Wednesday, September 02, 2015

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Yesterday's flag announcement having been met with a lot of "meh" (I mean "ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOFLAG"), the Herald's Claire Trevett is now breathlessly reporting on "plots" to "gerrymander" the referendum:

Four shortlisted flag designs will be put to the vote in November but plots to gerrymander the referendum results are already under way.


Labour's flag spokesman Trevor Mallard said the koru was "absolutely awful" so it was likely he would vote for it as a protest vote. Officials had earlier warned there was a risk that opponents of change could vote for the least attractive option to try to ensure a weaker contender against the current flag.

The RSA and NZ First are also both urging opponents of change to either destroy or spoil their ballot papers in the first referendum and Labour leader Andrew Little said he will not vote.

Flag Consideration Panel chairman John Burrows said it would be a shame if attempts to skew the results emerged. "I hope there won't be much gerrymandering because I think people have got to see what an important occasion this is.

In case Trevett can't use a dictionary or wikipedia, "Gerrymandering" is the practice of manipulating district boundaries to create partisan political advantage. Which clearly isn't what is going on here (for a start: there are no districts). Instead, people are suggesting tactical voting for their preferred outcome, or strategic abstention to undermine the legitimacy of the result. And that's not "gerrymandering", but good old-fashioned democracy in action. And if Burrows and Trevett find that somehow dubious, it says a lot more about them than it does about us.

[With thanks to Inigo Montoya]