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Blocks to Māori voting challenged

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Two Massey University Māori politics educators are questioning whether the Electoral Commission has fixed problems identified during the 2017 general election.

Veronica Tawhai and John James Carberry say interactions between polling booth staff and Māori voters raised questions about institutional racism and discrimination.

Ms Tawhai says ignorance, negligence, or in some instances outright prejudice by staff prevented some Māori voters exercising their basic right to participate.

Some venues did not have a Māori roll on site, voters were given the wrong voting forms, some staff insisted Māori electors were unregistered when their names didn’t appear on the General roll as opposed to checking the Māori roll; and staff had difficulty locating Māori names on either rolls, even when given identification.

Māori enrolling during advanced voting were in some cases told they must enrol on the general roll and vote in a general electorate rather than go on the Māori roll.

There were also complaints people on the general roll were told by booth staff they could not party vote for a ‘Māori party’ because they were not on the Māori roll.

Ms Tawhai says the multiple issues resulted in some Māori leaving booths without having cast a vote, casting what would be a disallowed electorate vote from having been provided the wrong form, and overall feeling disempowered and devalued from the experience.

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