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Voting ban for prisoners irrational

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, March 19th, 2010 - 146 comments
Categories: electoral systems, law and "order" - Tags: ,

Paul Quinn’s Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill appears to be unjustifiably inconsistent with the electoral rights affirmed by s 12 of the Bill of Rights Act. The effect would be a blanket disenfranchisement of convicted persons detained in prisons on election day.

People who are not serious offenders will be disenfranchised. Fine defaulters may be sentenced to imprisonment as an alternative sentence. I doubt that this group of people can be characterised as serious offenders such that they should forfeit their right to vote.

Under the Bill, the Electoral Act would continue to disqualify electors being detained for a period exceeding three years in a hospital or secure facility in the context of a criminal process. An example of this is where a person has been found by a Court on conviction to be mentally impaired and is detained under an order made by the Court for a period exceeding three years. If the mentally impaired person was detained for less than three years, the Bill would not disqualify the person from registering as an elector. The Bill would therefore introduce irrational inconsistencies in the law where mentally impaired prisoners detained in a hospital or secure facility for less than three years could vote while all prisoners serving sentences less than three years in prisons would be disenfranchised.

The blanket ban on prisoner voting is both under and over inclusive. It is under inclusive because a prisoner convicted of a serious violent offence who serves a two and a half year sentence in prison between general elections will be able to vote. It is over inclusive because someone convicted and given a one-week sentence that coincided with a general election would be unable to vote.

The disenfranchising provisions of this Bill will depend entirely on the date of sentencing, which bears no relationship either to the objective of the Bill or to the conduct of the prisoners whose voting rights are taken away. The irrational effects of the Bill also cause it to be disproportionate to its objective.

—————————–

The above was written by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson. Despite that, he and his National Party will be voting for this “irrational” and “disproportionate” Bill at least through its first reading. The saddest part is that, back in more enlightened days before they were captured by the kneejerking Sensible Sentencing-types, National were the ones who allowed prisoners sentenced to less than three years to vote in the first place after a court case pointed out that blanket disenfranchisement was contrary to the Bill of Rights.

Here’s hoping that the Simon Powers and Chris Finlaysons will have to will-power to stand up to the jackbooted wing of the National caucus before it’s too late.

146 comments on “Voting ban for prisoners irrational”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    It’s a blatant attempt to introduce a precedent for the introduction of Jim Crow laws from the ACT party, whose every day in government shows their utter contempt for idea of democracy. Once in place, they’ll push for it to be extended to life after release, and for all sorts of other untermenschen (beneficiaries who have been convicted of fraud, etc etc) to be included.

    • The Baron 1.1

      What are you on about?

      Your and your ilks’ hysterical over-reactions to things such as this are as humourous as they are desperate and tragic. Do you really believe that anyone in our parliament is a modern day Jim Crow? And if you do believe that, does that not say more about either your poor sense of history, or your pretty dire knowledge of NZ politics?

      • Bored 1.1.1

        As a matter of fact I do, now who was that ACT nutter who recently went on about paying people to be sterilised?

      • felix 1.1.2

        They want to take the right to vote away from a group of our citizens.

        If that doesn’t give you cause for concern, Baron, then you deserve to be tarred with the same brush as the fascists who promote such disgusting laws.

        Having read some of your previous comments, however, I imagine you’d be quietly comfortable in such company.

        • SHG 1.1.2.1

          Next thing you know they’ll be taking the vote away from children and the insane!

          • felix 1.1.2.1.1

            I assume you’re trying to make the point that because we deny the vote to those groups already we should have no problem with choosing any other group of people to exclude.

            That makes it ok then, does it?

      • Galeandra 1.1.3

        Dear Baron what is an ilk?

  2. A Nonny Moose 2

    Bene-bashing, disenfranchising youth, Women Affairs disdain, barely veiled racism, classism, now this.

    Shit, just give the vote to white dudes 45-65 earning 100K+ and be done with it. Let us know how you really stand Nat.

    Heh: antispam word – “responsibilitys”

  3. tc 3

    Surprised I am not…..this mob are sooo predictable, next week it’s bash the bene’s turn again.

  4. The knee-jerk association of democratic rights as a citizen (which one remains even when sentenced) with a retributive approach to justice is not surpising in a Government marked by a lack of intellectual clout, and an overdose of populism. Mr Finlayson is thought, by some, to be an exception in terms of intellect. One wonders if he has the intellectual courage to follow his own advice, or is he a cypher? To be fair, there were times when my own lot, when in government, might have shown the same consistency, too.

  5. Tigger 5

    Quinn’s law is designed to be a distraction – hey look over here at these vile prisoners who want some rights – no, don’t look at the whale caracasses and strip mining of the Coromandel – that’s right, icky prisoners with tattoos and rape on their mind – you don’t want them voting for those lefties do you?

    Too much to hope that the National caucus will see sense here?

    • You are right but either by planning or by accident they are running a number of diversions right now and they all smell. (Hat tip to Blip) the really odious things that are festering right now include:

      – Supporting commercial whaling
      – Mining Conservation land
      – Turning Auckland into a Corporate city
      – Sacrificing Teacher training funding for National Standards
      – Cutting night school courses so that Private Schools can get more funding
      – Raising GST for poor and giving tax cuts to the uber rich
      – Slashing public service jobs

      And there are many, many more. Diversions are fine but they need something they can be proud about.

      • Robb 5.1.1

        I thought the proposed GST rise was right across the board and all were potentially getting a tax cut of some description. Did I miss something?

        • lprent 5.1.1.1

          Potentially describes it perfectly….. Obviously the detail hasn’t been released.

          But what has been signalled is that the rich will get a big tax cut. Most, but not all, other taxpayers will get partially compensated for GST, but not for the changes in property taxation on landlords going into the rent. In other words if you rent, you’re going to be screwed over.

          Oh and Bill English is frantically dampening down expectations now treasury has had a look at the numbers. So even the partial compensation is likely to disappear. Good time to be rich eh? NACT government rewards those who fill their coffers…

          But you should really find a post that describes the forecast tax changes and comment there if you want more detailed info.

        • a human 5.1.1.2

          yeah tax cut funny

          you get 5c i get 2c

  6. BLiP 6

    First they came for the prisoners . . .

  7. Bored 7

    RW and Tigger, be cautious when thinking that this is a smokescreen distraction or otherwise (even if it is). Adolf and his lack of intellectual rigour was thought to be a joke till he took the reins. The lesson is that theres no smoke without fire and if you let this type of cumbustable smoulder you will get burnt.

    • Tigger 7.1

      Don’t mistake me thinking it is a smokescreen for dismissing it or ignoring it. When appropriate I’ll be sure to email Finlayson asking him how he could vote for something that his own advice says is an affront.

      And even it is not designed as a smokescreen, it will be used as such. Win-win for them (they get to slam prisoners AND distract from GST) and lose-lose for anyone who cares about decency and justice.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Perhaps National believes that convicted criminals are more likely to be voting for the left than for the right.

    • Bright Red 8.1

      which would be the most corrupt reason possible for this law.

      • TightyRighty 8.1.1

        would have to agree with BR there. it’s a very strange bill to be presenting. there is no need for it really and the anomalies make it administratively stupid. and if national is doing this to remove the right to vote for potential left wing voters, then it is no better than the last government.

  9. Bored 9

    Just recalled they do this in the USA, legally disenfranchising of lots of the “wrong” sort of voters even after their release from prison. It got Bush elected.

    • BLiP 9.1

      That, plus fraud.

    • Bright Red 9.2

      convicted felons are permanently kicked off the roll in many states or for long periods after release in others. It’s a great way to stop blacks voting, expecially when you ‘accidentally’ add the names of a bunch of people who aren’t convicted felons

  10. big bruv 10

    You worried about losing votes Marty?

    • Bright Red 10.1

      clearly Chris Finlayson is worried about having a law that is irrational. Aren’t you?

      • big bruv 10.1.1

        Nope, criminals should not get the vote, come to think of it, nor should those on the DPB or the Dole.

        • BLiP 10.1.1.1

          . . . . what’s the “fapping” noise?

        • Bright Red 10.1.1.2

          while you’ve got your jackboots on, who else shouldn’t get the vote, big bruv?

          Lefties?
          Union members? (who are of course members of the biggest democratic organisations in the country)
          Public sector employees? Including Police and soldiers?
          Superannuitants/invalids? (they live off the state like people on the dole)
          People with low IQ? How low? (I suggest you take a test before answering)

          • big bruv 10.1.1.2.1

            Bright Red

            Union members: They should have the vote, after all, their union dues are used to campaign for left wing parties irrepsective of their own personal political beleiefs.

            Public Sector employees: This is an interesting one, the great tradition of the public service was that all public service workers were (or should be) neutral, given that Labour stacked the public service full of their own cronies between 99 and 08 there is a good argument to say that public sector employees should be banned from voting, however, given they pay tax I would support them retaining the right to vote.

            Superannuitants/invalids: Where did I say anything about Superannuitants not having the vote?, they have paid their tax and they have the right to have a say.
            As for invalids, well given that there are thousands and thousands of people who are on the invalid/sickness benefits who should not be there due to Dyson and Labour shifting dole bludgers onto the sickness/invalids benefit then this needs a closer look.

            People with low IQ: Of course they should have the vote, how else would Labour have any MP’s?

            • felix 10.1.1.2.1.1

              their union dues are used to campaign for left wing parties irrepsective of their own personal political beleiefs.

              Can you give an example of how this would occur?

              • The Baron

                Through their membership of the labour party and their parallel campaigns?

                Try to keep up Felix

              • felix

                But that doesn’t actually happen, Baron. You choose whether any part of your fees is spent supporting any political party by ticking the appropriate box on the union membership form.

                You’re just regurgitating the nonsense you’ve heard from retards like Bruv and Farrar.

                Keep up.

              • The Baron

                Soooo the EMPU is is not an institutional member of the labour party?

                News to me.

                I concede on the second point – thank you for correcting me.

              • Bright Red

                “Soooo the EMPU is is not an institutional member of the labour party?”

                Affliated unions like the EMPU are affliated by democratic vote of the members. They give something like a dollar a member to the Labour party a year.

            • Bright Red 10.1.1.2.1.2

              “Public Sector employees: given that Labour stacked the public service full of their own cronies between 99 and 08 there is a good argument to say that public sector employees should be banned from voting

              Public sector employees are employed by their CEOs, who are employed by the astate service commission. There is simply no mechanism for Laobur to employ thousands of people of its choosing in the public service

              “however, given they pay tax I would support them retaining the right to vote.”

              people on the dole pay tax

              “Superannuitants/invalids: Where did I say anything about Superannuitants not having the vote?, they have paid their tax and they have the right to have a say.”

              People on the dole pay tax

              “As for invalids, well given that there are thousands and thousands of people who are on the invalid/sickness benefits who should not be there due to Dyson and Labour shifting dole bludgers onto the sickness/invalids benefit then this needs a closer look.”

              Invalid/sickness numbers are increasing faster under National. There was no transferring of people from the dole to sickness/invalids. It’s just another myth.

              “People with low IQ: Of course they should have the vote, how else would Labour have any MP’s?”

              There’s no apostrophe in ‘MPs’

              • BLiP

                That pedantic MP’s callow fawning in the MPs’ lounge left me wondering about the point of MPs altogether.

              • big bruv

                “People on the dole pay tax”

                What utter rubbish, people (bludgers) on the dole earn NOTHING so how can they pay tax?.

                “There was no transferring of people from the dole to sickness/invalids. It’s just another myth.”

                Still trying to rewrite history aye Bright Red, thousands of people were transferred from the dole to invalid/sickness benefit under Labour, this is one of the reasons Labour were booted out of government.

                • lprent

                  bb: You are wrong. You pay tax on your benefits; including the dole, superannuation, sickness benefit, etc… A moments thought would provide you the reason that you pay taxes under those circumstances.

                  Damn.. stop that straining… It looks like a bad dump experience….

              • felix

                thousands of people were transferred from the dole to invalid/sickness benefit under Labour, this is one of the reasons Labour were booted out of government.

                Then you’ll have no trouble demonstrating that by reference to the relevant stats, eh Bruv?

              • J. Andal

                “People on the dole pay tax’
                What utter rubbish, people (bludgers) on the dole earn NOTHING so how can they pay tax?.

                12.5%, or the soon to be 15% GST. I know because I’m on a student allowance and it contributes heavily to the cost of food.

              • Zorr

                LMAO

                bigbruv… want proof people on the dole pay tax?
                http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures/deskfile/main_benefits_rates/unemployment_benefit_tables.htm

                And that is just the UB.

                Feel free to maintain your RWNJ stupidity in the face of real evidence though. It wouldn’t be as much fun if you didn’t.

                captcha: read

            • RedBack 10.1.1.2.1.3

              Bigbruv’s latest gem: “given that Labour stacked the public service full of their own cronies between 99 and 08 there is a good argument to say that public sector employees should be banned from voting, however, given they pay tax I would support them retaining the right to vote.”

              -Gosh really bigbruv? How generous of you.

              I gather you would have conclusive proof…. you know pesky stats to back up that ludicrous comment.

              Maybe Labour should retaliate and ban all financial sector employees from voting because they will all obviously be facist money grabbing National/ACT voters. Mind you I don’t have any stats to back this sweeping ficticious statement up ……but I thought if I was communicating on your level bigbruv …why bother.

        • B 10.1.1.3

          So bigbruv if you are made redundant and can’t find work you are not allowed to vote? Or if your husband/wife/partner leaves you and you are left with babies or preschool children to look after so cant work you cannot vote??!!!

          • big bruv 10.1.1.3.1

            “So bigbruv if you are made redundant and can\\’t find work you are not allowed to vote?”

            Not when you are receiving the dole. If you are not contributing then you have no right to tell those who are how their tax dollars should be spent.

            “Or if your husband/wife/partner leaves you and you are left with babies or preschool children to look after so cant work you cannot vote??!!!”

            You can still vote, all you have to do is get a job and not sponge off the workers people.

            • felix 10.1.1.3.1.1

              How about redistributing those votes according to the amount of tax paid? Pay more tax, get more votes.

              What say you?

              • big bruv

                Nope, the concept of one man one vote appeals to me.

                The problem I have is letting those who do not contribute have a say, dole and dpb bludgers should not have the vote, when and if they get jobs then they can have their say like everybody else.

                • lprent

                  Nope, the concept of one man one vote appeals to me.

                  bb: Actually I believe you. Unfortunately I also get the impression that your ideal state would have one man (yourself) with the only vote.

              • felix

                Where do you believe the right to participate in democracy springs form BB? Sounds like you think it comes from being a taxpayer. Is that about right?

                Edit: What I mean is, you say “one man one vote” but you also seem to be saying “one taxpayer one vote”.

                It can’t be both.

  11. Olwyn 11

    An extreme but almost possible scenario: a supercity controlled by act-supporting businesspeople, if you can call running service utilities set up by governments and councils “business” in the strong sense, an election approaches, and suddenly droves of people who lack the right look are banged up for jay-walking, chewing gum spitting, tail gating, misuse of supermarket trolleys, etc. Just for a few days.

    It seems as if low-level think tank members from the Bush administration have found gainful employment here as policy advisers. At least we have not gone so far (yet) as to ban felons from voting for life, which some American commentators think is a policy aimed at reducing the number of black voters there.

    • Not “almost possible”, not possible at all.

      You can’t even be arrested for most of those offences, let alone imprisoned. And the idea that all these people would get their trials held so quickly is laughable.

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    Funny.

    2 righties in-thread; both see only one reason for this.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    PB “Funny.
    2 righties in-thread; both see only one reason for this.”

    I did say that with tongue in cheek!! Remember, this is only supporting the bill through the first reading, so it may not proceed much further without substantial changes.

    From a philisophical perspective, I do wonder whether prisoners should be able to vote. After all, for every right there is often a responsibility. In this case, there is an implied responsibility to behave within the rules that a democratic society has set. By stepping outside those boundaries should an individual keep the right to vote for the system that sets the boundaries? After all, prison is a limitation of individual freedom. It is just a matter of deciding how far that limitation should extend.

    • BLiP 13.1

      Why, then, would a released prisoner – because, tshitfield, they still do get out despite your best efforts – want to be a part of a society they have had no say in?

    • Bright Red 13.2

      you’re missing all the irrational parts, ts.

      A person in for one day, election day, doens’t get to vote, a person in for nearly 3 years can under this law.

      The concept of not letting people in for more than three years vote is that they won’t be out during the term anyway and it should be part of the punishment for serious offences. But when a person on a lesser sentence is released they’re coming back into society with their debt paid, why shouldn’t they have their say on who runs that society?

    • Pascal's bookie 13.3

      Yeah, I figured you were joking. So was I. Words in jest, etc.

      In this case, there is an implied responsibility to behave within the rules that a democratic society has set. By stepping outside those boundaries should an individual keep the right to vote for the system that sets the boundaries?

      Hmmm. It’s interesting for sure. I’d say that by serving time in prison they are following the rules the society has set. The ‘do the crime, do the time’ rule cuts both ways.

      My turn: If we deprive them of the right to vote, then by what right to we continue to detain them?

    • Pascal's bookie 13.4

      I also assume you relieve them of their responsibilty to pay taxes, rates or fulfill any other contracts they would otherwise be liable for?

  14. randal 14

    all national party legislation is fundamentally irrational when it is not malfeasant.
    and it is incoherent and government ‘lite’.

  15. tsmithfield 15

    BLiP

    “Why, then, would a released prisoner because, tshitfield, they still do get out despite your best efforts want to be a part of a society they have had no say in?”

    Your argument could be applied to any aspect of imprisonment. For instance, by your argument, why would they want to be part of a society the can’t participate in? Imprisonment, by its very nature, does impose limitations on human freedoms. Why should removal of the right to vote not be one of those limitations? Why should your right to vote be any more special than your right to liberty?

    • BLiP 15.1

      Sorry to use a term you might find offensive, but, ‘prisoner rehabilitation” is greatly enhanced when those on the inside have a tangible sense of connectedness with the lives of their families and community to which they will return. Removing such links will result in increased crime. Until such time as your ilk has achieved the death penalty for every criminal, you can’t change the simple fact that by denying prisoners’ right to vote you are victimising the rest of society.

      However, if twisting democracy is your fetish for today, how about removing the right for absentee voters to participate? Long-term Aussie and UK based Kiwis have less interest in the election outcome than those actually in the country.

      BTW, you see that little “reply” button underneath each comment – you can use it to limit the spread of your bullshit from one end of the thread to another – or is taking up space your real reason for commenting? – or, perhaps, you haven’t realised yet that this blog is a little more advanced than your usual hovel? – on the other hand, and most likely, it could just be that coherence is not your strong point.

      • tsmithfield 15.1.1

        Since you seem keen on dishing out the adhominems, perhaps you would like to confirm you use the name “BLiP” because you see your self as insignificant, transitory, hardly noticeable, and a tad annoying.

        Getting my own adhom out of the way, perhaps an analogy will help you understand my point.
        If someone is red-carded in a game of soccer, for instance, for breaking one rule, they no longer participate in any aspect of the game while they are red-carded. They can’t choose just to run around as a defender at the back of the field for instance. Of course, that doesn’t stop them getting further coaching or training to improve themselves for when they can play again. They just can’t play in the game, thats all.

        Applying that analogy to the rules of society, why should someone who is “red-carded” have some special right to participate in the voting rule when they have been excluded from the others?

        • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1

          “Applying that analogy to the rules of society, why should someone who is “red-carded’ have some special right to participate in the voting rule when they have been excluded from the others?”

          Am I to take it from this analogy then that you are proposing that they also be relieved from paying taxes, abiding by contracts and all of the other ‘rules’?

          • tsmithfield 15.1.1.1.1

            While they are “red-carded” they are unable to generate income to pay taxes (other than what they can legitimately earn in prison). Therefore, they should have no responsibility for paying taxes while in prison. They should not be able to enter into contracts while in prison either. So, yes, they should be isolated from those rules. Of course, when they are back in the game again, the rules start applying again.

            • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1.1.1

              What about the income they can earn while in prison from any business they may own, or investments they might hold? Tax free for the duration?

              And if we deprive them of the right to vote, then by what right to we continue to detain them? If a prisoner has no rights then they have no obligations, by your reckoning, so what right do we have to restrict their liberty?

              • tsmithfield

                The consequence of them not keeping their obligations is the loss of their rights. The first leads to the second. A buiseness is a separate entity to an individual so any income is taxable. And they probably shouldn’t be able to generate income while in prison. Thus investment income should be confiscated.

                This is different to their basic human rights. For instance, a red-carded player still has certain rights. Just not the freedom to play in the game, thats all. Since imprisonment is effectively exclusion from the “game” of society, and since voting is one of the rules of society, then prisoners should not be able to vote.

              • Pascal's bookie

                Why is it different from these alleged basic human rights, that don’t apparently, include liberty?

                And by what right would, presumably the state, confiscate their profits, given they no longer have a vote?

              • Pascal's bookie

                And confiscating their profits is of course increasing their tax to 100%, rather than eliminating it.

                I don’t think this scheme makes much sense.

              • BLiP

                I know how it makes sense to him: if the prisoners have absolutely no rights they can be treated as slaves to work in the private prisons in which he just invested. Simple, really.

        • Bored 15.1.1.2

          TS, you mention “you use the name “BLiP’ because you see your self as insignificant, transitory, hardly noticeable, and a tad annoying”.

          I dont know who BLiP really is but I would like to think that he has the modesty and self awareness to understand that as a flash of existence in eternity we amount to little more, and in the sense of space and time we are exactly that.

          Do you think you are any more significant?

          • tsmithfield 15.1.1.2.1

            I don’t like using adhominems. However, if you look at recent posts to me, he has been dishing them out with gay abandon. So I thought it was about time to return serve.

          • BLiP 15.1.1.2.2

            Also, despite all the trial-runs in the world, all the data structure testing and prototype tweaking, blips still pop up – unexpected and in the strangest places, leaving designers, manufacturers and customers alike confounded and bemused. Sure, the temptation is to just write them off as “just a blip”, go ahead, underestimate all you like, but . . . at your peril. Just ask Toyota or Telecom. 🙂

        • BLiP 15.1.1.3

          A simple analogy for a simple mind – a bit like describing Aotearoa as just one big business.

          However, and fortunately, real life isn’t anything like a game of footy, its not some 90 minute run around the park – further, the expelled player still has full access to all the resources they had before the game started and, if so minded, can choose to stop playing altogether and take up coaching so as to have greater control of the whole season, never mind the one game.

          Your tragic “life is soccer” paradigm strengthens my position in that the absentee voters are like those players that never turn for practise or post-match shenanigans let alone stand up at the AGM for a position on the committee. They are worse than useless.

          Go on . . . have another try.

          • tsmithfield 15.1.1.3.1

            You seem to put “voting” on a plane that is higher than other rights that are withheld while in prison. I have seen nothing you or anyone has written here that would convince me that is the case. I see it as just one of the many rights that can be temporarily withheld while someone is “red-carded”. You seem to see voting as something more special.

            Yet you haven’t said anything that supervenes voting over any other right that is withheld. That is, virtually any argument you make for voting could also be made for other rights that are withheld. In other words, on the basis of your arguments, if we are not justified on withholding the voting right, we are not justified in withholding any right.

            • BLiP 15.1.1.3.1.1

              You’re skipping and dancing all over the place. Surely you’re not trying to suggest that, for example, the right to drive or the right to have a beer after work is as equal as the right to participate in democracy?

              Also, have a look at what I said earlier about how cutting links to the community increases crime. Lets set aside the prisoners for a moment and think about you: are you happy to indulge your creepy, latent S&M desire to further punish prisoners when, in doing so, you are increasing the risk of a member of your family becoming a victim of crime? If so, your fetish is more S than M

              • tsmithfield

                Let me help you get some perspective. Imagine yourself standing before a judge.

                The judge gives you two options:

                Option 1.

                Jail for three years, but you can vote.

                Option 2.

                No jail, but you can’t vote for three years.

                In all honesty, which would you choose?

              • BLiP

                False dilemma.

                Try again.

            • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.3.1.2

              You seem to put “voting’ on a plane that is higher than other rights that are withheld while in prison.

              You did that. You imply that voting is what gives you the protections of society, and your obligations to society. That’s a very justifiable argument, anarchists will disagree of course, but it’s still a defensible claim.

              If voting is consent to be governed, then removing the right to vote, is to remove the ability to govern. You can’t have it both ways. Being in prison, just like standing on the sideline, is following the rules.

      • Rex Widerstrom 15.1.2

        how about removing the right for absentee voters to participate

        Errr… we don’t. I’d wager I’d know more about NZ politics than a random survey of voters and I’d further wager that I care more than a fair number of them too. I still have family in NZ who are personally affected by decisions of this government, including children for whom I am still legally responsible.

        Yet I can’t exercise a vote to influence the direction of the country I care about, or the futures of the people I love.

        And it pisses me off no end.

        • BLiP 15.1.2.1

          Really? I must have missed something. I’m sure there’s thousands of absentee votes collected from Australia and the UK every election?? You’re an Aussie citizen, though, aren’t you?

          • tsmithfield 15.1.2.1.1

            Sorry, seem to have run out of replies on the earlier thread.

            I think the weakness in your argument is that you equate the right to vote with democracy. However, the right to vote is only part of democracy. To me, democracy includes the right for me to participate in society on an equal basis to others in all respects. Clearly, when we imprison someone we constrain their democratic rights considerably if democracy is defined in a wider sense. If we are constricting their democratic rights substantially anyway, then why shouldn’t the right to vote also be removed since it is a subset of the wider democratic process.

            [lprent: Physical constraint with screen real estate. I think it is set to a depth of six. Too many more and long words start wrapping at a one word per line. ]

            • BLiP 15.1.2.1.1.1

              No need to apologise; its apparent we are worlds apart and a discussion for this would be better managed over a beer rather than a limited reply blog function – although, you can just go back to the last “reply” button in the thread and carry on from there. However . . .

              When a person is in prison, as you have acknowledged yourself, a person is unable to participate in society *except* through the vote – and now you want to take that away when, in doing so, you are increasing the potential for more crime to be committed. Surely, the reason for prison, inter alia, is to reduce crime, not structure the sentence so as to increase crime?

              I forget to abuse you in my last comment – you shit juggling thundercunt.

              • tsmithfield

                It might surprise you to know I am not actually a redneck when it comes to jail. I actually think that jail should be reserved for those who are a serious threat to society and should probably never be released, and that it does more harm than good to most people. I certainly am all for restorative justice, and a high level of drug and alcohol treatment which is sadly lacking in many cases, and dealing to some of the societal root causes of the problems.

                That being said, I am arguing from a point of principle, rather than whether the outcome is nice or not. You seem to accept in your last comment that there is a wider context to democracy and you see voting as the last vestige available to someone. However, you haven’t provided any evidence to elevate voting to a status where it supervenes over other democratic rights we quite willingly withhold from people when we imprison someone. Also, you make an assertion that removing the right to vote will increase crime. However, I don’t really see any argument or evidence from you to justify this proposition.

                I also disagree with you that withholding democratic rights removes someone from society. There are still ways that they can engage with society, and it should be that the state provides plenty of opportunities for that engagement. However, it just won’t be on a democratic footing while they are in prison.

              • BLiP

                Well said and, yes, I am surprised. Glad to see you’re sort of trying now.

                Fair enough you won’t accept my assertion in relation to voting as being one of the ways prisoners feel they contribute to society and, thus, are less inclined to reoffend. I cannot lay my cursor upon a suitable reference; it may well be buried in some half-remembered and turgid Greg Newbold sociology lecture – not nearly good enough for here. Alas. Kinda makes sense, though, don’t you think?

                I don’t follow your logic in relation to your point of principle. I said voting was the last vestige available to prisoners. Also, do you not agree that there exists a hierarchy of rights and that when it comes to, say, the right to drive a car, a right the prisoner loses, that right is subordinate to the right to vote? Is that really what you’re saying? Surely not. So, is a society made more democratic or less democratic if only some people can vote? In this regard, I believe the more people voting, the more democratic the society is – in fact, I reckon you should have the right to vote when you start secondary school.

                Putting my sophistry aside – momentarily – would you agree that when a government starts picking and choosing who can vote (regardless of who it is) that is a step too far, a slippery slope? My position is that it is the weakest, most vulnerable and least deserving of the right to vote who deserve the maximum protection of that right. For the sake of us all.

              • tsmithfield

                Demcracy exists because society has agreed to a framework that allows it to exist. Where the framework does not exist, or is attacked, then democracy has a hard job surviving; Afganistan, Iraq for example (regardless of what part the Americans have to play in it all).

                Consequently, adherence to the rules that make up the framework is very important for the existence of democracy. When people do not adhere to those rules (i.e. with criminal acts) then the fabric of democracy is undermined (if everyone behaved that way we would have anarchy).

                Therefore, the priveledge of voting should go to those who are prepared to sustain the fabric that enables democracy to exist.

              • BLiP

                You’ve gone back to being a twat. I’m disappointed.

                You haven’t responded to any of my points and are now trying to reframe the debate. Since when was the right to vote a privilege and since when is the situation here even remotely comparable to Iraq? The current framework for democracy works fine, crime as it is in New Zealand today is not a threat to that democracy.

                Your arguments are so weak, ill-considered and floundering around in a bucket of fail my question now becomes: what are you really up to? I can only assume that, in fact, you are attacking democracy, seeking to weaken starting with prisoners. Who’s next?

                Either that or you’re some ACT Party operative trolling around looking for PR talking points to sell the hideous policy.

                Fuck off.

          • Rex Widerstrom 15.1.2.1.2

            From the elections.co.nz website:

            If you are a New Zealand citizen you can be out of the country for three years continuously before you are no longer eligible to vote.

            No, I’m not an Australian citizen. As a result I don’t get to vote here either. Didn’t someone once say something famous about no taxation without representation? I’ve tried telling that to the ATO but they won’t take their hand out my pocket 😀

            Seriously though, I think the rule stinks. Why not have a simple test for overseas NZers to check they’ve kept in touch with local events, then let us vote?

            FFS the Italian parliament grants its expatriots their own MPs!! If we instituted that in NZ then Kiwis in the UK and Australia would surely have the numbers to justify their own seats.

            • BLiP 15.1.2.1.2.1

              Bugger. I stand corrected. Thanks Rex.

              I quite like that Italian approach – amazing considering the shambles of a democracy left behind in the hands of the mafia by the US as its parting gift from WWII. Such a scheme might actually generate even more interest in the goings on in Godzone amongst the ex-pat community, thus tugging the heart strings, luring them back home?

              • Rex Widerstrom

                Good point, and one I tried making to Labour during the half-hearted “please, for the love of God, come home and vote for us”* campaign** Labour ran a year or so ago, to no avail.

                * I may not have the actual name right 😀
                ** By “campaign” I mean “half assed website with no proper real world backing”.

            • RedBack 15.1.2.1.2.2

              Good call Rex. I was locked out of the electoral process for the 2008 election due to being absent from the country for more than 3 years. Yeah the Italian model is a good idea that needs to be looked at for NZ considering how many citzens we now have living overseas (such as ourselves). Labour could do worse than floating this as a positive idea to counter the Nat/ACT negative attack on the democratic rights of inmates. It would get my support for a kick off.

  16. SHG 16

    How nice it is to have an Attorney-General with a legal background.

    • lprent 16.1

      Like Margaret Wilson (who was the last one I remember)?

      I seem to remember that David Parker, the current shadow A-G is also a lawyer.

    • Bright Red 16.2

      scrapping the barrel there, SHG.

      Can you name a legal decision Cullen got wrong as AG?

      You, you do how they ahve a staff to advice them, eh?

      dork.

    • Cullen was the best AG that we have had for a while. And if Finlayson is so good then why does he not appreciate that his job is to protect rights and why is it that he does not seem to understand the very clear advice he has been given?

  17. Peter Johns 17

    Prisoners should not have the right to vote at all. They have given their rights up for the term of their internment. Plain & simple.

    • Pascal's bookie 17.1

      No they haven’t, otherwise you could just go in and torture them, (if you do try this of an afternoon PJ, please put the vid on youtube) or pop around to their house and take their stuff.

      But you can’t, so you’re wrong.

    • Jim Nald 17.2

      Why is the current Government so determined to erode rights and especially in this context … after pushing through silly and punitive measures, is the Government nervous about backlash and pre-emptively working to strip off voting rights that may be exercised against the Government??

      And this coming from a lawyer in the office of the AG who is the defender of the law!

  18. Peter Johns 18

    You can take away voting rights, it is a simple stroke of the pen. As for torture, a totally different issue. I will be a bit more specific then. Once you are incarcerated you lose your right to vote. As a nett positive tax paying citizen I am more than happy for prisoners to lose their right to vote.
    I wonder if the left are thinking this will lose them votes in a general election as I assume most prisoners will vote Labour/Greens?

    • felix 18.1

      What do you think about my idea of giving more votes to those who pay more tax?

    • Jim Nald 18.2

      A fair-minded citizen speaks out to defend the rule of law and argue against disenfranchisement. I would expect a party which adheres to democratic principles to speak out similarly.

    • Pascal's bookie 18.3

      As a nett positive tax paying citizen I am more than happy for prisoners to lose their right to vote.

      hahaha, what a nonce.

      Your tax has precisely zero to do with your rights, the amount of ‘say’ you get, or anything else.

      There are no such things as ‘rights as a taxpayer’. When the crown spends money it isn’t spending ‘taxpayers money’ either. These are handy little pieces of rhetoric and serve as metaphors, but they are plain false.

      The crown spends the crown’s money. It gets that money, in part, by levying taxes. You and I, (and beneficiaries too) get tax bills, which we have an obligation to pay. When we pay it the money ceases to be ours and becomes the crown’s. This is not a difficult concept.

      How much tax the crown levies, who it levies, and how it spends it’s money, are determined by parliament, which is elected by citizens and residents. It is as citizens and residents that we gain our rights, not as taxpayers. That would be stupid, (unless you a fan of pre enlightenment thinking of course, then it might seem like a good idea).

      If you put your hat on straight, you might see why disenfranchising people is a different category of thing than temporarily locking them up. Or you might not. If not, try the US declaration of independence for brain fuel. The answer won’t be spoon fed to there either, but learning is an active process, teach a man to fish, and so on.

    • RedBack 18.4

      Peter Johns: “I wonder if the left are thinking this will lose them votes in a general election as I assume most prisoners will vote Labour/Greens?”

      – Again no proof from the right to back up their generalizations. Plus I somehow doubt that the prison population of NZ is going to sway a general election one way or the other.

      “As a nett positive tax paying citizen I am more than happy for prisoners to lose their right to vote.”

      – Maybe I’m reading between the lines PJ and correct me if I’m wrong but are you seriously suggesting that the more tax you pay the more democracy you are allowed? Shall we just go back to the old days when rich white blokes were the only ones who could vote and pass legislation that favoured themselves off the back of everyone else? ….What a minute have I inadvertantly just come up with the ACT Party’s next election manifesto. Sorry about that.

  19. Ari 19

    Your right to vote is PART of your right to liberty. o_O

  20. Bored 20

    PJ, you obviously believe you are better than your fellow man, and that being nett positive is an indication of that. You really are an island of immodest. And because you have more you think you have the right to demand more.

  21. Peter Johns 21

    Bored – my shit smells just as much as yours does. I tell you what though, I am better than the people in prison. I know I should have the right to vote, not like people in prison. Is that too much for you?
    So what, I am proud to be a nett positive tax payer, you are possible on the public tit like most contributors here using your day to promote loony left dogma. I moan and bitch about tax wastage but I do not ask for anything back.

    • Rex Widerstrom 21.1

      I was in prison for a while PJ. Turns out a complaint was extracted through coercion by corrupt police (as later detailed in a second statement from the complainant).

      So I’m dying to know… were you just better than me for the duration of my incaceration, or has that superiority somehow lingered.

      Just like to know whether I need to doff my cap when you pass by.

      • The Baron 21.1.1

        So you were wrongfully imprisoned, and presumably immediately released.Hardly the best analogy. I sincerely doubt that this exclusion would apply in those circumstances.

        I’m a bit disappointed that its you trying out mock outrage and mis-applied anecdotes, Rex – you’re usually better than that.

        As for the last line, if you wanna play victim, you can doff your hat at whoever you want. The only person treating you like a disadvantaged and aggreived marytr is yourself.

        • felix 21.1.1.1

          Did you read Peter’s comment, Baron?

          He thinks he’s better than everyone in prison.

          Keep up.

        • Rex Widerstrom 21.1.1.2

          Immediately? Try after several months and spells in jail in two contries.

          How is it “misapplied”? I was in prison. PJ says ” I am better than the people in prison”. I’m pointing out that “people in prison” include the wrongfully accused but also those on remand (and innocent till proven guilty) and those who’ve committed non-violent, relatively minor offences (and thus were unaffected by the law in its present form, with the three year cut off, which is perfectly adequate).

          And yeah, I’m kinda aggrieved at the “justice” system. Sorry about that, I’ll suck it up in future, as I’m sure you’d do if your business, credit rating (business loans went belly-up while I was incarcerated), personal life etc gets destroyed and you’re dumped back out with not so much as an apology let alone compensation.

          But you’re right, I am only “playing” here, insofar as the only thing I’d doff to someone who expressed that level of prejudice against everyone ever sent to prison was my pants, Dun Mihaka style.

          • Peter Johns 21.1.1.2.1

            Twice ay, you must be 1 unlucky dude. Don’t you do situational analysis when you are in different places? You shouldn’t be allowed to vote bc you are stupid:)
            Still stand by my statement though.
            I am past giving a damm about what other people think.

            • Rex Widerstrom 21.1.1.2.1.1

              You misunderstand – there was one alledged offence, but prison in two countries as a result of extradition.

              Not my first trial though… I’ve had four of those, from six arrests. And guess what – my criminal record is as clean as yours; not a single conviction.

              Yes, I did some situational analysis, and here’s what I concluded: Either I’m the most devious mastermind the world has ever seen, and can fully expect to feature in the next Bond film (note to producers: I have a parrot, not a cat) or the system is deeply flawed and corrupt as lprent notes below. Perhaps, as he says, you need to inform yourself before passing sweeping generalisations.

              Being “past giving a damn what other people think” puts you in precisely the same frame of mind as the people whom I met in prison who I think did belong there because they too didn’t give a damn for others.

    • BLiP 21.2

      I am proud to be a nett positive tax payer

      Could there ever possibly be a better description of the archetypical 21st Century economic libertarian?

    • Bored 21.3

      Peter Johns, Yes it is too much. And as a fellow net tax payer I often observe that there but for the grace of God (I dont believe in him but) go I or any of us.

      Do you never question that none of us have a choice to the circumstances of our birth, that some of us have been more fortunate or less fortunate? Is that a reason to place oneself above another? Or is it a reason for great circumspection, and where necessary compassion?

      I happen to believe some people are just plain bad, in my book theres a lot of them in respected positions with power over others who should be in jail. And I want them kept away from me and you along with those convicted. But to use your terminolgy “their shit smells like ours too”. Do you want to dehumanise them further?

  22. Peter Johns 22

    I am not saying the system is perfect, but lets get perspective then. If you were hardly done by I am sure you were compensated and I have no time for corrupt police. Also, you could argue there are people out there who should be in prison but are not and do vote.
    Shit does happen in the world, I have an Autistic son.
    So I will modify for you my lefty chum, 99.9% of the population then, you are in the 0.1% if that makes you feel better.

    • lprent 22.1

      If you were hardly done by I am sure you were compensated…

      You are more than a little naive. To get compensation you have to bring a civil case, which usually takes several years and quite a lot of money. Of course if you’ve just been dumped in jail your finances are more than a little dead….. The most a criminal court judge could do when dismissing a case is to award you direct legal costs.

      The police effectively have the power to arrest anyone, and if they get a judge to agree – without bail. They remand you to prison while they figure out if they have a case. You can only get compensation if they give it out of the goodness of their hearts (which I’ve never heard of), or by outlaying a considerable sum and wading through the courts for many years.

      The police are a body with archaic management practices, with essentially no oversight (the IPCA is a joke and the Minister of Police has a right to be informed), and they screw up frequently. However they are protected by forcing people affected by their incompetence to have to try and get compensation through a sluggish court system. There is no effective feedback mechanism.

      I think that you need to go and get some basic training in the realities of how the police operate…

    • Rex Widerstrom 22.2

      I doubt most of the lefties on here would claim me as one of their own, Mr Johns.

      However, descriptors aside, no I was not compensated. Compensation for wrongful imprisonment in WA is purely “ex gratia” (at the discretion of the Attorney General of the day) and the present incumbent makes David Garrett look like a sodden hanky, bleeding heart liberal (ironically, he’s a Liberal).

      The present law excludes those who have committed crimes serious enough to warrant their exclusion from society for a significant period (thus, most likely violent offenders, persistent recidivists and the worst of the non-violent offenders). I’d concede there’s some argument to suggest they’ve wilfully forfeited their right – at least temporraily, for the duration of their sentence – to participate in society.

      On the other hand, prisoners who are close to eligibility for parole before an election (those serving less than 3 years, those due for release within, say, a year of an election) ought to retain the right to vote because, as mentioned above, it will help inculcate a sense of belonging to society. This in turn is an important rehabilitative step.

      And the reason rehabilitation needs to be successful has little to do with a “lefty” concern for prisoners and much more to do with the fact that, by definition, a criminal who is not rehabilitated upon release poses a threat to society.

  23. gingercrush 23

    I really think a distinction needs to be made here. As Attorney General, Finlayson’s job is to report on laws being made that inconsistent or contrary to current laws of this country. That is one of his roles as Attorney General.

    Him voting for legislation that is inconsistent or contrary to current laws of this country is because we’re under a Westminister parliament. Meaning in most cases MPs vote entirely along party lines except for when a conscience vote is allowed. MPs just can’t vote against something because they disagree with the legislation etc. If the party has decided to vote one way or another on legislation. The whole party will follow that. The best example would be laws that saw the ending of logging on the West Coast. The Labour MP clearly disagreed with the decision his party made but in the end still voted for it.

    Personally, I feel this bill should be a conscience vote. I imagine some Labour MPs would actually be in favour of this bill while, some National MPs will oppose it. But that won’t happen.

    Edit:

    Oh and Mickey we’re all well aware of your absolute love for the last government. But could you actually tell us one thing Michael Cullen did as Attorney General? Or are you simply too busy fapping off about how wonderful Michael Cullen and Helen Clark are?

    • GC

      Finlayson’s job is to report on laws that breach our bill of rights. This was the weak compromise reached when the BOR was enacted. Many of us wanted the Judiciary to have the power to rule that a law was unconstitutional. This report mechanism was a weak alternative to give the impression that rights were important.

      The theory was that a report by the Attorney General suggesting that a law was in breach would be a really important thing and would attract a huge amount of attention. The mere existence of such a report ought to have a really chilling effect on a Government’s intentions. It is a declaration that they are acting in breach of our rights.

      I am amazed that the current report is being treated with such a cavalier attitude.

      As for my admiration of Cullen. How many examples of breaches of the NZBOR under his rule can you point to?

  24. shakes head 24

    Break the law to an extent you are excluded from normal society and lose your right to participate in democracy, sounds fair to me.

  25. shakes head 25

    I did and if you break the law then pay the price. period

    Simply enough for you to understand Blippy?

  26. shakes head 26

    I’ll keep it nice and simple for ya then. break the law, go to jail, don’t get to vote

  27. felix 27

    IF WE CAN JUST PUNISH A FEW MORE PEOPLE EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT OK.

    • Rex Widerstrom 27.1

      That should be inscribed above the entrance to every prison.

      [I was going to say “…like ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’…” but I didn’t want to Godwin the thread :-D]

      • felix 27.1.1

        Sadly I don’t think Peter Johns, Big Bruv, and a few of the others would have any problem with either of those slogans Rex.

    • Just ask Texans if they have a crime problem. They execute more criminals than any other region in the Western world and they should have, like, no crime whatsoever.

  28. felix 28

    Interestingly no-one seems interested in addressing the irrationality described by the A.G.

    Come on righties! You did read the post and understand the issue raised, didn’t you?

  29. Nick C 29

    Compulsery Student Membership is unqualifiably inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, you dont seem to care about that.

  30. hurhur 30

    What the fuck are you wittering about lynn you old man,bene’s are redistribution of taxes, any “tax” paid is notional you fuck stick.

    [lprent: expat – I see that you’re as unwitty as ever. Just been looking at your list of various ‘names’, warnings, and bans recently. I think it is time to get rid of your presence. Feeding you to the anti-spam engine. ]

  31. Descendant Of Smith 31

    I can’t see that removing the rights of anyone to vote helps democracy in any way shape or form and this proposed change seems pointless except for a desire to punish.

    Arguments about tax, withdrawal of freedom are just red herrings.

    This bill makes our country less democratic by reducing suffrage for our own citizens. It should be opposed vigorously.

    I much rather see a bill extending voting rights to other prisoners currently excluded.

    We seem to have forgotten how hard fought the right to vote was in the first place – probably because we didn’t fight it.. We should not give it up for anyone so easily.

    We should remember too that democracy is about protecting the rights of minority groups. It’s not about simply what the majority wants.

  32. sean14 32

    It’s nice to have an Attorney-General with the intellectual honesty to point out flaws in bills proposed by his own side. Just like Dr Cullen when the Electoral Finance Act was introduced.

  33. Pascal's bookie 33

    I see we are sucking at cricket again.

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