12 Sep 2014

Court upholds ban on prisoners voting

10:22 pm on 12 September 2014

An inmate and serial litigant, Arthur Taylor, says he wants to urgently appeal against a High Court decision upholding a law banning prisoners from voting.

The TV rental system in prison finds support.

Seven inmates went to the High Court to argue their right to vote in the general election. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Taylor and six other inmates sought to stop next week's general election, on the grounds the ban went against the Bill of Rights and the Treaty of Waitangi.

A 2010 law change banned anyone serving a prison sentence from voting.

The prisoners told the High Court the law breaches their rights and affects Maori representation in Parliament because Maori make up 51 percent of the prison population.

The inmates' lawyer Richard Francois said removing more than 5000 Maori voters from the electoral roll went against the Treaty of Waitangi.

He said the amendment banning prisoners from voting should never have gone through because it did not get enough support from Parliament.

In a ruling released late this afternoon, Justice Ellis said the considerable and considered support for their cause was not enough to change the law on.

The judge said the law did not go against international agreements New Zealand is part of and the court was unable to intervene.

Taylor said he wanted the case heard by the Court of Appeal before next Saturday's election because if an appeal came back in their favour afterwards, the election result could be questioned.

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