What would a new electoral law member’s bill would mean?

Source: Q and A

With Green MP Golriz Ghahraman getting lucky with the biscuit tin of democracy this week, what would her electoral reform member’s bill mean for New Zealand?

Ghahraman’s bill aims to achieve several outcomes, including lowering the voting age to 16, lowering the MMP threshold to 4%, abolishing 'coat-tailing' for parties that win electorates, changing donation laws, and more.

Auckland University election expert professor Jennifer Curtin said the makeup of Parliament could be very different if the threshold was lowered, based on previous election results.

"Really only the Greens have managed to consistently score 5% or more under our current system, which sort of suggests maybe the threshold is too high."

Curtin said in previous elections the Conservative Party and NZ First are two examples of parties that could have ended up in Parliament with a lower threshold.

She also highlighted a provision in the bill that would allow people to more easily switch between the general and the Māori electoral roll.

Currently people can only switch rolls every five years, but Curtin said thousands of Māori people contact the Electoral Commission about switching.

"The have to wait, the next one is 2024," said Curtin. "And this impacts local government elections as well this year."

Member’s bills are periodically drawn from a biscuit tin ballot at Parliament, and can be submitted by any MP who is not a minister.

For Ghahraman’s bill to pass, it would need to be supported by the Labour Party, which holds a parliamentary majority.

It is not yet clear whether Labour will support it at the first reading, which would then result in the bill being sent to Select Committee, where changes to it might be made.