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Election report: Liberal/National MPs in dangerous move to limit voters’ rights

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 15 Apr 2015

The Greens will oppose a push by Liberal and National MPs to introduce changes that would make it harder for some people to vote. 

Coalition members of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters have recommended imposing restrictions on updating the electoral roll and adopting identification requirements on voters in federal elections.

Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon, a member of the Committee, has said:

“If the Abbott government acted on these recommendations the result would be fewer people on our electoral roll and fewer people voting in elections. 

“I am concerned that certain Coalition MPs are exaggerating the threat of voter fraud. Little evidence of this problem was presented to the committee. 

“Requiring voter ID would disenfranchise certain groups of voters including the disadvantaged, Indigenous people, the homeless and the elderly. Tens of thousands of people would be denied their right to vote if the Abbott government moved on this change. 

“The Liberal and National MPs pushing for this change are following trends in the United States. The attempt by those on the conservative end of the political spectrum to introduce voter ID is widely recognised as an attempt to gain an electoral advantage. 

“They are also proposing to wind back the clock on maintaining the electoral roll. 

“In recent years at a state and federal level laws have been passed that have allowed the electoral roll to be automatically updated by utilising a range of government databases. 

“Evidence presented to the inquiry showed that less than two per cent of people notified by the NSW Electoral Commission that they would be placed on the electoral roll disagreed. 

“I believe as legislators we have a responsibility to ensure that every effort is made to assist all potential voters to be on the electoral roll so that they can participate in the electoral process.

“The Greens will oppose these changes.

“It was disappointing that once again the committee failed to tackle electoral funding reform. My minority report recommends a comprehensive set of reforms – including a ban on donations from for profit organisations, limits on electoral expenditure and continuous disclosure of donations.

“Other recommendations in the JSCEM report on improving the conduct of elections are supported by the Greens,” Senator Rhiannon said. 

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