Prisoner Voting and Rights Deliberation: How New Zealand's Parliament Failed
The question whether individuals sentenced to terms of imprisonment should be able to vote has arisen periodically in New Zealand, as well as other liberal democracies. In 2010, Parliament voted to take the right to vote from all sentenced prisoners. This decision was taken despite the Attorney-General indicating that the legislation imposes an unjustified limit on the right to vote contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and against the international trend to enfranchise prisoners. As such, we should expect to see parliamentarians give careful attention to the rights consequences of their action. However, only the most cursory discussion of the right to vote took place during the process of enacting this legislation. This failure to engage properly with questions of individual rights means that Parliament is falling short of its duty as sovereign lawmaker for New Zealand.
Publisher: Legal Research Foundation
Keywords: Electoral law; New Zealand; Human rights
Research Type: Journal Article