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Vote fraud fallout

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, September 26th, 2010 - 35 comments
Categories: corruption, elections, local body elections - Tags:

I’ve generally made it a rule never to get involved in, or pass much comment on, local body politics as I’ve learned the hard way that it is usually a dismal affair but someone engaging in systematic electoral fraud is a new low.

The signs are that a Labour candidate could be involved and if this is the case then the party will come down on them hard.

I’d imagine the maximum available penalty would banning them from Labour party membership for life – a penalty which, one would hope, would pale in comparison to that the court will mete out (and one that I would imagine many of the commenters here would consider a badge of honour).

I don’t know how it works nowadays but the selection of labour candidates for local body elections used to be done by a subcommittee of the LEC and, unless there was some special reason for getting involved, the party HQ had nothing to do with the process.

I suspect it is still done like this but that’s not going to stop the usual suspects trying to attach this scandal to the Labour party as a whole and, to be fair, they’ve been given a grand opportunity to do so.

Regardless of whether a Labour candidate is involved or not, I’d imagine the two things we’ll see come from this are a tightening up of the voting process and more due diligence done on anybody that is chosen to stand under the Labour brand.

35 comments on “Vote fraud fallout ”

  1. Anne 1

    IRISHBILL I don’t think Labour do Local Body tickets any more. Sure, they will endorse like-minded candidates (an individual or collective ticket), just as the Nats endorse the Cits & Rats, but they are not selected by the Party as such. However, if a local body candidate who is also a Labour Party member is found to have been involved in fraudulent activity then I’m sure they would be expelled forthwith.

    • lprent 1.1

      There have been and probably still are a few direct Labour tickets in various places. But generally Labour members work in coalition groups with other like-minded people on the left. Even where it is a Labour ticket, it usually isn’t run from the main party – just the local people.

      However, if a local body candidate who is also a Labour Party member is found to have been involved in fraudulent activity then I’m sure they would be expelled forthwith.

      That is what I’d expect. Personally I have very little tolerance for people rorting the electoral system. That includes this type of stacking through to the large scale rorting that I see with vehicles like Nationals Waitemata trust. (That was used to filter unaccountable money into the National party coffers ‘anonymously’ to the National party hierarchy – which I don’t believe ).

      • Herodotus 1.1.1

        I was also taken back from Q&A this morning re David Cunliffes interview with the acquisition reguarding Labours GST handout incorporating the name of a local body candidate as an example of the cost of GST in his shopping bill. He was from out West from memory. Is there not someone within Labours strategy team who
        a :thought this was a good idea or
        b: someone thought it was a bad idea but got over ruled, and if so who made the decision?
        Either way not a good look. What is the strategy team thing?
        I could cont but the RWNJ tag may stick !!!

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          Beats me. I haven’t seen it.

          Personally I avoid strategy people both in work or politics. They’re usually pretty useless at the consistency that is required to implement a strategy and to get it to work. Usually I listen to what they have to say, figure out what bits are likely to be workable and then I build those.

          From my experience that usually means that the parts I support tend to work, the parts that other doers support usually work, and the remaining bits that the strategy wallas can’t get doer support on – fail.

          I get bored with ‘message’ strategies since I’m uninterested in them. I concentrate on more basic operational systems.

          You should probably ask the people around here who are concerned about message. Irish and The Spout come to mind.

    • IrishBill 1.2

      Thanks for that, it’s been quite a while since I was involved in the Labour party and even longer since I was involved in local body politics.

      However I’d still suggest that Labour may need to tighten up on the use of its brand. Preferably in a way that doesn’t stymie grassroots democracy of course.

  2. Rich 2

    I think the Greens are even more disorganised on local body candidate endorsements, and they’re usually pretty onto it with transparancy and democracy.

    I haven’t seen anything on how the Wellington councillors got adopted, or why Celia-Wade Brown is running as an independent rather than a Green for mayor. Or indeed, why both Labour and Greens have one candidate for a three seat ward (under STV). I would have thought it would be optimal to have a full slate, or maybe that doesn’t work through a quirk of STV.

    • outofbed 2.1

      I think its a strange quirk of Local NZ politics that people don’t generally run under a party banner for local elections
      I guess Celia’s decision reflected this
      But strangely Iona is running under the Green ticket for Lampton ward , not sure why
      The Lib Dems in the Uk managed to do so well nationally because they have consistently done the hard yards in local body elections

  3. Rex Widerstrom 3

    First, if this is proven then the offender should, IMHO, be sentenced as though he’d committed sedition – because electoral fraud undermines, at it’s heart, the legitimacy of democratic government. It is indeed to be hoped the court doesn’t just impose a fine.

    Second, to blame a party for the actions of a candidate is simply nonsensical, unless of course it’s found that a conspiracy has occurred involving party officials, but even then it’s not really correct to accuse an entire party of many thousands (hundreds?) of members of somehow being corrupt.

    People who are dishonest will occasionally slip through the net, especially when parties are no more equipped to vet candidates than the average small business. To use this particular brush to tar an entire party makes as much sense as using a dishonesty conviction of an employee to claim an entire business is corrupt.

    A party’s “character”, morality, call it what you will, only comes into play when that dishonesty is exposed.

    Having said that, recent history (Field, Garrett) doesn’t provide much reason for optimism that parties faced with illegality will muster much in the way of condemnation. Indeed quite the opposite.

    • Anne 3.1

      @ Rex Widerstrom
      Watch Andrew Little and his Labour Council. If a member is shown to be involved in electoral fraud, that member will be gone by lunchtime.

      • Joe Bloggs 3.1.1

        @Andrew Little and his council: How about corruption AND fraud?

        As I recall, Labour’s reaction the last time corruption and fraud was proven in their ranks was to claim that Philip Field’s only fundamental fault was to work too hard for the many, many hundreds of people who come to his electorate office on immigration matters.

        And it was corruption aided by his Ministerial colleague who rubber stamped almost every immigration application made by Field.

        And Labour never licked him out for his corruption and fraud; Labour kicked him out when he talked about not standing for Labour.

        Bit ironic to get huffy, holier-than-thou, and sanctimonous now…

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      First, if this is proven then the offender should, IMHO, be sentenced as though he’d committed sedition – because electoral fraud undermines, at it’s heart, the legitimacy of democratic government. It is indeed to be hoped the court doesn’t just impose a fine.

      And what of those who block voted Gerry imperial powers over all he surveys, what of them?

  4. Nick K 4

    The main problem with local body politics is that the main parties are not involved for fear of losing, and then that loss impacting on them nationally. So it’s little wonder when the turnout is not much above 35%, considering my area has 22 independents, all of whom want nice libraries, pools and parks. Impossible to choose, so 65% don’t bother choosing.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Hence time to roll out the Left Voting Guides to make the job easy as. If you don’t mark down enough candidates from the “good group” because it is impossible to choose between them, then in STV some (or many) candidates from the “bad group” are going to get in.

  5. Irascible 5

    One of the problems here is the enrollment process and the linked drive to get people on the roll. While it has never been an issue before it is my contention that as we see more and more recent residents becoming interested in campaigning for acceptance through political involvement they look to importing campaign strategies from their home lands to provide an electoral base.
    So that while there is an “acceptance” of vote stacking, vote buying, etc in parts of India, Asia, the Middle East … the aspiring politico’s in NZ may see little difference in attempting to use variations of these techniques in their own campaigning.
    Because many of the aspiring politicians are not monitored by the grouping they may campaign under their enthusiasm will overwhelm their understanding of the NZ situation and regulation thus we see the fallout that we are now seeing.
    There is an urgent need for all candidates to be given a crash course in NZ electoral law before they hit the campaign trail and for local “tickets” to be monitored by their “sponsoring” organisation.
    I’m sure that if it is proven that the Papatoetoe candidates have been involved in electoral fraud their “sponsoring organisation” will discipline them as far as their constitutions allow.

  6. Gazza 6

    “Irascible ” seems to be right on the button, as this fraud seems to involve an Indian candidate and Auk is full of them it is no wonder that foreign electoral fraud practices are starting to emerge but it is unfortunate that political party names are being used.
    As it has been suggested these people should be thrown out,also they should be tagged and not be allowed to stand or join any party ever again as we have seen how a countries have been brought to their knee’s by this sort of corruption.

    • Carol 6.1

      I hope this issue isn’t use in a way to label all NZ Indians in the same way. Some people in the local Indian community fear this and are asking their community to show intolerance of the fraudulent practices:
      http://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/52/1531/Editorials/And-a-bit-of-the-Delhi-belly-in-Papatoetoe

      Those same words will be echoed here in New Zealand as revelations in the Papatoetoe events are reported in the news media in the coming weeks as police investigations progress. Unfortunately, those very words are bound to be associated with people of Indian origin – since clearly it is these who are involved in these developments, given the names in the rigged rolls.

      The right thinking larger community must co-operate with the authorities in every possible way and try to mitigate the effects of the natural human tendency to paint birds of a feather with the same brush.

  7. Irascible 7

    My Indian friends have expressed considerable concern over this ans similar issues in NZ social and political life. They have all been involved in counselling individuals about the difference between NZ social,cultural and political mores and those accepted overseas.
    The openness of the NZ political scene with the ability to be seen and photographed in the presence of a PM or MP is often seen by the individuals being counselled as evidence that they are succeeding in their newly adopted country. I would contend the enthusiasm displayed in this local body campaign fiasco is of a similar status.

  8. grumpy 8

    A bigger problem is the failure of postal voting and the pathetically low voter participation in Local Body elections. This exacerbates the effect of even quite minor fraud.

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