A strong Green Party voice in Parliament is helping deliver more choice and flexibility for Māori voters.
The Māori Electoral Option Bill, which passed its first reading in Parliament today is the third example this week of the Government adopting the Green Party’s proposals from Golriz Ghahraman’s Strengthening Democracy Bill.
“Māori voters should be able to switch rolls at any time, whether it's a general election, by-election, or local government election. Thanks to the work of the Green Party we have taken an important step today towards making that a reality,” says Golriz Ghahraman, Green spokesperson for electoral reform.
Evidence from the Electoral Commission shows that in 2020 24,000 Māori wanted to change their electoral roll but were prevented from doing so by the current rules.
“While the Government’s Bill is a substantive step forward, it prevents voters making the choice in respect of Parliamentary by-elections. The Green Party will be working hard in the select committee process to remove this barrier.
“The Government can also achieve the same thing by backing my Strengthening Democracy Bill.
“Not only would that give Māori voters the collective voice they deserve at any stage of any election, it would also get big money out of politics, lower the voting age to 16 years, and introduce a cap on the amount any one person or organisation can donate to a political party each year,” says Golriz Ghahraman.
“There is still a long way to go to ensure our democracy upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi, but today is a positive step forwards,” added Teanau Tuinono, on behalf of Te Mātāwaka, the Green Party’s Māori and Pasifika caucus.
“The Green Party, Te Pāti Māori, and Labour have all introduced bills that would allow Māori to change rolls more easily. There is clearly majority support for this change, so let’s just make it happen and give Māori voters the choice they have always deserved,” says Tuiono.
“The Green Party has been the only voice consistently calling for reform, in line with recommendations of independent bodies such at the Electoral Commission and our higher courts, to build a truly inclusive, equal and fair democracy. This week the Government has begun making some important changes that we have pushed for, for a long time,” says Golriz Ghahraman.