Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The law is an ass

One of the features of New Zealand electoral law is that we have compulsory voter registration. Anyone qualified to be an elector must register within one month of the date they qualify. "Knowingly and wilfully" failing to do so is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of $100 on first conviction, and $200 on subsequent ones.

According to the Electoral Commission, no-one has ever been prosecuted under this law in its 22-year history. No-one. The reason? "Prosecution is expensive and does not proceed in any case once an application [for registration] is lodged". In other words, they think its just too much bother.

But if its too much bother to prosecute, its too much bother to have on the books. Laws which are never enforced make the law an ass.

[Thanks to Liam Stoneley on FYI for making this request.]