A prison reform group wants to have a public debate on prisoners’ right to vote, after the Supreme Court ruled it is a right of all New Zealanders. The court earlier this week upheld a High Court decision which found that a law restricting a prisoner’s right to vote was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The government said the issue was not a priority, but Howard League for Penal Reform spokesperson Christine McCarthy said the court’s decision should put the issue on the agenda. “What is so dangerous about prisoners voting? The only reason people are put in prison is – supposedly – about safety to the community.
“So it would have to be argued, what is so unsafe about allowing prisoners to exercise a democratic right?”
The former National government banned all prisoners from voting in 2010. Before then, inmates were allowed to vote if they were incarcerated for less than three years.