Lobby for longer elec­tion hours

Havelock North Village Press - - News -

A for­mer Hawke’s Bay Labour can­di­date who wants the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to stan­dard­ise early polling booth vot­ing hours has been called out by Na­tional MP Nick Smith.

At the Par­lia­men­tary Jus­tice Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day, for­mer Tuk­i­tuki can­di­date Anna Lorck and Hast­ings Dis­trict coun­cil­lor Geral­dine Travers sub­mit­ted that res­i­dents in Flaxmere were de­nied nine hours of ac­cess to early polling booths com­pared to Have­lock North.

But Smith said it would be im­prac­ti­cal to stan­dard­ise vot­ing hours at early booths.

“To say that ev­ery ad­vanced vot­ing place must have the same hours would un­rea­son­ably re­strict the ca­pac­ity of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.”

He said it could lead to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion not putting ad­vanced polling booths in smaller ar­eas, dis­ad­van­tag­ing those com­mu­ni­ties.

“That’s a re­sourc­ing is­sue,” Lorck coun­tered. “You can­not say on time alone, you can­not say you nor I should have more time to vote than an­other.

“This about be­ing fair and equal to all New Zealan­ders.”

Lorck ad­mit­ted there were prac­ti­cal and lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues which needed to be ad­dressed, but be­lieved eq­uity over­rode those is­sues.

“You can’t close down a com­mu­nity from its abil­ity to ex­er­cise its demo­cratic right. It’s wrong.”

Smith wanted to know whether the pair were ac­cus­ing the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of show­ing eco­nomic bias in the open­ing hours.

“We’re not mak­ing any such al­le­ga­tion. What we are do­ing is merely re­port­ing on the facts of the mat­ter,” Travers said. They dis­cussed other is­sues around vot­ing ac­cess in Flaxmere.

The pair said its booth had a smaller room, mean­ing vot­ers had to queue out­side, and claimed it ran out of en­rol­ment forms and peo­ple were be­ing turned away.

For­mer Labour can­di­date Anna Lorck.

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