17 Apr 2015

Challenge to election result thrown out

4:22 pm on 17 April 2015

A court has thrown out an attempt by the career criminal Arthur Taylor to overturn the election result in Prime Minister John Key's electorate Helensville.

Arthur Taylor

Arthur Taylor Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker-Wilson

Taylor brought his case to the High Court in Auckland in January, saying the prisoners at Auckland Prison, which is in the electorate, were denied their voting rights.

He said a 2010 law change that banned all prisoners from voting was illegal and should never have been passed.

However, a panel of three judges has found Taylor had no standing to bring the case, as electoral petitions could only be brought by qualified voters.

In a judgement released today, they said even if Taylor was qualified to vote, he was not enrolled in the Helensville electorate at the time of last year's election.

The judges found they therefore could not consider his substantive arguments.

Andrew Geddis, a professor in electoral law at Otago University, said he was not surprised the High Court had thrown out the attempt.

He said whatever the merit of Taylor's argument, the court couldn't hear it.

"What the court's found is that Mr Taylor didn't have the necessary standing to be allowed to bring a petition, and what that means is that under the Electoral Act only certain people are allowed to challenge the result in an electoral district: basically people who were either in the contest or allowed to vote in that district.

"Arthur Taylor was neither, so the court essentially said, 'we can't hear you, you're not allowed to bring this case at all.'"

Professor Geddis said Taylor may have more success with his judicial review, seeking a declaration that the voting ban is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.