New Zealand Labour Party

Thousands of invalid votes likely after National refuses to change rules

National’s refusal to make it easier to enrol and vote could result in tens of thousands of votes continuing to be ruled invalid at general elections, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

The Justice and Electoral select committee today released its report into the 2014 general election.

“While Labour is pleased with many of the report’s recommendations, we remain concerned more hasn't be done to make voting as accessible as possible – and that Government MPs actively voted down attempts to do just that.

“About 27,000 voters made the effort to vote last election but their ballot papers were disallowed because, for instance, they were not on the electoral roll.

“One of the reasons for this is that some people simply assume they're enrolled when they're not. The Electoral Commission proposed a solution to deal with this issue, by allowing a special vote declaration – the form those who aren't on the printed roll have to fill in before they can vote in advance – to count as an enrolment form.

“This change could dramatically reduce the number of invalid votes. Labour is extremely disappointed that National MPs on the committee rejected this recommendation.

“A further change aimed at reducing invalid votes would be to allow people to both enrol and vote on election day. With an advance voting period of 17 days where it is possible to enrol and vote at the same time, it doesn’t make sense to exclude election day itself.  

“Every party has a duty to do all they can to remove barriers to voting. We simply do not buy the argument that these changes could undermine the integrity of our voting system – in fact we would argue that refusing to make these changes disenfranchises people. That's hardly a reputation the Government will want,” Jacinda Ardern says.