Labour wants electioneering ban removed

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

The Party wants a ban on electioneering on election day to be scrapped, saying it was “puritanical” and “from a bygone era.”

Labour’s General Secretary, Chris Flatt, told the justice and electoral select committee it was time for the ban to be reviewed and there was no logical reason for all election advertising to disappear by midnight the night before.

He said provided there were laws to prevent intimidation of voters, there was no reason why electioneering should not be allowed on election day as was permitted in Australia and several European countries.

“The puritanical view in New Zealand could be reviewed, especially in light of the number of people who make up their mind to vote in the last week of the election campaign, and the 12 per cent who make up their minds on the day itself.”

I think the fact so many people make their mind up on the day is exactly why you don’t want people accosting them as they go to vote, handing out propaganda and the like.

I do have some sympathy for Labour’s views. The regulations around election day should be reviewed from first principles. With advance voting becoming more common, that has an impact also. And the suggestion that even discussing the weather on election day could be illegal, as it may deter someone from voting was a bit ludicrous.

So I do support a review, but I don’t advocate removing all restrictions as Labour do. I think that would inevitably lead to inappropriate pressure being put on people to vote.

A related issue is whether we should allow exit polls, as many countries do. They are currently banned.

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