Lobby for longer election hours
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.