November 25, 2019
Prison voting ban to be lifted
People sentenced to less than three years in prison will have their voting rights restored before the next election.
Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Government intends to return the law to how it was pre-2010 when a National Party Bill removed voting rights from all sentenced prisoners.
The decision follows a Waitangi Tribunal finding that the 2010 law disproportionately impacts Māori prisoners and is inconsistent with the Treaty of Waitangi and a High Court's declaration that the current law is inconsistent with the right to vote in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
The 3700 prisoners in remand already have the right to vote, so the law change will affect around 1900 people in prison.
Mr Little says someone who is going to be released back into the community during a Parliamentary term should have the right to have a say on who leads them during their time of freedom.
The law change will also address the concern that prisoners are not re-enrolling once they leave prison, which Waitangi Tribunal said means the law is effectively acting as a permanent ban on voting for prisoners.
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