Prison voting ban linked to Maori turnout

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(Radio New Zealand) A youth law advocate suspects banning prisoners from voting in general elections could be affecting who wins the Maori electoral seats.

The 2010 Electoral Amendment Act, which disqualifies all inmates from having a say in elections, was the subject ofa High Court hearingin Auckland last week.

Career criminal Arthur Taylor has asked the court to have the election result in John Key’s electorate Helensville overturned, saying the prisoners at Auckland Prison, which is in the electorate, were denied their voting rights.

Julia Whaipooti, the co-chair of youth advocacy group Just Speak, believes the ban is disenfranchising the 4500 tangata whenua who are locked up, and is contributing to the poor turnout of Maori voters.

Ms Whaipooti said she thought it would have an impact on Maori seats during elections.

However, she said the ban was not the only reason for the poor turnout, and the hardest thing was to get young Maori to vote.

Ms Whaipooti suspects rangatahi choose not to vote because they do not see how the Government represents their needs.


Julia Amua Whaipooti, Ngati Porou

Julia completed her legal studies in 2013 and now works for the Community Law Centre providing legal education and information to local communities. She is passionate about social justice and sees many of the issues within our criminal justice system as reflecting the social justice failures in broader society.

Julia is involved with JustSpeak because she believes in its kaupapa and its aims to empower young people to have a voice in the criminal justice conversation. Ko nga Rangatahi nga Rangatira moapopo. Young people are our leaders of tomorrow and JustSpeak is a waka that helps us shape our tomorrow by asking for change.”

 

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