14 Dec 2018

Supreme Court finds prisoner voting ban lawfully passed

4:45 pm on 14 December 2018

The country's highest court has ruled that a law change in 2010 prohibiting all serving prisoners from voting was lawfully passed.

Supreme Court in Wellington, Coat of Arms

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Some prisoners, including Arthur Taylor, took the government to court, saying the Electoral Act required 75 percent of MPs to vote for the measure and that did not happen.

Before the law was amended only those sentenced to life imprisonment, preventive detention or a term of three years or longer were prohibited from voting.

The appellants sought a High Court declaration that the 2010 voting law amendment was invalid, but that court and the Court of Appeal ruled against them.

Today a majority of the Supreme Court agreed.

In a dissenting judgement, the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias would have allowed the appeal because it concerned a fundamental part of voting law, and protected the right to vote.

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