Kiwi Polemicist

November 8, 2008

• Insane rules for election day

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

According to this page on the Elections website the government kindly allows free debate on any day except election day:

You are free to start or join debate, and to try to influence other voters

As an individual you can join in any time (except on election day) by communicating with people you know, or to the public through talkback radio, writing newspaper letters or articles, putting your personal opinions online on a non-commercial basis, getting news coverage of your views, or communicating directly to members of your organisation or shareholders in your company.

I have three responses to the rules for election day:

1) First let’s look at “communicating with people you know”. I’ve been looking at s197 of the Electoral Act and I cannot see anything preventing me from talking to my friends about the election on polling day, so I don’t know where the Electoral Commission got this from. Section 197 (1)(h) says that you can’t give anyone a written list of parties and candidates on election day, but apart from that the gist of s197 covers broadcasting, public places, etc.

2) I can understand the rules in s197 that prevent squads of party faithful waylaying and intimidating voters in the street, but the rules requiring billboards to be taken down are simply insulting the intelligence of voters. Also, the rules allow cars and people to have rosettes, streamers etc. on election day, so banning billboards is inconsistent.

3) s197 also prevents people from trying to influence voters on election day via the internet, TV, radio, public address systems/loudspeakers and the like. I can understand that extremely loud public address systems could be intimidatory to voters, but internet, radio and TV are all opt-in means of communication, i.e. you have to turn them on, you are not forced to listen to them, and you can turn them off at at any time. Therefore I believe that on election day I should be able to say whatever I like on my blog, or on a radio station I own, or on a radio station whose time I have purchased. As I said in my earlier post, I should be allowed to say whatever I like when I am using my own property.

However, my slave masters will not allow this so in this post I have avoided (take a deep breath now) “any statement advising or intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party for whom the elector should or should not vote”.

Related post:

There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Electoral Finance Act

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