Yes Councils should check

Stuff reports:

Auckland Council is unconcerned about the growing scrutiny over councillors’ eligibility to hold office. …

Government requirements state that in order to be a councillor, one must be both a New Zealand citizen and enrolled as a Parliamentary elector – which also means being 18 or older.

However, despite more than half of its councillors choosing not to respond to the eligibility inquiry, Auckland Council were not ready to hit the panic button.

General manager democracy services Marguerite Delbet said council would not look internally at staff citizenship, electing to instead trust the information they were provided with at the time members were elected. 

“No, we don’t plan on looking into staff citizenship. When a candidate lodges his/her nomination for an election, it is done on an official, prescribed nomination paper,” Delbet said.

“The candidate is required to consent to be nominated and to certify that they are qualified to be a candidate. Certifying they are qualified is done by ticking two check boxes, and then signing the nomination paper.” 

The council’s electoral officer then checked each nomination paper when they were lodged to ensure both criteria (NZ citizen and Parliamentary elector) were ticked and accepted the information contained on the paper as correct, she said. 

I’m sorry but this is appallingly slack. The returning officers have a responsibility to verify that someone is eligible for election and someone ticking a form declaring they are eligible does not count.

If someone ticked a box on a form declaring they are a deity and immune from rates, would they accept that.

It would presumably take around five minutes for a Council to check with Internal Affairs if someone is a citizen. There is no excuse for them not to do so.

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