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Prisoners serving three years or less should be able to vote, Jacinda Ardern says


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is against a blanket law giving prisoners the right to vote, saying she believes inmates serving three years or less should be allowed to vote in elections.

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The Prime Minister talked to TVNZ1’s Breakfast after the Waitangi Tribunal yesterday recommended voting rights of all prisoners be reinstated. Source: Breakfast

It comes after the Waitangi Tribunal yesterday recommended that the voting rights of everyone serving time in prison should be reinstated.

Ms Ardern told TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning the Government has been focused on building a more effective justice system, especially on creating fewer victims and on how to reduce the number of re-offenders.

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The move follows a scathing report by the Waitangi Tribunal, which calls the ban discriminatory to Māori. Source: 1 NEWS

But she admitted prisoners voting rights had not been a central part of that work.

"We haven't prioritised it but now we've got the Waitangi Tribunal and we've got the Supreme Court saying that law should never have happened so we accept we need to do something about it."

Prior to the law which the National-led government brought in in 2010, which stripped all inmates of the right to vote, prisoners were allowed to vote if they were given a prison sentence of three years or less since they are likely to go back into the community over the course of an election cycle.

But while the tribunal believed the three years or less rule was still not adequate, Ms Ardern said there had been other work which supports it and she too agrees with it.

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Richard Francois and Arthur Taylor are calling on the Government to reverse the ban. Source: Breakfast

"That's my personal position. As a party we had a position on the three years or less," she said, but added since it hadn't been brought it to Cabinet she didn't know the position of other partys in Government. 

"There hasn't been carte blanche voting rights for decades for all prisoners as the Waitangi Tribunal recommend," Ms Ardern said. "So where we've had a position as a party is that law change in 2010 came via a National Party members bill - we never thought it should have happened, we always had a policy it should've been reversed."