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Strategic voting is a bad thing unless you live in Epsom

Written By: - Date published: 7:42 am, July 30th, 2020 - 49 comments
Categories: election 2020, electoral commission, electoral systems, national, nick smith, same old national - Tags:

There is a suggestion before Parliament that electors should be able to switch between the European roll and the Maori roll more regularly.  Currently this option can only be exercised every five years with the census.  And given our MMP system you would have to wonder why the option should not be exercisable every election cycle.  You would think that like enrollment the decision of which roll you should appear on should be a regular occurence.

Nick Smith disagrees.  From TVNZ:

National has blocked a move that will allow Māori to more frequently switch between electoral rolls over fears of “manipulation”, despite the Electoral Commission saying it would be a good idea.

Currently, Māori are only able to switch between the general and Māori roll every five years at the Census. The number of Māori and general electorates is then set using results from the census and the subsequent Māori Electoral Option which allows people to choose which roll they want to be on.

The Electoral Commission recommended that be changed at the last election in 2017. It told the Justice Select Committee Māori should be able to change rolls once every three years.

Government members of the select committee supported the changes, but National Party members did not.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said: “I certainly think there should be a more flexible arrangement that allows them to make the choice to change.”

However, he said there was more work to be done to ensure allowing the switching wouldn’t impact the integrity of the electoral system.

National spokesperson on electoral reform Nick Smith said allowing for frequent switching would open up the possibility of strategic voting.

“In our view, it would be open to manipulation,” he said.”

I do think you would have political parties where you have key seats encouraging people to change one way or the other.”

Of course we should be wary of manipulation of the electorate system.  Every vote should be worth the same as every other vote.  For instance the electors of a wealthy electorate should not be able to support a puppet third party just so that their party has an extra seat in Parliament.

But that is the situation we currently have in Epsom.

Do I conclude from this that National believes that rich inner city Aucklanders voting strategically is a good thing but Tangata Whenua being able to enroll strategically is a bad thing?

49 comments on “Strategic voting is a bad thing unless you live in Epsom ”

  1. Gosman 1

    There is NOTHING wrong with strategic voting in an electorate to increase the amount of representation from the part of the political spectrum you like (Although this has not been the case in regard to Epsom since 2008). If Labour wants to do a deal with the Greens in relation to Auckland Central more power to them. That is DIFFERENT to changing the fundamental set up of the electoral system itself. The number of Maori seats are set based on the number of voters who enroll. If they then swap to the general roll AFTER this time you can get a perverse situation where the number of voters in a Maori seat will be much less than for a general seat.

    • froggleblocks 1.1

      I agree, these are obviously separate situations.

      I share Andrew Little's concern, if the number of Maori / General electorates stay fixed but the number of people on the roles can change each election, that seems tricky. Similarly if the Maori / General electorates are changing every single election because of roll swapping, that also seems undesirable.

      I think at minimum the choice to change between rolls should apply if someone who is eligible to be on the maori roll (whether they are or not) moves their permanent residence between elections so they would now be in a different general electorate. That catches the cases where someone used to be happy in general electorate X voting for candidate X, but have now moved to general electorate Y, don't like any of the candidates and would rather vote in the maori electorate. This still allows for a justified change in roll without so much chance of manipulation, and would greatly reduce the number of people changing between rolls in any given election.

    • Stuart Munro 1.2

      There is NOTHING wrong with strategic voting in an electorate to increase the amount of representation from the part of the political spectrum you like

      Except to the degree that it reduces the representation of other groups, especially if they are poorly represented. Tax evaders are already overrepresented in parliament.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    That photo of Nick trying out his campaign speech on the grass is heart-warming. Obviously he has gone green. Looks like the grass cracked a joke in response, to which Nick is happily reacting…

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    I like Micky’s suggestion for Māori voters moving roll, to do so in sync with General Elections, i.e. 3 yearly rather than 5 yearly.

    As for Epsom, while Incels should be entitled to political representation–which they surely get from ACT–the arrangement with Nats is a travesty of democratic intent imo, though it is totally permissible with current MMP rules.

    Various parties and submitters did try to lower the threshold in the last MMP Review under the Key administration, partially to try and negate or lessen the benefits of “coat tailing”, but NZ National would not entertain that.

    • Gosman 3.1

      The threshold rule should be done away with completely. Any political party that can get the percentage equivalent of 1 MP out of the total number of MP's in Parliament should be able to be represented. There is no logical reason why we have the 5% threshold rule other than that is what the Germans have. It would not have made a substantive difference to the make up of most of the different Parliaments over the years if we had done away with it.

      • Incognito 3.1.1

        Thought experiment for you:

        Four candidates vie for an electorate. Three candidates receive 7,000 votes each and one candidate receives 7,100 votes and is declared the winner. Should this candidate represent their electorate in NZ Parliament? If yes, can they claim to be/represent ‘a party’?

        • RedBaronCV 3.1.1.1

          We'd need something like single transferable vote between candidates to make some thing like that fairer.

          • Incognito 3.1.1.1.1

            The F-word gets thrown around a lot these days 😉

            I’d be inclined to frame it in terms of democratic representation in a national parliament. In other words, from the PoV of voters and electorates and not of individual candidates.

            • RedBaronCV 3.1.1.1.1.1

              True – us voters all want an equal say but we also want to move on the ones we don't like – such is our consistency
              I dream of STV for the Nelson electorate

              • Incognito

                For me, it is not about like/dislike but about proper democratic representation and I think there are ways to improve MMP without going too ‘radical’ if we want to stick with a representative democracy. That said, I think there are better ways of achieving this, again without going too ‘radical’ but those would mean moving away from the current MMP system that we have.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Green Party policy is for preferential voting in electorates so, the more votes for the Greens, the more chance that you will get your wish.

      • Tricledrown 3.1.2

        The Germans have it to stop fringe groups holding parliament to hostage ie fascist ingels.

  4. Bearded Git 4

    …..or Auckland Central

  5. Ed1 5

    I'm inclined to think that selection of roll should be aligned with the review of electorates. All electorates have movement in number of voters through deaths, new voters and changes in residence. Perhaps we need more frequent reviews of electorates, but that should apply to all electorates, not just some. My priorities for electoral reform would be: Removal of the coat-tailing rule, then reduce or remove the threshold, and then consider a 4 year term.

  6. Chris 6

    "Justice Minister Andrew Little said: “I certainly think there should be a more flexible arrangement that allows them to make the choice to change.”

    So current rules give the option of registering on either the Maori or general roll, but once you've made the choice you're locked in for five years, even though the electoral cycle is three years? That's not really a choice then, is it? But of course, it's only Maori Mr Smith, so it doesn't really matter, does it?

    (One thing, though, Mr Little – what's with the "them"? We might expect that kind of language from the likes of Bennett and Collins et al but the sooner we jettison this way of talking the better.)

    • Gosman 6.1

      No change to electoral law should be made without broad support from parties represented in Parliament. Otherwise it is at risk of being seen to be done for partisan reasons.

      • Incognito 6.1.1

        Change to electoral law should be made. Otherwise it is at risk of being seen as maintaining status quo for partisan reasons.

        FIFY

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        Change to electoral law should happen when it is proven to be wrong and that the change has broad support by the people.

        Leaving it to get broad support in the political parties would delay necessary change as the politicians seek to protect their power.

    • Gabby 6.2

      Do you know what the preceding sentence was?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      So current rules give the option of registering on either the Maori or general roll, but once you've made the choice you're locked in for five years, even though the electoral cycle is three years? That's not really a choice then, is it?

      Why should it even be a choice?

      An interesting point about the Māori Electorates and how they came about.

      Back in the 19th century, not long after NZ became a democracy, the politicians realised that only allowing male land-owners to vote broke faith with the Treaty as Māori didn't own land individually as the British did and thus Māori males couldn't vote. To address this the Māori Electorates were created which allowed Māori to vote.

      But, this is important, it considered only a temporary fix and that they were to be disestablished once a better system was put in place. That better system came about not too long after when everyone, male and female, was given the right to vote whether landed or not.

      So, nearly 130 years later, why do we still have Māori electorates?

      • Chris 6.3.1

        Perhaps the purpose of having Maori seats has changed since then? And it’s now a matter of seeing value in maintaining the Maori seats?

      • solkta 6.3.2

        What crap. You think a first past the post electorate based system would give Maori representation?

        We still have the Maori electorates because Maori want them and it gives just a small portion of what actually honouring the Treaty would be.

        • Chris 6.3.2.1

          The ability to party vote may provide a modicum of rebalance in terms of the Treaty, and the Maori seats might provide that little bit more again, but things are still far from fair. The problem with DTB's analysis is that it assumes giving everyone the vote fixed the problem the Maori seats were intended to fix temporarily. And it's likely that our belief in the importance of affirmative action/positive discrimination is much stronger now, too.

          • solkta 6.3.2.1.1

            The thing is that the Treaty does not just guarantee them representation but rather absolute chieftainship over their land, people and all their treasures. The 'problem' that the Maori seats were created to fix was not the problem as Maori understood it.

          • Draco T Bastard 6.3.2.1.2

            The problem with DTB's analysis is that it assumes giving everyone the vote fixed the problem the Maori seats were intended to fix temporarily.

            It did fix the problem that the Māori seats were a temporary fix to – the inability of Māori to vote in the elections.

            We now have the problem that electorate seats, especially Māori electorate seats, cause in misrepresentation:

            https://teara.govt.nz/en/nga-mangai-maori-representation/page-3

            In 2014, 22% of MPs were Māori, while Māori were 15% of New Zealand’s total population.

            The Truth about the Māori Seats

            The 1986 Royal Commission, perhaps wisely, did not specifically consider these wider questions. That said, the Commission did note that its recommendation to abolish the Maori seats would“be of real benefit in helping break down separateness and division within our community in the sense of encouraging Maori and non-Maori to look to the interests of the other.”299Yet, as we have seen, the seats were not abolished. Separatism and division still remains.

        • Incognito 6.3.2.2

          Only about half of all Māori are on the Māori Electoral Roll.

  7. Peter 7

    You conclude right.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    You would think that like enrollment the decision of which roll you should appear on should be a regular occurence.

    And here's me thinking that being Māori would be, like, permanent.

    Of course we should be wary of manipulation of the electorate system. Every vote should be worth the same as every other vote. For instance the electors of a wealthy electorate should not be able to support a puppet third party just so that their party has an extra seat in Parliament.

    If you’re concerned about that then get rid of electorates.

    • RedBaronCV 8.1

      There are some of us who have skin in both games so to speak. But having switched I'm likely to never go back. Although it might be tempting if I moved to an electorate where I wanted to get rid of a particular MP. Nelson?

      However I have thought that electorate selection could be by tribal links not geographic but that could be a little hard to administer.

    • Incognito 8.2

      If you’re concerned about that then get rid of electorates.

      Yes, excellent suggestion.

      • Enough is Enough 8.2.1

        To get rid of electorates would be to get rid of local voices. What the good people of Gore want of their government is probably not the same thing as what people living in Parnell want of their government.

        It is important that the people of Gore, and every other region have a voice in Parliament, otherwise we will be left with 120 professional politicians who live in the Thorndon bubble.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1.1

          There are ways to ensure that the local voice is heard even if electorates are removed. Of course, those ways do require more democracy such as referendums.

          And local issues should be addressed by the local council.That's what they're for.

          • Enough is Enough 8.2.1.1.1

            A referendum would not in any way help a regional community with a small population that is ignored by Wellington and the rest of the country.

            Local representation ensures their voice is at the very least heard.

            • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1.1.1.1

              Local representation ensures their voice is at the very least heard.

              No, really, it doesn't.

              1. An MP can only make decisions at the national level. That's as it should be. Making decisions at the local level is not an MPs job.
              2. There is no referendum in the present system to actually allow the local voice to be heard. Yes, a referendum is required every time to hear the local voice.
              3. As it stands, the local MP is going to listen to the loudest voices and that won't be the locals. That will be businesses.
              4. Most MPs are Backbench MPs and the only MPs really listened to are the ones in cabinet – the ministers.

              So, no, local representation doesn't get the locals heard.

              • Enough is Enough

                I think we are taking about different things.

                I am talking about local voices being heard for decision making at a national level. Local matters like the day rubbish gets collected can sit with the council, I'm not arguing against that.

                I know you don't believe in representative democracy, and prefer participatory democracy so, I think we can just agree to disagree,

                • Draco T Bastard

                  I think we are taking about different things.

                  Nope. Our system really doesn't allow local voices to be heard in parliament no matter how much you want to believe that it does.

        • froggleblocks 8.2.1.2

          I'd be more in favour of just having 120 electorates with STV used in all of them.

          Or failing that, 60 electorates from which 2 members each are elected, again with an STV-style ranked choice, so the top 2 candidates from each electorate go to parliament.

          I'm not so keen on the list MPs we have in parliament, a lot of them seem like wastes of space, and the idea of being able to 'vote a badly performing mp out' is better retained when everyone has to win an electorate to get in, vs losing an electorate and getting in on the list anyway.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1.2.1

            Electorates, especially as they are now, get in the way of democracy.

            And a badly performing list MP can be removed, as long as the waka jumping laws are kept, by the party.

            Whereas electorate MPs get to stay there until their term is up even when they're removed from the party that they got voted in with.

            • froggleblocks 8.2.1.2.1.1

              Disagree, local voice is important as said by EiE.

              Another thing to consider is if you had 60 electorates with 2 MPs each, there would be cases of getting 2 MPs from different parties to represent electorates. Those MPs are likely to work together to better support local views (turning up at events together, that sort of thing), which would overall likely foster greater co-operation amongst MPs and thus parties in Parliament, rather than the entirely adversarial system we have now.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Disagree, local voice is important as said by EiE

                Local voices aren't heard in the present system.

                Another thing to consider is if you had 60 electorates with 2 MPs each, there would be cases of getting 2 MPs from different parties to represent electorates. Those MPs are likely to work together to better support local views

                Nope, they won't. If that was going to happen then we would already see it.

                • froggleblocks

                  Local voices aren't heard in the present system.

                  They are on conscience votes, and electorate MPs can lobby for things to be done in their electorates – see also Shane Jones and his bribery of Northland for a crass example. Making sure all MPs are electorate MPs is part of moving to a system where local voices are heard more than they are now. Hence why changes to the "present system" are required.

                  Nope, they won't. If that was going to happen then we would already see it.

                  So you think when structural changes are made to the system, it will have precisely 0 affect on how elements within that system operate. All I can say is Wow.

                  You need only refer to Sarah Dowie’s valedictory speech to see how a more collegial atmosphere across parliament could help, as well as the cross-party women’s group that have just made gains against FGM.

                  Constructing a system that forces MPs from different parties to cooperate together more does not seem like a bad idea. The Greens have long been dispirited about the un-cooperative and competitive nature of Parliament and this is a suggestion that would help to foster the sort of attitude they want to see in politics.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Making sure all MPs are electorate MPs is part of moving to a system where local voices are heard more than they are now.

                    1. No it won't as it doesn't now
                    2. That's a really bad idea. There's a reason why we moved from a full electorate system. Going back to it will make things just as bad as they were then.

                    So you think when structural changes are made to the system, it will have precisely 0 affect on how elements within that system operate. All I can say is Wow.

                    I didn't say that structural change wouldn't make a difference. I said that the structural change that you've outlined won't make the difference that you believe.

                    We do need a more cooperative system but that's not what you're going to get from having more electorate MPs. What you suggest brings about more competition and hung parliaments. Its a worse suggestion than bringing back an upper house.

                    • froggleblocks

                      That's a really bad idea. There's a reason why we moved from a full electorate system. Going back to it will make things just as bad as they were then.

                      Except I'm not suggesting going back to what we had.

                      We do need a more cooperative system but that's not what you're going to get from having more electorate MPs.

                      Which is not the only thing I'm suggesting.

                      I get the impression you haven't actually read what I wrote.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I get the impression you haven't actually read what I wrote.

                      I read what you wrote – its stupidity writ large.

                      I now question if you understood what you wrote.

  9. greywarshark 9

    Nick Smith one of the purring National pussies; 'Don't change anything unless it suits Me, Me.' Acshually theres a song for him and his keen electoral supporters, mostly aged men and mostly well comfortably off. Nick has always been good with money.

    Down in the boondocks is about the 'other' people who want to make changes. Oh sorry, you're not on the list of people who I listen to – (to whom I listen?).

  10. Ken 10

    The Nats don't have the luxury of voting for other parties when their own party is in danger of sinking without a trace.

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