Photo / Sylvie Whinray / NZME
Political expert and academic Dr Rawiri Taonui says the law change to the Māori Electoral Option will not only increase the number of people on the Māori roll, but also encourage Māori voters to speak up about the issues that affect them.
Māori have until 13 July to switch between the Māori or general electoral rolls before this year’s General Election. Before now, the option took place every 5 or 6 years, with a four-month window to do so.
The Electoral Commission, political scientists, the Waitangi Tribunal and the Human Rights Commission recommended the five-year rule be removed – saying it was one reason for low Māori participation in elections.
Taonui says the largest age group voting on the Māori roll were 18 to 34-year-olds, who were more likely to speak out about Māori affairs such as co-governance and racism, and vote strategically based on those issues.
Although voting numbers in this age group had decreased over the past two elections, he believed there would be an increase in new voters and younger voters [on the Māori roll].