Labour’s unhappiness with proposed changes to electoral law they say will have a chilling effect on voters, has led to accusations from Justice Minister Judith Collins that Labour MPs opposed them because they wanted to commit electoral fraud.
The accusations flew during the committee stage of the Electoral Amendment Bill.
Labour’s Andrew Little said it was an important bill as it dictated how people could use their democratic rights to vote.
He confirmed Labour would withdraw its support for the bill unless clause 24 was changed to remove the need to make voters having to verbally confirm their identity to electoral officers, instead of the past administrative practice of voters presenting their easy vote card.
Little said this may make it difficult for some to vote – such as those who had English as a second language. He accused National of wanting to prevent some people from voting.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said the Labour MP was talking “rubbish”. Labour and Green MPs had agreed in select committee to the need for someone to confirm their identity, and there were exemptions for the limited number of cases where a voter was unable to orally confirm who they were.
Collins accused the Labour party of wanting to use easy vote cards for electoral fraud, a charge denied by many interjections from Labour MPs.
The debate continued with a number of angry accusations being thrown around at times before the debate was interrupted when the House rose just before 10pm.
Earlier MPs completed debate on the committee stage of the Appropriation (2012/13 Financial Review) Bill. It was completed on a voice vote when the set piece four hour debate ended just before 9pm. It was then given its third reading without debate and passed by 64 to 57 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour.
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