Government’s half measure fails to fix prisoner voting

The NZCCL is disappointed that the Government continues to support the idea that prisoners in New Zealand don't have the right to vote.

While undoing the law change made in 2010 has some value, in that roughly 1900 more New Zealanders will be able to vote at the next election, we fail to understand the principle behind the position that some prisoners should be able to vote while others can't.

We support the idea that all New Zealanders should be able to vote in elections (see our recent submission). Or, as Justice Minister Andrew Little puts it: "As a basic principle they should have a right to say who is governing the community that they will be released free into once they’ve completed their sentence.”

People who have been imprisoned for more than 3 years can still be affected by decisions made by governments – for example double-bunking, work policies, and other issues affecting their wellbeing – so they should be able to have their say on who is elected to form a government.

The NZ Bill of Rights says that people have a right to vote. The NZ Supreme Court supports prisoners being able to vote. The Waitangi Tribunal supports prisoners being able to vote.

We ask Andrew Little and the Government to act in a bold and principled manner and restore the right to vote to all prisoners.