Recount Just One Step to Restoring Credibility

Published: Tue 7 Oct 2014 03:39 PM
Recount Just One Step to Restoring Credibility
MANA leader Hone Harawira
Tue 7 October 2014
“I have applied for a judicial recount of the votes in the Tai Tokerau election because it is one step in trying to restore credibility to the electoral process in the north, and, I suspect, in all other Maori electorates as well” said MANA leader Hone Harawira.
“Irrespective of whether the recount changes the result of the election in Te Tai Tokerau, these issues need to be independently examined and substantial improvements made ahead of the next election to ensure our people’s basic rights are respected and their participation in the democratic process is encouraged and affirmed.”
“In 2011 I issued a press release strongly condemning the deep-seated racism being experienced by Maori voters in Tai Tokerau during the election campaign. I also attached a formal complaint to the Electoral Commission” (see ELECTORAL COMMISSION RACISM CONDEMNED below)
“During the early voting stages of the 2014 campaign, I again wrote of my disappointment and anger at the way in which I felt Maori voters were being poorly treated by electoral commission officials (see TREAT MAORI VOTERS WITH RESPECT below).
“By seeking a recount I can ensure that at least some of the enrolment issues will be independently examined” said Harawira “and I hope that the Electoral Commission takes seriously in future the right of Maori voters to have their votes treated with due respect”
MANA leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira
Wed 16 November 2011
“When are these racists ever going to learn?” raged MANA Leader and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, after hearing that Pakeha Electoral Commission staff in Whangarei had told MANA supporters and staff that they would have to travel out of town to cast an early vote.
“Here we are, in the middle of an election campaign, and we have these colonial throwbacks talking down their noses to valid Tai Tokerau constituents, trying to make them feel dumb and trying to put them off voting.”
“Every year we get these complaints from Maori voters being stopped from voting” said Harawira “by Pakeha electoral officials telling them that they can’t vote here or they can’t vote there, or that they’re not on the roll, or that they can’t cast a special vote, or they have to wait for a few hours while General Seat voters are put through first”
“And now they’re trying to make it harder for Maori to vote before election day as well.”
“Either somebody takes these people aside and tells them a few home truths – like Maori voters have the right to be spoken to pleasantly, Maori have a right to vote early, Maori voting papers should be held in every voting booth regardless of the history of that booth, Maori should not be made to travel unreasonably long distances to vote, Maori can vote at any booth just like non-Maori, and that Maori voters have the same rights as non-Maori voters – or there’s going to be trouble”
“I am hereby advising all Maori voters to send me the names and contact details of any Electoral Commission staff they have been poorly treated by, and I will send somebody around the very next day to slap a charge of racial discrimination on them before I send a complaint to the Electoral Commission.”
Attached below is the copy of the official complaint lodged by a MANA Whangarei member
C/- The Electoral Commission, Wellington
RE Complaint against the way in which our MANA members were treated at the Whangarei HQ Advanced Voting Booth on Saturday 12th November 2011
On Saturday 12th November, four MANA party members and some of our whanau entered the Porowini Ave HQ to place their advanced votes. There were at least 10 Electoral workers present; none of whom acknowledged, greeted or tended to our members who had just entered the establishment.
Besides from the obvious up and down glances at the attire of our MANA members, the blatant disregard and discourteous manner to which Whangarei Electoral workers projected toward our MANA members, the Electoral workers present were uninviting, unprofessional and blatantly rude. One of our MANA members hesitantly approached one of the electoral workers present and asked for help regarding advanced voting. ‘Where do we go to vote?’
The Electoral worker quickly scurried off to fetch another senior worker but did not return until some-time later. On return the more senior of the two informed our MANA members that they could not vote today; suggesting instead that our MANA members drive out to Waipu to vote.(Please note that Waipu is one hour drive South of Whangarei).
One of our MANA members stated “But advanced voting has already begun – we only live up the road, can’t we just vote here?” Another electoral worker piped up quite loudly “We’re closed! You guys can’t vote here - Come back next week!” One of our MANA members continued ‘I’ve been told that we can vote here.’ One of the Electoral workers replied ‘You can’t vote here, and that’s that!!”
The inappropriate manner and condescending tone in which our MANA members and whanau were subjected to was appalling and unnecessary. No electoral workers had the decency to provide an explanation as to why nobody could vote at the Whangarei HQ at that particular time. The doors were fully open.
Furthermore, I have been informed recently by an administrator at the Whangarei Electoral Office that there were no Advanced Voting Booths opened in Whangarei on Saturday 12th November 2011 at all, highlighting the inaccurate information being dissembled to our MANA members at the Whangarei HQ by Electoral workers.
In discussion with an administrator at the Electoral Commission, I was further informed that it was at the discretion of individual area electorates to determine whether they wanted advanced voting booths opened on that particular Saturday and that it was largely based on “the need and demand of those wanting to vote.”
I am well aware of the strenuous times surrounding the elections and the need for well trained people, however I would expect that those placed in electoral roles would have the decency and professionalism to deal effectively and considerately with the public – and that they would have the common courtesy and respect required in servicing the locals in our communities. This includes those with Te Reo Maori as their first language, those who are unable to read and those who are first-time voters.
One of our MANA members stated;
“I felt uncomfortable because they kept looking at me up and down. It was as though they were disgusted with my bare feet because one of workers gave me a really foul look. When I asked them for help with voting, no-one even talked and I was just left there looking around for anyone to respond, and that made me feel awkward. That’s when I just walked over to the closest lady that was there. I didn’t like the way they spoke to me and my sister too. One lady was talking to us like we were dumb or something and the other lady was talking over us when we were trying to ask questions. I kind of felt it was because we were Maori, because I did notice we were the only Maori in the room and when I said Kia ora to them, they didn’t even acknowledge us at all. One lady just turned away and walked off.”
Please receive this letter as an official complaint. I would expect that there is an inquiry into this matter - that this complaint be received and followed up, and that appropriate measures be promptly put in place to ensure that irrespective of racial or social disposition, all people in our community are treated with courtesy and respect by those employed by the Whangarei Electoral Office.
MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira
Wed 17 Sept 2014
“Polling booths without Maori roll voting papers, Maori people not being offered assistance to vote, people getting sent from Whangarei to Wellsford to vote, Maori people getting turned away from voting because they didn’t have their ‘easy vote’ card, Maori people being treated like they don’t deserve to be in the polling booth, polling booth supervisors telling Maori voters that they can’t vote at a certain polling booth, disabled people being told they have to go somewhere else to cast a vote – and that’s just during the early day voting when less than 20% of the polling booths are open!”
“I am getting all of these horror stories from staff, whanau, friends and even from people voting for somebody else, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen on election day” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.
“We have notified the election supervisors of problems that have occurred already but the ongoing and widespread nature of many of the problems means I have to up the ante on election day in defence of Maori voters”
“So I have told my organisers and scrutineers to respond immediately to any actions that may put Maori voters off from having their say, and to nip any irregularities in the bud early” said Harawira ““I don’t want to wait till after the election to find out that Maori people were put off from voting. I want to know on the day and I intend to take action”
“As far as I know, any Maori voter can vote in any polling booth, anywhere in the country, on election day” said Harawira “and I am asking every polling booth supervisor to remember that on voting day”
“I will be travelling right throughout my electorate on voting day and I will make sure my people respond positively to any action that discriminates against Maori voters”

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