Electoral (New Zealand Citizens Right to Vote) Bill

Electoral (New Zealand Citizens Right to Vote) Amendment Bill

Member's Bill

Explanatory Note

This bill extends the period during which a New Zealand Citizen is qualified to vote, despite their residing overseas, to 15 years. The current requirement that New Zealand Citizens must return to New Zealand very three years substantially favours wealthy New Zealanders, who can afford frequent trips home, and distorts the voting electorate. New Zealanders living overseas who maintain a connection to New Zealand are beneficial to New Zealand, and should be entitled to vote alongside other New Zealand citizens. The three year requirement also present substantial problems during a pandemic, with some voters who would likely have been eligible missing out on voting in 2020, and the possibility of many more in future elections. The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that Canada's five-year time-limit was arbitrary, and unreasonably limited the electoral rights of citizens living overseas. 15 years is considered a reasonable limit, and is inline with other countries, such as the United Kingdom. The bill does not propose to amend the residence requirements applying to non-Citizen permanent residents.

Electoral (New Zealand Citizens Right to Vote) Amendment Bill

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1. Title
This Act is the Electoral (New Zealand Citizens Right to Vote) Amendment Act 2021.

2. Commencement
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3. Purpose
The purpose of this Act is to amend the Electoral Act 1993 to reduce disqualifications from voting that apply to New Zealand citizens living overseas.

4. Principal Act Amended
This Act amends the Electoral Act 1993.

5. Section 80 Amended
In section 80(1)(a), replace "3 years" with "15 years".

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