Green Party introduces bill to give prisoners back vote and 'strengthen democracy'

The Green Party is proposing a suite of measures they say will strengthen democracy, including giving prisoners back the right to vote.

Golriz Ghahraman Source: 1 NEWS

The Electoral Strengthening Democracy Bill seeks reform in for four areas:

• Strengthening transparency and safeguards on donations to parties and candidates

• Enabling voters of Māori descent to change roll type at any time

• Overturning the prisoner voting ban and giving all people in prison the right to vote

• Implementing the 2012 MMP Review recommendations

"New Zealand proudly has a strong democratic system, our MMP system is rightly representative," Green Party electoral reform spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said in a statement.

"In saying this, there is definitely room for improvement to ensure we have the best democratic system possible and that access is fair."

Ghahraman said the changes she seeks will ensure all New Zealanders the best possible access to their democratic system, with additional hopes to stop unfair influence and potential corruption in politics.

"We should absolutely not be seeing political donations come from overseas and we need to reduce the anonymity threshold so that we can see who is donating to political parties."

"Māori should be able to choose which roll they are on at any time. Currently Māori can only change roll during the Māori Electoral Option, which is a short window of time once every 5 years.

"This restriction is unnecessary and removing it will help Māori participation in our democracy."

New Zealand law currently excludes people in prison from voting and Ms Ghahraman says this is "alienating" and "only makes rehabilitation harder."

Voting during elections should engage prisoners in society, she said, and allow them to exercise a fundamental human right.

"These are all changes that will only seek to enhance and improve our democratic system.

"New Zealanders understand that everyone should be able to exercise their right to vote and that corruption should be prevented whenever possible."

"This Bill if passed would ensure that New Zealand is leading the way on the world stage when it comes to our democracy.

"Something all New Zealanders would be proud of. I urge the Minister to pick up this Bill as a Government bill and will be asking for his support."