You think Democracy is broken?


One of our readers lives in a rental, and apart from getting all the previous tenants junk mail, he’s now also able to vote four times in the Referendum.

I know him well enough, and he won’t.  But it shows that a fair amount of voting forms never get to the intended recipient, and that it is unlikely that the Electoral Commission can determine if there is something sinister going on.

He writes

I happen to live in a part of Auckland where the average resident wouldn’t be aware or at least care enough about following up on their “missing” referendum packs.  Someone bold enough could go empty out most of the letterboxes before people came home from work.

Right now I have four votes.  I could easily go back outside and get myself dozens.

I dropped the Electoral Commission a note asking what happens when duplicate votes are submitted in the event someone follows up on a missing voting pack.

Postal voting is used for local body elections, and has been used for previous referendums, with little evidence of vote tampering or voter fraud.

Under the referendum legislation, voters who have moved can request replacement papers be sent to their new addresses.  Their original papers will be cancelled when that request is made.

Each voting paper carries a QR code unique to the voter, which is used to mark them off the roll when their paper is returned, whilst maintaining the secrecy of the ballot. If two papers with identical QR codes were to be returned, they would be identified within the system and investigated.

Those who receive voting papers for people no longer at their address should return them so that the electoral roll can be updated.

It does show that anyone organised enough such as a church, a trade union or even the local RSA could host an “event” where people can come in and you all vote together.  And vote the company line, of course.

And if you don’t think that rigging votes happens in New Zealand, mostly because it isn’t worth it, then you haven’t taken note of electoral strategy genius Martyn Bradbury, who enrolled twice under slightly different names, and of course the Labour candidate in Auckland who was convicted for electoral fraud.


Labour candidate Daljeet Singh, convicted postal vote cheat

No voting system is 100% fraud proof.  But it can be better than blindly sending forms to people who don’t even live at that address, and having them all sitting at the road for hours before the people come home from work.  As you will have noted, the Electoral Commission response does not cover how they would detect the use of other people’s forms where no replacement is requested.  They just say “there is little evidence”, and they do not go into detail.

Should we go to on-line voting then?   No.  Voting needs to be something you do by visiting your local school hall or library.  Where you hand over your voter ID with your actual ID to get a numbered form.  Where you vote and place the form into the ballot box under the scrutiny of people who have an interest in the process being fair and proper.

The Conservative Party (such as it is) is using binding referenda as one of their two major policy planks to make a return for 2017.  You can just see why that is attractive to them – the process is very much an X-Factor NZ Vote situation where rigging is not just unavoidable, it will be a natural outcome of the process.  Unless postal voting is abolished and a proper voting system takes its place, New Zealand will turn into a electoral basket case.

So, the reader assures me only one form will be filled in.  The remainder will go back to the Returning Officer unopened.  But a voting system should not rely on the honesty of voters, as this will be taken advantage of by people who have no integrity.


Martyn Bradbury was busted due to the inherent checks and balances in our general election voting system, but these controls are absent for postal votes for referendums and local body elections.


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