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ElectoralCommissionfails

ThepartywhichhopedtohighlighttheinconsistenttreatmentofNewZealanderslivingoverseashas
beentolditwontbeabletocontestthe2014GeneralElectionironically,becauseithasnotbeen
treatedthesameasNewZealandbasedparties.
TheExpatsPartyfirstinformedtheNZElectoralCommissioninlateJanuarythatitintendedto
registerandcontestthe2014election,sotheCommissionhashadsevenmonthstoconsiderthe
implicationsofthatandtoadvisetheExpatswhat,ifany,additionalproceduresitwouldimposeon
theparty,saidCampaignDirectorRexWiderstrom.
TheExpats,whoweretreateddifferentlytoanyotherpartythathasappliedforregistration,were
requiredtohaveeverymemberstateontheirmembershipformwhentheywerelastinNew
Zealandsomethingnootherpartyhadeverbeenrequiredtodo.
Worse,thissupposedrequirementisafantasy.TheInquiryintothe2011GeneralElectionmakesit
clearthatElectionsNZhasnoabilitytocheckwhethervoterslivingoverseashavereturnedtoNZ
withintherequiredperiodoftime.TheInquirysaidthatthedatasharingnecessaryforthisto
happenbetweenagenciessuchastheCommission,CustomsandInternalAffairs,simplydoesnt
occur.
Nonetheless,theExpatsexperienceinobtainingadditionalpaperworkfromitsmemberssuggests
thatitcouldeasilyhavecopediftheCommissionhaddecidedtoimposethatrequirementatthe
outset.Insteaditdecidedthiswasanecessityonlyhalfwaythroughtheprocess,afterithad
receivedthepartysmembershipforms.Andeventhenitwasntclearaboutwhatitwantedorhow
itwouldvalidateit,whenprovided.
Now,havingcreatedavastamountofadditionalpaperwork,theCommissionhasusedthatasan
excusetosaysorry,werenotdoneprocessingitbyWritDay(20August)soyoulosetherightto
contesttheelection,MrWiderstromsaid.
Thishasbeenanamateurishbunglefromtheoutset,startingwiththesixdayswastedinJulywhen
itturnedouttheCommissionhaspossiblytheonlyemailserverintheworldconfigurednottosend
abouncemessagetosomeonewhenanemailisntdelivered.
ItcontinuedwhentheCommissionrejected244membersonthebasisthattheyhadntstated
whentheywerelastinNewZealand,includinginthatsomememberswhocurrentlyresideinthe
country.
Infact,asnomemberoftheExpatsPartyappearstohavebeencontactedbytheElectoral
Commissiontovalidatetheirmembership,thePartyisnowquestioningwhethertheElectoral
CommissionhavemadeanygenuineattemptstoprogressthePartysapplicationatall.
TheCommissionhasfailed.Failedtheparty,failedthedemocraticprocess,andfailedthepeopleof
NewZealand.Itcanmovelikelightningwhenitwantstointerferewithasongwritersrighttohavea
musicvideouploadedonlinebutwhenitcomestoacoreactivityregisteringapartysothatits
supporterscancasttheirvotesforittheycantgetitrightwithmorethansixmonthsnotice.
WastheCommissioncompetenttodothejobitstaskedwithdoing,wewouldtodaybe
announcingourplatformandcandidatesfortheelection.Insteadweretellingourmembersand
supportersthattheydonthaveavoice.Nootherpartyhasanyfocuson,letalonepoliciesfor,New
Zealandcitizenslivingoverseas.
PartyleaderGrantCheesmansaidthepartyscandidateinIkaroaRawhiti,VickyRose,wouldremain
ontheballotasanindependent,andthattheExpatshadnotyetdeterminedtoendorseanyother
partyorcandidate.HoweverhesaidthattheExpatsremainedopentodialoguewiththeother
partiesandwouldcontinuetoremaininterestedininfluencingmarginalseats.
Wedurgeoursupporterstopressuretheotherpartiesforspecificsonexpatpoliciesbeforegiving
themtheirvote,sinceNewZealandcitizenslivingoffshore,howevertemporarily,aretheforgotten
peopleofNewZealandpolitics,MrWiderstromsaid.
Timeline
February: DiscussionsbeginwiththeElectoralCommission(EC),givingitsixmonthsin
whichtoreachadecisionastotheproceduretheywishedtofollowtovalidate
theeligibilityofthatpartysmembers.Approximately500membershipforms
wereinformallysubmittedatthistime.TheElectoralCommissionclearlydont
bothertoreviewthem.
March: TheExpatsapplyforbroadcastingfunding,leavingtheCommissioninnodoubt
thattheyareseriousaboutregisteringandcontestingtheelection.
21July: ApplicationforregistrationformallysubmittedtoElectoralCommission.
22July: Membershipformsprovided;correspondence(acknowledged)withECthatthose
formswouldalsobeprovidedinalphabeticalorderbyemailtoassistreview.At
thispointtheElectoralCommissionhavebeenprovidedwithapproximately750
membershipforms.HowevertheExpatsapplicationislimitedto550(thelegal
maximumareincludedonthePartysapplication)
22July28July: VariousemailspassbetweentheCommissionandtheExpats.
28July: TheECsuddenlyclaimthatonly490outof550membershipformshavereceived,
andrefusedtocontinuetoprocessthepartysapplicationuntilthemissing10
formsarereceived(disregardingtheadditionalformsintheirpossession).The
Commissionwassubsequentlyforcedtoacknowledgethataproblemwiththeir
emailservershadmeantthatformssenton22Julywerenotreceived,andthat
theserverwasnotsetuptonotifyeitherthesender(theExpats)orthe
Commissionofemailbounces.Emailrequestsforformalconfirmationthatthe
missingemailswerenotreceivedareignored.
29July: TheECadvisesthattheproblemwiththeiremailserversisfixed,andaskedfor
formstoberesent.TheExpatsagainprovidetheformsandaskhowthelosttime
totallingfourdayswouldbemadeup,asbroadcastingfundingwasnowat
risk.NoreplyisreceivedfromtheCommission.
29July: TheCommissionadvisesthatitisnotpreparedtoruntheadvertisingprocess
concurrentlywiththemembershipcheckingprocess,despitethedelay.
30July: TheECadvisesthatithasrejected244membershipformsonbasisthatno
informationhasbeenprovidedastowhenthepersonwaslastinNZ.Rejected
membersincludepeoplewholisttheircurrentresidenceasbeinginNewZealand.
TheCommissionadvisestheExpatsthatthepartymaysubmitadditional
evidencetomakevalidnumbersupto500.
31July: TheExpatsrequestthosememberswhomtheCommissionhasrejectedto
providewrittenstatementsconfirmingwhentheywerelastinNZ.Emailsare
obtainedfrom164membersovernight,supplementedby77additional
memberships.Only11previouslyprovidedprovetobeineligible.Theseare
submittedtotheCommissionovernighton30Julytoensurethatnoprocessing
timeislost.
31July: ECadvisestheExpatsthatemailevidenceprovidedisnotacceptablebutdonot
saywhatwouldbe.Expatsurgentlyrequestconfirmationofwhatwouldbe
acceptabletoCommission.SeveralphonecallsandemailstotheCommissiongo
unanswered.
1August: Commissionadvisesdateevidenceneededtobeonthemembershipforms,asit
cantbebotheredcrossmatchingthestatements;aprocessthatthePartyhas
doneitselfovernightandwhichtakeslessthananhour.
23August: Partyofficialsarrangefornewformstobesentoutovertheweekend,
completed,signedandcollectedtomeettheElectoralCommissionsrequirements
astoform.
4August: Themaximum550replacementmembershipformsaresubmitted,allwithdate
evidence.AtthispointtheExpatshaveapproximately1,000fullypaidmembers,
7August: Threedayslater,theECadvisethat35ofthe550aremissing,duetoan
attachmenterroronemail.Fiveminuteslater,partyofficialsresubmitthe
remaining35forms.DespitethistheECatalltimeareinpossessionofmorethan
therequired500forms.
720August: NofurthercorrespondencefromEC.Anxiousaboutthestatusoftheapplication,
partyofficialsaskviasocialmediawhetheranymembershavebeencontactedas
partoftheCommissionsrandomcheckingprocess.Despitemorethan70
responses,nooneindicatestheyhave.
20August: TheCommissionadvisesthatithasntfinishedtheregistrationprocedureand
thatasitisnowWritDaythelawobligesittoceaseprocessing,sotheExpats
cannotnowberegistered.
ends
Forfurthercomment:
RexWiderstrom,CampaignDirector: +61400133854orRexWiderstrom@gmail.com

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