Thursday, October 25, 2018

Voter suppression right here in NZ

Entrust is a regional electricity trust. It owns a majority of lines monopoly Vector, and distributes the dividends to 320,000 households in Auckland. Its supposedly democratic, with elected trustees - and in fact, there's an election on right this minute. But you wouldn't know, because those elected trustees - all of them from National's Auckland subsidiary, Citizens & Ratepayers - have forbidden the electoral officer from advertising it:

City Vision has discovered that current C&R Entrust Trustees have banned the independent Electoral Officer from promoting the Entrust election turnout in a cynical attack on democracy.

Peter Neilson the City Vision Leader sent emails yesterday and today to the Entrust electoral office, asking if they had or planned to make a media statement encouraging people to vote in the Entrust Election for 5 trustees. Judith Ofsoske the Director and Operations Manager for election services the Entrust election’s returning officer, Dale Ofsoske, advised today that “Unfortunately, the Trust has limited the press releases we are able to make-we are unable to promote the election. Dale has raised this with the Trust again this week.”

“While the first day turnout was well up on the last election in 2015 as of today the turnout is less than 10% and on current trends may barely exceed the abysmal final turnout of 12.84% achieved at the last election” says City Vision Team Leader Peter Neilson.

Four of the trustees have also refused to give any interviews for the election, despite standing in it.

This is classic voter suppression: if you can't convince people to vote for you, you try and stop people who won't vote for you from voting (in this case: people who don't already know about Entrust and might have different views on what it should do with the community's money). Kiwis have long considered this to be an American evil. But the right here is swimming in American memes (see their frequent calls for voter ID laws to deter voters), and it looks like now they've caught the full-blown disease.

As for what to do about it: vote the pricks out. No-one who attempts to suppress turnout belongs on any elected body. If you live in Auckland you can still vote by delivering your ballot to the Independent Elections Services office at L2, 198 Federal Street, Auckland by 17:00 tomorrow. Given low turnout, every vote will make a difference, and it will be well worth doing just to throw these arseholes out of office.

As for the longer term, as a quasi-local government body, Entrust seems like it should be covered by LGOIMA and the Local Electoral Act.