Upgrading democracy in Aotearoa

E tū Co-President, Muriel Tunoho

The Government has launched the Independent Electoral Review, to investigate ways of improving democracy in Aotearoa. There are many interesting decisions to make in this space, such as what the voting age should be, how often we should have general elections, and the various ways in which election results shape our Parliament.

As a democratic and politically involved union, E tū has important knowledge and perspectives to add to the review. We are currently working on a submission, and E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho says the most important point is to remedy improved access to, engagement and consistency in our democratic system.

“It is ridiculous having a different voting process to elect MPs into Parliament and local body representatives onto Councils.  This can be extremely confusing and it compounds the real barrier for those where English is not their first language.”

“Many of our E tū members do not have regular work hours, some have difficulty with access to transport, and they may have limited understanding of how democracy works.”

“When calling around members for various election campaigns, we often find that people simply do not have the time and ability to make their voices heard on the ballot paper.”

“Although voters have the ability to cast special votes in some circumstances, the process for that can be quite complicated and intimidating – especially if you aren’t already familiar with the voting process.  There is a lot of room for improvement, and the wisdom of our union will have a positive impact on this review.”

There will also be a separate Future of Local Government review which looks at finding ways to make democracy better at the local level, like council elections. 

Muriel says it’s important to have consistency between the two processes.

“One really disappointing thing was seeing reports of special voting places running out of ballot forms for people who were ready to vote, many for the first time. That simply is not good enough.”

Would you like to make a submission on the Independent Electoral Review? Click here!