Should the law be changed to allow overseas Kiwis to vote?

The Herald reports:

The Government won’t say whether it will change the law to prevent tens of thousands of Kiwis losing the right to vote at the next election.

Currently, New Zealanders who are overseas must have visited the country once within the last three years to be allowed to vote – or once in the last 12 months for non-citizen residents. Those who fall outside that threshold lose the right to vote in that election.

With entry to New Zealand currently restricted by the clogged MIQ system, many New Zealanders overseas will lose the right to vote at the next election, unless the law is changed to be more flexible or New Zealand’s border becomes significantly more open by 2023.

That currently appears unlikely, with the Government only committing to a gradual reopening of the borders, which is unlikely be normal by 2023 – or 2022, when local body elections are scheduled.

I support the current law that allows overseas Kiwis to vote so long as they have been in NZ in the last three years. I don’t think someone who hasn’t been in NZ for say 20 years should get a vote. So the current law is a good balance.

But the Government at the moment is making it almost impossible for overseas Kiwis to come to NZ. They may have to wait 18 months to get a spot in MIQ. So there are NZers wanting to be in NZ, who can’t get here.

In that situation I think a temporary extension of the eligibility criteria so it is anyone who has been here in the last six years is warranted.

However electoral law changes should only proceed with consensus. So key thing is the Government should consult all political parties on the desirability of a change.

Of course Labour may be reluctant to make a change as they could be worried that all those Kiwis trapped in MIQ purgatory, could be hostile to the Government as they have such a broken system for MIQ.

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