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NRT: No justice for electoral fraud

Written By: - Date published: 4:05 pm, February 19th, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: crime, elections, electoral commission, local body elections - Tags:

As No Right Turn says, this is an inappropriately short sentence for committing electoral fraud. It is hardly a deterrent to prospective politicians from trying to fiddle the electoral system. What was interesting was the way that the fraud was picked up – using back end systems. Far better than the type of populist stupidity to intimidate voters that National MP’s are currently supporting. 

Last year, Labour candidate Daljit Singh was convicted of electoral fraud. His sentence? Five months’ community detention and 200 hours community service:

A Labour party candidate in Auckland’s first Super City elections will serve five months’ community detention for his involvement in New Zealand’s first electoral fraud.

Daljit Singh’s bid to avoid a conviction on two charges of using forged documents he was found guilty of was also scuppered today in the High Court at Auckland, where he was also ordered to do 200 hours’ community work.

A jury acquitted the 43-year-old on a further 18 charges over a scheme designed to increase his chances of winning a spot on the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board by enrolling people from outside the area in that ward.

For those who don’t know, community detention means being required to stay at home for a few hours a day. Its an appropriate sentence for some offending. But electoral fraud? This is a serious offence which strikes at the heart of our democracy. And the clear message of the courts is that they don’t give a shit about it.

28 comments on “NRT: No justice for electoral fraud”

  1. Puckish Rogue 1

    Thats odd, I seem to agree with this 100%

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      As do I.

      Except for the notion that the courts don’t give a shit about it.

      The fact is we have one of the worst performing penal systems in the developed world, our recidivism rate is higher even than that of the USA, which, since we’ve done our best to imitate them has to be some perverse sort of triumph.

      Why is our penal policy so crap? Because of emotive headline grabbing second-guessing of court decisions like “don’t give a shit”, and the craven populism of our two largest minority parties.

      • Murray Olsen 1.1.1

        Agreed, OAB. Besides that, community detention is not as easy as it sounds. Some people have real problems with it and commit further offences so they’ll go to prison instead. There is very little evidence that harsher sentences improve anything except Serco’s bottom line and the sales of tissues at Nonsensical Sentencing Trust meetings.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          I’d be very interested to see even a little evidence that longer sentences improve anything, given the abundance of evidence that suggests the opposite.

          • Murray Olsen 1.1.1.1.1

            I think there is some evidence that harsher (not necessarily longer) sentences may act as a deterrent, but the counter argument is often made that the people who are deterred are unlikely to break the law anyway. In Singh’s case, knowing that system checks will pick up false enrolments is more likely to stop people than the fear of a prison sentence. There is no upside to doing it. This is probably why NAct is going for legal voter suppression instead. After all, they ship in candidates, not voters.

  2. freedom 2

    Banks must be in real trouble after all.

    This is a perfect ‘look over there’ sentence,
    so as to appear consistent when they eventually give Banks his wet bus ticket.

  3. Rich 3

    This sort of “vote harvesting” fraud will get worse if we move to Internet voting. (Especially at general elections, where the norm of voting in person provides an important safeguard).

    Unfortunately, there seems to be a strong techno-utopian push for online voting, largely because it’s cooler to vote on a computer than with boring old pencil and paper in the local school hall.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      No, it’s because private corporations want the contracts to supply the technology, and the power elite know that manipulating election results becomes far easier and quicker.

      As I have said before, I will fight tooth and nail to stop the introduction of electronic voting in NZ General Elections.

      The GCSB will also know exactly how each person in your household voted, as you vote.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        No, it’s because private corporations want the contracts to supply the technology, and the power elite know that manipulating election results becomes far easier and quicker.

        Rich was talking about internet voting and not voting machine voting. Different beasts altogether.

        As I have said before, I will fight tooth and nail to stop the introduction of electronic voting in NZ General Elections.

        I suspect that’s because you have no understanding of it.

        People fear that which they don’t understand.

        The GCSB will also know exactly how each person in your household voted, as you vote.

        So? I fail to see why this is a problem. It also, I believe, shows a failing in understanding in why we made voting secret*. Back in the 19th century before, we did so, voting in general elections was done in public spaces such as the town hall and pubs. This made it really easy to intimidate people.

        And, yes, it’s secret voting and not anonymous. We actually do need to ensure that only people who are eligible to vote do so and that people don’t vote multiple times. If the GCSB or any other NZ intelligence agency wanted to know how everyone voted they could certainly find out under the present system.

        • Hanswurst 3.1.1.1

          If the GCSB or any other NZ intelligence agency wanted to know how everyone voted they could certainly find out under the present system.

          Call me thick, but… how?

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            Because all the information* needed to do so is recorded as part of the systems to prevent voter fraud (It’s how it must be to prevent such fraud) and so all they need to do is read that information that gets held for six months for recounts. Sure, it’d be harder but they could still do it.

            Name and address is recorded upon electoral roll. When you go to vote the fact that you turned up to do so is recorded at the voting station and the voting slip you used is recorded next to your name.

            • Rich 3.1.1.1.1.1

              They could. But without a court order to investigate an electoral fraud they’d need to corrupt the Clerk of the House of Representatives so they could break the seals and access the voting papers. (Or the returning officer, in the interval before they send the papers to the Clerk).

            • Hanswurst 3.1.1.1.1.2

              I’m no sure I understand. As Rich says, the system is set up to prevent that from happening. If they did access that information, it wouldn’t be “under the present system”, it would be as a result of the present system not being adhered to. The contention in the case of electronic voting is that there may be ways of accessing the information even if the system is functioning as foreseen.

              • Draco T Bastard

                So, what you’re saying is that they’d have to break the rules first?

                What makes you think that such rules wouldn’t be in place for internet voting?

                • Hanswurst

                  No. I’m saying that other people would have to be involved in diverting or stealing physical electoral documents and failing to adhere to the protocols set up in the system. If they were to tap the information from an electronic transfer, the information would still arrive at its intended destination and they would already theoretically have the information required to discover who voted how – despite all protocols being adhered to that were set up for the system.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Not necessarily. The transfer between points would be encrypted and almost impossible to decrypt. This would be the same as what happens between as what happens between your computer and the banks computer when you do your online banking.

                    Basically, the chances of the GCSB or any other intelligence service finding out how you voted are slim.

      • Naki Man 3.1.2

        The GCSB are not interested in your voting details.
        But I agree that the introduction of electronic voting in NZ General elections is a bad thing.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      This sort of “vote harvesting” fraud will get worse if we move to Internet voting. (Especially at general elections, where the norm of voting in person provides an important safeguard).

      What a load of bollocks. People voting online would still be voting as at their registered address. This particular attempt was to try to make peoples registered address different from their actual address, which was, unsurprisingly, caught. The same would apply to internet voting.

      • Online voting is impossible to make sufficiently secure and anonymous. While I’d love to make voting more convenient, I have to agree with viper that it’s a really bad idea as things stand to vote using anything other than pen and paper. We shouldn’t use any machinery for voting that you can’t visually inspect as a layperson and see that it’s functioning in a fair and secure fashion.

        That last part is one of the big problems with electronic voting in general: because it relies on software, it’s by nature unable to be confirmed in a quick inspection by a layperson whether the code being run is fair and secure. It could be running an elaborate script that slightly favours certain candidates or parties without anyone knowing. (Hell, Republicans in the USA are doing this already, and it isn’t exactly subtle, but they’re getting away with it!)

        And voting over the internet presents additional problems to that- what if your computer is compromised when you vote online? Do you want hackers being able to vote online for anyone who’s ever voted before on a compromised computer?

        As big a fan as I am of living in the future, I want luddite elections, please. They work perfectly well, so long as you don’t put artificial legal constraints on them.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1

          Online voting is impossible to make sufficiently secure and anonymous.

          It’s already not anonymous and we can make it sufficiently secure.

          We shouldn’t use any machinery for voting that you can’t visually inspect as a layperson and see that it’s functioning in a fair and secure fashion.

          And would a lay person actually understand what they were seeing with the present system? Your delusion that the present system is anonymous would indicate that you don’t.

          That last part is one of the big problems with electronic voting in general: because it relies on software, it’s by nature unable to be confirmed in a quick inspection by a layperson whether the code being run is fair and secure.

          That’s why we have it as OpenSource – so that millions of people around the globe can check it. And also why we don’t use voting machines but internet voting.

          And voting over the internet presents additional problems to that- what if your computer is compromised when you vote online?

          There are protections against that as well such as the Security Token. Throw in secure email verification and the ability for people to check how their vote was counted and to change that vote if it’s not what they voted and I think you’ll find that it’s secure enough.

          They work perfectly well, so long as you don’t put artificial legal constraints on them.

          This whole thread is about the present system having need of security protections the same as internet voting would.

      • Rich 3.2.2

        There are all sorts of abuses when you move away from voting in person (by ballot paper or machine, but machines don’t really achieve anything and are a separate issue):

        someone (a family member or authority figure) can insist on watching you vote
        someone can offer money for a screenshot of you voting the right way
        someone can collect login credentials and vote them en masse

        and in the case of declaring a fraudulent address, it removes the safeguard of having to physically visit on polling day or get a special vote.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2.1

          There are all sorts of abuses when you move away from voting in person

          Not really.

          someone (a family member or authority figure) can insist on watching you vote

          At which point they call the police and have the family member/authority figure jailed. It’s a question of education and support.

          someone can offer money for a screenshot of you voting the right way

          This is possibly both the highest insecurity and the one least likely to happen as it would become very obvious very rapidly as anybody trying to buy votes on such a scale would be cause a stir within the community.

          someone can collect login credentials and vote them en masse

          The fact that they were all voted in quick succession from the same IP address which was not a registered polling booth would give that away rather quickly.

          and in the case of declaring a fraudulent address, it removes the safeguard of having to physically visit on polling day or get a special vote.

          Can you explain to me how going down to the polling booth prevents declaring a fraudulent address? Last time I voted at a polling booth I didn’t have to declare my address at all.

          • Rich 3.2.2.1.1

            I assume you voted in your electorate then. If you live in Tauranga and register to vote with a false address in Manukau, you’d have to either drive 200km to vote, or get a special vote at home.

  4. Prisons are the crime. Try reading:
    John Pratt, Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism (Routledge, ISBN: 9780415524735)

    or listening to him interviewed by Kim Hill
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2545326/john-pratt-contrasts-in-punishment

  5. Richard McGrath 5

    Does anyone know if Mr Singh is still a Labour Party member?

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