huo is a Chinese supporter money getter for Labour who now returns to Parliament. Sorry but Sepuloni will have to return to her union job for now and seek reselection in 2014.

    • Anne 7.2

      …surely both her and her spokes people know that its legal to door knock on election day for the purposes of mobilizing vote…

      Probably not. You’ve got to remember your average run of the mill Nat. isn’t all that bright (cunning yes, but not bright) and when their MP is no better, then ignorance rules the day.

  8. Matthew Hooton 8

    It is certainly par for the course in an election in which Labour has a candidate and Mike Williams is an electorate official

    • Craig Glen Eden 8.1

      What is par for the coarse Matthew?

    • Yes please answer Craig’s question and can you advise what position Mike Williams holds?

      • Anne 8.2.1

        I don’t think Mike Williams is on Matty’s Xmas card list any more. He bested Matty on Radio NZ’s Monday political spot during the campaign. I seem to recall MH getting quite upset about it on one occasion. 🙂

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Hooton doesnt get upset , its his plan B when he looses the argument

          • Anne

            You’re right gwwnz, but MH definitely momentarily lost the plot. I could just hear some muffled giggling which had to be coming from Mike Williams. It was an enjoyable moment.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 8.2.2

        Labours official scrutineer at the Waitakere recount

    • rustle19 8.3

      ah, Matthew having another dig at Mike Williams, happens on their Nine to Noon radio slots as well

  9. Ross Miller 9

    So then, how the f**k did you guys loose?

    • chris73 9.1

      The voters wanted Bennett, which is a concept those on the left are having trouble coming to terms with.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.2

      Lose ?

      Its hardly a smashing victory when National + friends is -5 seats down from last time.

      Its MMP stupid.

    • jingyang 9.3

      They didn’t “loose” at all.

    • fender 9.4

      Those with a screw loose would have voted Bennett.
      It’s a pity that Sepuloni only just managed to lose. But she will be back in 2014 hopefully, and by then the “loose” in Waitakere will be kicking themselves for their 2011 mistake.

    • bbfloyd 9.5

      who lost?……… bennett…… an area ripe for becoming a tory stronghold was nearly given up….. bennet now has to carry the taint of having disaffection and disgust with her ministries behavior lose her whole majority… waitakerie is now a marginal seat…….if she wasn’t just an overinflated nothing with a taste for persecution the seat would now be regarded as a safe one for national….

      WOO WOO!!!! PAULA WON!!!!…….yea right……

      • Mark 9.5.1

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but the fact that Waitakere is now marginal should be credit to the Nats, because isn’t Paula the first Nat to hold the seat? Waitakere should be a safe Labour seat, and my suspicion is that in 2014, Labour will win it, not because Carmel is better but because of the probable swing to them.

  10. jingyang 10

    If Labour want to set up a fund for their electoral petition, I’ll quite cheerfully donate to it if it means there is a chance of Paula Bennett getting another smackdown. I can’t stand the woman.

    She’s just another example of a woman being used by the Nats’ clique of wealthy white men as a catspaw for regressive social policies that end up hurting women possibly more than they hurt men. Shipley, Richardson, Tolley; National have a history…

  11. gingercrush 11


    Graham Edgeler has a link to the judicial outcome of Waitakere if anyone is interested. Quite a good read.

  12. james111 12

    Seeems rather strange that all of the Dual Voters voted for one party and not the other is that an Education problem!

    • bbfloyd 12.1

      no… it’s a perception problem on your part…… as in open both eyes and ears and listen to yourself for once… maybe the bigoted reactionary drivel will dry up once and for all…(or until you have exceeded your attention span.)…

    • ghostwhowalksnz 12.2

      Not true, one of the dual voters used the internet to download and the mail in a special vote. They didnt open the envelope , as was the case for all disallowed special votes. No one knows who they voted for

  13. rustle19 13

    interesting well informed piece Richard. Sooner or later voting will need to drag itself away from draughty community halls and pen and paper and enter the internet age, provided security concerns are addressed. Would no doubt increase participation by the young. Could have a dual system, vote online or vote in person.
    Interesting how advance voting has become so popular, and normal, all for the good.
    Also it seems that the Electoral Commission has done an excellent job, is anyone going to congratulate them. Clearly their Russian counterpart can take some lessons.

    And speaking of old ways of doing things, anyone watching the opening of Parliament must have wondered what the hell were three judges doing there, adorned with robes and wigs talking like something out of the 17thC . And there goes Lockwood Smith recalling some Speaker from Charles I time. Is this Aotearoa in 2012. Hone has the right idea.

  14. Grant 14

    Special elections are a funny old thing.

    The nz herald article mentions that a fair number of special votes were rejected due to marks that weren’t ticks, but were in the correct box.

    “Auckland lawyer Peter Kiely was recount scrutineer for the National Party
    and said some changes came about because votes allowed on election night might have had a mark in the box rather than a tick.”

    So they only allow ticks? is this widely known and why is the voters clear intend disallowed?
    As long as a mark is in the confines of the box for the candidate, then it should be allowed. If not, then the rule needs to be changed. It isn’t something that is reinforced in voters minds constantly now is it?

    Also polling stations should post the count visible to all on a board, and this can then have pics taken and send to media and online.

    Exit ballots should also be employed.

    The reason more steps need to be taken is places like corromandel is a close National / Greens electorate that the Greens can’t afford to lose.

    Common election mistakes need to be spelled out verbally and on paper to allow as many votes to be counted as possible. More could be done.

    Better physical controls to stop double marking then disqualification of ballots.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago