The Solicitor-General has told the Supreme Court justices they risk undermining New Zealand’s democracy, if they rule on whether prisoners should be able to vote. Notorious “jailhouse lawyer” Arthur William Taylor has fought through the High Court, Court of Appeal, and now the Supreme Court, against the 2010 law which banned all prisoners from voting in elections. Previously prisoners could vote if they were serving a term of less than three years. The High Court did not overturn the ban, but did declare it was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act because it infringed on the rights of New Zealand citizens to vote. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. Solicitor-General Una Jagose is presenting the Crown’s case to the Supreme Court this morning. She said prisoner voting rights were not an issue that should be decided by the courts.
“These matters are properly left to Parliament and the accountability to people at the ballot box. Because the future interpretation might well be different, for prisoner voting.
“Now when the Bill of Rights Act was first enacted there was a complete ban on prisoner voting. And the history of prisoner voting tells us that originally, all sentenced prisoners were disqualified from voting.