I blogged yesterday on the lack of authentication in NZ for people when they both enrol and vote. This was after reading No Right Turn lambasting the United Kingdom for their lack of controls.
No Right Turn is aghast that one could possibly require the same level of proof to vote as to hire a video. Poor people don’t have ID he thinks. So I’m a bit confused. Electoral fraud is a bad thing in the UK, but a good thing here.
NRT goes on about disenfranchising voters, if one requires proof of identity to vote or enrol. But he misses a key point. Allowing people who are not eligible to vote, to vote, also disenfranchises voters because their illegal vote cancels out someone else’s legal vote.
If you vote for Candidate A, and an illegal voter votes for Candidate B, then that effectively cancels out your vote. You have just been disenfranchised. So someone illegally enrolling and/or voting is just as serious as preventing someone from enrolling or voting.
But what is really interesting is that I was partially incorrect in my statement that there are no checks on enrolment. A reader e-mailed me and said there were some and to check out the Privacy Commission annual report. And indeed he was correct – the Electoral Enrolment Centre does five sorts of data matching exercises. Four to identify people who have not enrolled, and one to identify people who have enrolled who are not eligible to do so.
They data match records with the Immigration Service to check if people with limited duration visas or known overstayers do not stay on the roll. This won’t catch all illegal enrolments such as invented people, illegal immigrants not known to NZIS etc but it is good they do do this check. Now how many illegal enrolments have there been? Is it just a dozen or so?
Well in the last four years it has been almost 7,000 people. And it is growing. The figures (page 77 to 78) for each year ar:
- 02/03 – 532
- 04/05 – 1,078
- 05/06 – 2,293
- 06/07 – 3,095
So big kudos to the EEC for preventing almost 7,000 illegal votes which would have disenfranchised 7,000 legitimate voters. Of course this is only a partial check, and won’t be catching them all. For example if an illegal voter registers under a modified or fake name, then they might not get caught at all. And if one illegally enrols close to the election, then they will not catch you in time to stop you voting.
I think there is an issue about why has there never been a prosecution for illegally enrolling? The problem is growing rapidly, so obviously some deterents are needed.
Now while on this topic, also interesting to look at what the EEC does to identify people who have not enrolled. Each year EEC spends around $200K to $250K on data matching to find unenrolled people. They compared 2,212,237 records in 2006.07 and from that sent out 296,338 invitations to enrol. 283,605 invites were delivered successfully and they resulted in 53,693 new or updated enrolments. It would be useful to know how many are new and how many updated, but anyway that was a 19% response rate which is pretty good. An average cost of $4,04 per enrolment.
The number of enrolments per data match in 06/07 was:
- DIA Citizenship Register – 271
- LTNZ Drivers Licenses – 21,650
- MOT Motor Vehicle Register – 16,990
- MSD benefits and students – 14,782