The Electoral Commission is advocating for the Minister of Justice to allow Māori to switch freely between the Māori and General Rolls.
At last year’s election year 19,000 people tried to switch between the two, and were frustrated to find out it’s only once every five or six years they can do it.
The reason it is every five years is because the boundaries are set every five years. If you allow people to swap more frequently you could well end up with electorates of significantly different populations. At present the law requires them to be no more than 5% different from the mean electoral population.
Such a change will incentivise a form of gerrymandering. If for example you have a close race in say Northland, then parties would campaign for people to swap from the Maori roll to the general roll just before the election.
This would greatly advantage those of Maori descent who can decide which roll to go on. It goes against all voters being equal.
If you are not of Maori descent, you can’t enrol in a more marginal or competitive electorate unless you are willing to actually move house (which of course no one is). The decision on which roll you enrol on should not be one made just before an election.