November 25, 2019
Prison vote restoration right thing to do
A justice reform advocate says restoring voting rights for prisoners sends a message they can again become valued members of their communities and families.
The Government intends to allow prisoners sentenced to less than three years to vote at the next election, reversing a 2010 law change that has been found to be a breach of both the Treaty of Waitangi because of its disproportionate effect on Māori voters and a Breach of the 1990 Human Rights Act.
National Party leader Simon Bridges says he’ll bring back the ban if wins the election.
Former Justspeak chair Julia Whaipooti says while it will affect fewer than 2000 prisoners, it’s the right thing to do.
"One of the strongest things to enable successful rehabilitation or reintegration back into communities and their homes is to feel connected to communities and homes. Taking away their right to vote is a very strong signal they are not people from our communities so it is symbolic for change and it actually has an impact," she says.
Ms Whaipooti would like to see all prisoners allowed to vote, because it’s a basic right.
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