A guest post by GROTIBCW:
ELECTORAL FRAUD — WILL IT EXPLODE THIS ELECTION
Its easy and we posted earlier that it is happening.
How widespread time will tell. The above post talked about intercepting postal ballots and voting using some one else’s ballot paper. This post talks about overseas voting and the potential for easy fraud.
Overseas special votes are one area the Greens have always targeted and done better at it than any other party at national, and presumably local body elections. Remember it is often the Greens that get an extra seat or two well after national election night, when “Special Votes”, usually from overseas voters or those not in the electorate on voting day, are fully counted.
Its usually the fringe parties that focus on benefiting from this voter segment. But with the MoU between Labour and Greens once could say that Labour will benefit in both local body and national elections. Lester with his open and public endorsement by Greens might be feeling happy.
Overseas and postal votes are increasing. Here is a paper from a Maori voter perspective done under the aegis of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University which has some interesting statistics.
“The first major leap in the total overseas vote came in the 2002 election. In June of that year, the chief electoral officer announced that overseas voters would be able to download their papers from the internet and fax them back to New Zealand to record their vote. The result was that the number of New Zealanders enrolled overseas jumped from 18,000 to over 30,000 and the number of overseas votes cast
rose 47% to nearly 17,000.
Sensing the potential for overseas votes, the political parties scrambled to entice them. ACT leader Richard Prebble speculated that there were as many as 250,000 potential expatriate New Zealand voters around the world, while Labour Party president Mike Williams suggested that there were ‘hundreds of thousands’ of potential voters in Australia alone. Prebble went so far as to predict that the new laws could lead to a ten-fold increase in the overseas vote. He announced that ACT would send its MPs to campaign in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom and that it planned to contact 100,000 New Zealanders abroad via email (ACT New Zealand press release, 13 June 2002).
The Green Party based candidates in London and Sydney, and Labour placed advertisements in overseas magazines, launched a website, and made use of its London branch and its links with the Australian Labor Party. National also targeted overseas voters via a website and permission-based emailing lists, although its campaign director was sceptical of the value of sending MPs overseas to campaign.
The other notable exception to this excitement was New Zealand First, which preferred to put all its efforts into securing local votes”
Also at the last election, an attempt to create an Expatriate Party was made on the basis that about 20% of NZ population lives overseas.
But the Green Party with the international Green movement and focus on climate change has the most success in this area. As evidenced by them repeatedly winning extra seats after special votes (that include overseas votes) are counted.
The Green party also has as its natural constituency young, idealistic (and dare we say it – naive) voters who are easy fodder to target. Their need social acceptance and virtue signalling and the fact that they are overseas and will not pay any of the taxes and tax increases (which are the usual consequence of implementing Green policies) here makes them more likely to vote Green and for Green Policies without thinking too much about impact on resident tax payers or rate payers.
The Green Party has organised “enrolment parties” overseas at pubs over wine, beer and skittles to encourage supporters to enrol.
Greens also ran voting parties during the 2014 elections to get people to vote electronically with their Print->Tick->Snap->Upload->Green in Govt! campaign. See Pic 1 below and here https://goo.gl/btYMal
When the voting systems were First Past the Post, it did not matter much because fringe parties could NOT pick up a seat easily. With the MMP system they can add 1-2 candidates, or more, easily–as proven by the Greens’ results in recent past. Under STV system for local bodies, overseas votes can be even more influential. Remember Celia W-B beat Kerry Prendergast by a measly 176 votes in the 5th iteration of counting. At that time she was supported by the Greens.
One of the other key factors in overseas and special votes influence on local body elections is the low turnout. At 40% turnout in recent times for Wellington, a zealous, committed and active voter base with a good communication system provides the opportunity fringe parties to easily benefit. Being comfortable with using online technology also helps. And the electoral system has made it easier to do this without appropriate checks and balances.
With the percentage of special votes and postal votes steadily increasing at national elections, this becomes an issue. It is even more of an issue at local body elections because voting is 100% by postal vote.
The biggest weakness with NZ enrolment and voting processes is its total, and in our view naive, trust based acceptance of a signature on a form, whether sent in physical form or electronic form, with out any need for verification of identity. There is an attemp to use the RealMe governement logon feature, but it is not mandatory.
The addition of online enrolment and voting options, and the fact that postal voting is becoming more prevalent, with no published process that checks for where these actions originated from, and who they were done by, before people vote or even before votes are counted are all creating conducive conditions for fraud.
If there is a suspicion that votes were rigged, political party or candidates’ scrutineers could raise objections and trigger a enquiry. Its no longer petitions but an expensive and lengthy legal challenge. But that has not happened only once recently. Parties tend not to progress this if overall results were favourable. Also because suspicion can only be raised after full count of votes, parties seem reluctant to be seen as sore complaining losers.
We think this will change soon. And either the law will be changed before a scandal hits or will definitely be changed once more scandals occur. And those scandals could occur during the local body elections currently underway.
To ENROL right now (rolls are processes are same for all elections), one can go online and enrol by providing details which are effectively name, date of birth, occupation, phone number and address (or last address if you are now overseas). One can opt for the enrolment form with those details included, to be sent an email address or a physical address.
The form needs to be signed and posted back. If being done electronically, the process allows the form to be printed, signed, scannned and upload (or posted). One can use a RealMe account to do this, but it is not mandatory.
To VOTE in national elections you just need to provide you name date of birth and address to obtain a ballot paper either electronically or by post. Which you vote, sign, scan and upload or post back.
To VOTE in local body elections which is a fully postal vote, you can ask for your a physical pre-printed ballot paper to be sent to a different address locally or overseas. It is not clear what checks are done to validate the person requesting this is the voter. Once received you just tick, sign and post back. Local body elections do not seem to allow for electronic option (print-vote-sign-scan-upload/post)
IN ALL PROCESSES ABOVE THERE IS NO MANDATED NEED FOR PROVIDING PROOF, OR VERIFICATION, OF WHETHER THE SIGNATURE IS OF THE PERSON WHO CLAIM THEY ARE. IT IS ACCEPTED ON TRUST UNLESS SOME PARTY RAISES OBJECTIONS AT THE TIME OF COUNTING OR AFTER RESULTS ARE DECLARED.
There is another option. One of the ways of enrolling if you are overseas is as follows (from elections.org.nz)
“You can get someone else to complete the enrolment form for you, but:
– they must be a registered elector (ie, they must be enrolled
– they must print “Elector Overseas – signed by their direction” on
the form next to their signature.”
That is it ! So really any eligible voter can enrol anyone eligible to vote! At this point there is no proof required for identity verification, or residence.
If someone intent on committing electoral fraud is willing to take the risk to sign enrolment and voting papers they can easily do so.
It is a long and difficult process to identify and prove fraud. Although a recent high profile case has succeeded and wet bus ticket convictions handed out.
There is talk about how fraud may be detected using statistical methods, but NZ does not seem to have a routine process of applying such techniques.
All the while, the Green Party continues to resist all attempts at any tightening of the process.
We think the process is archaic naive and totally based on trust. It is too open to manipulation and any fraud is very difficult to prove.
THE ENROLMENT AND VOTING PROCESS NEED TIGHTENING UP. THE ABILITY VALIDATE IDENTITY IS ESSENTIAL. ESPECIALLY FOR POSTAL VOTING.