GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – URGENT: Maori and youth voters being abused by Electoral Commission staff – KNOW YOUR VOTING RIGHTS!

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Whanau, I am hearing anecdotal evidence through social media and on the street that Maori and young voters are being told they are not on the roll when they’ve been enrolled on the Maori Roll.
These are disgraceful allegations, and I note the amazing work by Veronica Tawhai, the Maori politics lecturer and citizenship educator at Massey University who has announced the following complaints…
• Staff being unaware of the Maori roll and insisting electors are unregistered when their names don’t appear on the General roll;
• Staff having difficulty locating Maori names on the Maori roll, even when given identification by Maori electors; 
• Staff giving incorrect information about the Maori electorates, electorate areas and where electors can be enrolled;
• Maori enrolled in Maori electorates being given the wrong voting form and having to argue with staff to find and be provided with the correct form;
• Electors on the General roll being told they are unable to vote for a ‘Maori party’ if they are not on the Maori roll; 
• Complaints from Maori electors being ignored by those responsible for hearing complaints, such as managers of polling booths.
…I am so concerned by these widespread allegations being voiced by  Maori and young people complaining that Electoral Commission staff are misleading voters and telling them they aren’t allowed to vote!
 
I demand that the Electoral Commission of NZ put out an immediate memo to their staff reminding them of their obligations.
 
To every Maori and young voter out there, I re-state your voting rights – you can enrol and vote from now until Friday 22nd. If any young person or Maori voter turns up at an advance polling station between now and Friday and they run into difficulty with electoral staff I urge you to call me directly on 021 144 8726
You can find your closest advanced polling station here – www.elections.org.nz
 
In 2017, I will not tolerate any attempt to rob Maori or young people of their right to vote because of a incompetence and ignorance at our electoral booths.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Well said. And good on you for giving your phone number so at least they have an MP to call.

    I have zero faith in the Electoral Commission of NZ after banning the satire song/video Planet Key last time, while taking zero action on prominent sports people tweeting to vote National on Election Day.

    It’s not a fair system anymore in NZ.

    Vote National OUT!

    (and don’t give their enabler’s the Maori party a vote either, it’s like a double vote for National for the last 9 years!).

  2. Also sounds like what they do in America to stop the black and latino vote.

    Sad we are going down that corrupt route with a Trump like crazy outcome in the end.

    Obama got in because the democrats under his leadership rallyed the poorer black and Latino voters by helping them get to polling stations. In addition they also supported voters against the illegal ways that the US have adapted to deny people the right to vote.

    If you want a change of government community groups need to get active to support vulnerable voters to vote. (A starting point is a lift to the polling station).

  3. “I demand that the Electoral Commission of NZ put out an immediate memo to their staff reminding them of their obligations.

    Yes Willie as a 73 yr old pakeha, I completely agree with you that ‘The Electoral Commission’ is vote rigging (my words) and i am shamed that the EC has done this to my Maori cousins.

    Shame on National.

    National = vote rigging.

  4. As a person who has worked on election day in polling booths over the past five elections I have the following observations:
    If these allegations are correct it appears lack of training could be a problem.
    On the first: EC staff simply could not be unaware of the Maori roll. There is a Maori electorate covering every square metre of the country and Maori roll voting is available in every advance polling booth. There may be some confusion as to which Maori electorate a voter may be enrolled in, particularly near the boundaries and for those who have recently moved, but these should not pose any more difficulties than for similar situations in general electorates.
    On the second: Although people with more knowledge of Maori pronunciation and spelling are (if available) given the jobs of vote issuing officer for Maori electorates on election day, it is possible that during advance voting the staff may not be so conversant with Maori so there could be some confusion. However most advance voting staff are pretty experienced so I would expect them to have at least SOME knowledge. In any case some polite questions and common sense usually resolves any such problems.
    On the third: EC officers have street address finders for all of the country so they can determine the correct electorate for any voter. In my experience, sometimes voters think they are on the Maori roll but are actually on the general roll, or vice versa, and they might be a bit annoyed at this but unfortunately the opportunity to change is not available except every five years during the census.
    On the fourth: There can be no good reason for giving voters the wrong form. The Maori voting forms and general voting forms are coloured differently especially to prevent this.
    On the fifth point: If people have been told this then someone needs to be sacked. This is what Mike Hosking got his fingers smacked for. The same parties are listed on both Maori and general voting forms – only the order of the parties differs from electorate to electorate because the candidate vote is listed alphabetically and if the candidate represents a party that is also on the party list then that party is for convenience listed on the same line on the party vote side.
    If this is happening it is a very serious violation of voting rules and needs urgent investigation.
    On the sixth point: Any complaints from ANY electors should be taken seriously by voting place managers. In my experience it is mostly questions about special voting, when someone has moved or whether they are on the roll or not that are put to managers. Managers have a lot of resources on hand to check details and in any case when people advance vote, any declaration form or enrolment update form filled in at the time automatically is used to update any voter details. Some voters can get a bit upset when they find they are not on a printed roll and have to fill out a special vote declaration form but it is not a big deal really and it doesn’t or shouldn’t be seen as the voter’s “fault”.
    As in many things: good communication is usually the best thing to solve any uncertainty or problems.
    To seek any remedy or lay a complaint the first point of communication should be the Returning officer for the electorate concerned. They are busy people right now, certainly, but they have people trained for such things available.

    • “In my experience, sometimes voters think they are on the Maori roll but are actually on the general roll, or vice versa, and they might be a bit annoyed at this but unfortunately the opportunity to change is not available except every five years during the census.”

      I could be wrong, but I believe this is incorrect. AFAIK a voter can send in a new voting registration form at any time, indicating they wish to change from the General to the Māori roll, or vice-versa. Just as they can send in a voting registration form at any time indicating a change of address, or any other detail. The census is only relevant to the Māori seats in the role it plays in determining how many of them there should be:
      http://www.elections.org.nz/voting-system/maori-representation

      Now given that one of us is wrong about some or all of this, and both of us are reasonably familiar with the electoral system, it just goes to show how easily mistakes could be made by stressed election workers who are not as intimately familiar with the system.

      • Nope you can only change from the Māori to general roll and vice versa every 5 years, at the things if the census. Not sure why this is the case, but this is what is done.

    • I can concur with your points. I worked on the election last time in an area with a high Maori population. I was the only person of 6 who had a Maori roll so all potential Maori roll voters had to come to me, which I think was problem 1. Problem 2 is that I was given no training or guidance on the rules/practices around use of the Maori roll. Because I grew up here, I had a fair idea, but note that several of the other workers were not originally from NZ – this is the big issue. There should be specific training on how to handle the Maori roll and any issues arising. It should have been easy to tell a Maori voting paper from a General one – they are colour coded, but perhaps in areas of low Maori population mistakes may be made – not making excuses here. It shouldn’t happen.

      Up to a third of Maori who approached me were not sure which roll they were on, but I was able to look up both to check, which I did in all cases. This meant I did 2x the work as the other people working there.

      Finally, it’s easy to think that poor service is being delivered just to Maori. There will be many Pakeha voters who also have complaints. I found it a bit intimidating being new and I was nervous. Training had focused on which papers to mark, not the broader people-based issues that arose during the day. It’s a very long day with few breaks so staff at busy centres are on their knees with exhaustion by closing. Then you have to stay behind a do a count. I started at 6am and finished at 11pm. I think EC have to look at this too. I couldn’t face doing that again – I was unwell for two days afterwards – so I didn’t apply this year.

      In summary, while there is no excuse for delivering a poor voting experience to Maori, I think this is down to poor training and management on the day, rather than a deliberate desire to insult people.

  5. “Electors on the General roll being told they are unable to vote for a ‘Maori party’ if they are not on the Maori roll”

    Oh, FFS, don’t tell me some moron listened to that other moron, Mike Hosking, on Seven Sharpless ?!?! *facepalm*

  6. As someone who works in voting booths on election day I fail to see how anyone properly trained would do this. It is stressed on all the training videos and the practical training that there are TWO rolls. That said however my son was offered back his unstamped easy vote card during the Northland by election. This is illegal.

  7. I wonder if this is partly an unintended consequence of multi day voting resulting in a lack of scrutineers to call out electoral officers who are not doing their job.

      • No they can’t. They are only supposed to communicate with the Polling Place Manager, no-one else except in one circumstance: They they have the right to demand that a vote issuing officer officially question any voter whom they suspect might have voted before. A form is filled out and the voter has to make a declaration that they haven’t previously voted in that election. In five elections I have never seen that done and it wouldn’t be done lightly because it would obviously get people’s backs up.
        If a party scrutineer had doubts about any EC officer he/she would talk to their Party organisation, talk to the Polling Place Manager and take it from there.

  8. On Saturday morning I spoke you a Labour MP at the Lyttelton Market-she has just spoken to a person who had tried to enrol and vote at the Lyttelton polling booth and was told he could not enrol and vote on the same day! What is going on here? She too was going to speak to the electoral commission about it.

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