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Upgrading Our Electoral System - Kevin Campbell

Speech notes from the Alliance Party

Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2), third reading speech notes
Kevin Campbell, Alliance MP, 26 February 2002

Introduction.

It was made clear at the last election that our electoral machinery is in need of a complete overhaul. This Bill is the first step of the road to updating and upgrading legislation on our electoral system. It will address the issues outlined in the Hunn-Smith report that identified the areas in need of attention.

Mr Speaker, there are several key issues which I want to address.

Maori voting

Firstly, one of the most serious problems with the last election debacle was that many Maori who were voting in their own electorate did not automatically have the right to cast a normal vote at their nearest polling booth.

In my mind it was absolutely essential that this be addressed. Everyone must have the right to cast a normal vote while voting at any polling booth inside the geographical boundaries of their own electorate.

Casting a special vote takes extra time and can be embarrassing for people. It suggests you have done something wrong or out of the ordinary. If you have children waiting for you it can be stressful.

It is essential that no one group is in a position where they have less access to voting than any other, or are less encouraged to vote. The Alliance believes that any barriers to the likelihood of particular groups voting must be removed as they could be considered discriminatory and a problem for maintaining democracy.

The Alliance's partner party Mana Motuhake made a submission on this issue to the to the inquiry into the 1999 election making those points.

Counting party votes of people who vote in the wrong electorate

In the interests of protecting and encouraging democracy, every attempt must be made to ensure each legitimate vote counts. This bill enhances our electoral system by ensuring that Party votes made by people, who have cast their vote in the wrong electorate, will be counted.

Because this was not possible in the last election 20,000 people lost part of their right to participate in their democracy. A party vote is an essential part of the proportional representation system, which the Alliance has promoted since its inception, and we wholeheartedly support this particular change in our electoral legislation.

One organisation

There are several changes to the structures of our electoral system in this bill, which will make it run more smoothly.

In particular, the modernisation of the structure of the Chief Electoral Office will allow clear and professional management of the regions by placing them under the direction of the Chief Electoral Officer.

Continuous enrolment

The simplification of enrolment procedures is supported by the Alliance. Complete re-enrolment every election should not be necessary and may be wasteful of resources. This Bill allows for the continuous enrolment of voters as they change address. This will save time and money for everyone concerned while we will also ensure that the integrity of our electoral rolls is maintained.

Conclusion

In conclusion - this Bill helps move us towards the most democratic electoral system we can have at this time. It will help solve the problems experienced in the last election and address the issues raised by the Hunn-Smith report.

The Alliance supports this bill and all moves to increase access to, and remove barriers to achieving the high voter turn out that New Zealanders desire in a healthy participatory democracy.


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