2 Feb 2015

Prison voting ban linked to Maori turnout

6:08 am on 2 February 2015

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 of a High Court hearing in 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.